I Built a Very Specific VST3 Plugin and Forgot About It – Now You Can Have It!

A long time ago I ran into a situation in a session at my work where I needed to dial a code on a phone patch, but couldn’t easily enter the code. I was connected to a phone conference via a Telos Zephyr which was all the way on the other side of the studio. I had to communicate what numbers to press and when over a separate phone call to someone in the machine room. Since then we’ve significantly streamlined things and have a million other tools at our disposal, but at the time I took that as an excuse to build a plugin to assist.

Instead of manually pressing buttons, I realized I could just send standard DTMF tones down the line to “dial” whatever I wanted. DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) tones are simply two specific frequency sine tones playing at the same time. That’s it. I remember finding that out and being amazed how such a simple signal was so vital for human communication. Something built in the 1960’s that still remains unchanged, yet completely relevant and necessary even within today’s modern communication tech.

Anyways, I had a dusty copy of SynthEdit at home that I had tried before but gave up on. I was originally trying to build a convolution reverb with it, but it proved a bit more complicated than I was ready for at the time. I figured if all I had to make it do was play two sine tones at once, maybe this time would be different. And it was! There was a simple tone generator I used to map out the various tones required for each button. Making the UI was actually more complicated than building the backbone. This was the result:

Absolutely STUNNING design and ingenious name, right? 😂 I tested it at work the next day and it worked great! My excitement was short lived however. Soon after I built this, we completely changed the way we handled phone patches and this little tool was no longer necessary. So, I forgot all about it! Tonight, I was organizing my plugins (yeah, I’m pretty cool) and came across it. I loaded it up in my much newer DAW and was happy to see it still worked!

I really don’t have any use for it anymore, but I won’t be deleting it off my system. It’s something I’m proud I was able to learn about and build. So now, I’m offering it out for free to the world. Perhaps this might be helpful to someone in a practical or creative sense. Here you go!

I want to be clear, that while I tried my best, I’m certain I didn’t build this plugin in the most efficient way. I probably violated some VST standards and using it now I notice the buttons can sometimes be a little unresponsive. What can I say… it was my first plugin, and I built it in a night! I can’t make any guarantees to the function or the stability of it for you now or in the future, but I hope it ends up in your DAW where you can use it a couple times and forget about it too. 😉

Schoenhut Toy Piano

My grandparents kept just about everything. They kept pictures. They kept trinkets. They kept coffee cups, little figurines, and toys. They kept important things and seemingly meaningless things… They kept memories.

It’s not something I appreciated anytime I went over there in the past. But, for almost the past month I’ve been driving home on the weekends to help my family go through my grandparents house. My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, leaving the house unoccupied. It’s strange and difficult every time; walking around their house with both of them gone. I do find comfort, however, in discovering the things they kept.

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Project Portal: Update 4

Another big step of my Project Portal mod is complete. Yesterday, I finished replacing all of the delightfully depressing dialogue of the Aperture Science standard-issue floor turret.

I hadn’t planned on replacing any dialogue when I started this mod. I was really only interested in designing SFX. I don’t know what it was, but one day it just clicked. “Stosh, you must turn your girlfriend into a Portal turret”, a voice said in my head. So I set out to do exactly that. Continue reading

Project Portal: Update 3

Who wants to see a test run for some Project Portal sounds? You do? We’ll I’m glad I asked! In this update I bring you an in-game sample of what I call the “portal shoot sequence”. There are three core SFX triggered each time a player shoots a portal: shoot, portal open, and portal close. These have a multiple versions that are randomly triggered. Most of the other sounds were unchanged for this test.

A few lessons this project has taught me so far…

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Project Portal: Update 2

Being back in my hometown of Galesburg has been great. Aside from seeing family and friends I’ve been able to get a lot of audio work done over this break. My work load toward the end of last semester brought my side projects to a halt, including Project Portal. With my free time back home, I’ve brought the project back to life.

I’m happy to say that I’ve made considerable progress on the mod. Galesburg has given me a lot of source material that I’ve already put to use in designing sound effects. I’ve made the choice to use 100% original sounds in the game. Continue reading