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  • Mikolai Stroinski discusses The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Soundtrack
    to what just happened in the music There are also intensity hills and valleys in the music meaning that musical tension has a tendency to rise and fall I feel this adds levels of complexity and interest to the music making the game spookier while also lending it an air of the unexpected RS Ethan s Theme for solo piano really stands out to me what made you decide to bring the score together with this track and at what stage of the process did you write Ethan s theme MS I wrote it very early on as a general theme for the game I m a pianist Through improvisation I was trying to come up with a central theme that would capture the story of Ethan Carter I was planning on orchestrating it once approved As it turned out The Astronauts loved it so much they didn t want to add anything And so it stayed If you listen closely to the melodic pieces from the score you will notice that each one is a variation of Ethan s Theme It borrows either the melodic shape or the rhythms or the distinguishing melodic intervals RS Do you worry about composing a unique score for each new project or do you find each score naturally follows a different path Definitely the latter at least when it comes to video games In TV scoring there is a lot of dealing with temp tracks and requests to imitate cues that I or someone else have already written However of the several games I have scored The Vanishing of Ethan Carter The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt each has its own unique and different sound They are as different as the games themselves Photo courtesy of Top Dollar PR RS Who are some composers both game media and generally who have inspired your music and what about them have you found inspiring Whose music are you listening to at the moment Let s start with media the king is John Williams I know everyone will expect this answer but there is no other He borrows what s best from centuries of classical music and applies it perfectly to the picture He also manages to marry the sophistication of the music with its simplicity and clarity thereby making it easier to assimilate by the average listener That is a winning combination His strong themes carry memories from my childhood enough said Michael Giacchino is another one I value very highly In fact his score to Medal of Honor is in my opinion the best video game music ever I remember when I played it on PS2 I suddenly stopped paying attention to the game and felt my eyes tearing up His themes are also top notch That is actually something that I admire very highly I like when the melody outlines some interesting harmony underneath which is not always the case when one writes modally In such cases the harmony tends to be much more

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/mikolai-stroinski-discusses-the-vanishing-of-ethan-carter-soundtrack/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Finishing Move Inc. on Halo 2 Anniversary and Massive Chalice
    and research of the original Halo 2 music assets Together with Paul Lipson Senior Audio Director 343i Microsoft Studios we mapped out which music assets needed to be recreated transcribed and recorded and then we came up with a plan of how to get it done As co producers of the soundtrack along with Paul White and I were responsible for contracting the other composers booking and overseeing the orchestral recording sessions at Skywalker as well as delivering the surround mixes and edited in game music assets It was our job and mission to maintain the highest level of sound quality every step of the way From a compositional standpoint White and I focused primarily on recreating the ambient textural and rock cues Lennie Moore and Paul primarily focused on transcribing and orchestrating the choral and orchestral cues and Tom Salta focused on recreating many of the percussion and synth cues and elements How much has changed in the new version for the Halo 2 Anniversary What was the guidance like behind the vision of the rerecording White The music itself is pretty much a note for note recreation of the original score Our core goal was to honor the intention and emotion of the original score by Marty O Donnell and Michael Salvatori while updating the sonic experience for a modern console the Xbox One With Halo 2 Anniversary we were able to take advantage of increased resources like more time with the orchestra and choir as well as technical advancements in the console like mixing all the music in surround In a lot of ways what we did with the score is very similar to what Blur and Source Sound did with the re imagined cut scenes The cut scenes in Halo 2 Anniversary have been totally redone from scratch to take advantage of the latest visual and post production technology and they are absolutely stunning but ultimately they tell the same exact story and have the same script as the original cut scenes What process did you go through when composing for Massive Chalice I ve seen the kickstarter page talks about breaking the mold of the typical fantasy soundtrack Would be very interesting to see how you approached creating a different fantasy musical world and the inspirations for the soundtrack White Massive Chalice takes place over many hundreds of years so one of the first things we discussed was trying not to tie it stylistically to one specific time period or musical era Even though the game takes place in a fantastical sort of world the creators specifically told us that they didn t want go the typical fantasy or Lord of the Rings route with the score which was fine because that really isn t our jam anyways Besides that basic direction we had quite a bit of creative freedom in crafting the sound for the world Where we ended up going was a bit of a post rock vibe blended with more eclectic world

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/finishing-move-inc-on-halo-2-anniversary-and-massive-chalice/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Tom Salta on Halo Spartan Strike
    the main menu and a new arrangement of a Spartan Assault track called Epic Evolution Reborn Since I already gained valuable experience from scoring Spartan Assault it was a bit easier to create music that would fit well in the game and complement the near constant barrage of heavy gunfire and explosions RS Between your previous work on Spartan Assault the already significant legacy of Halo and the game itself there seems like a wealth of musical inspiration Did you make any conscious attempts to add new elements or more of your own musical voice to the composition or did you instead aim to continue the existing musical world TS A little bit of both Right from the beginning it was my goal to preserve Marty O Donnell and Michael Salvatori s iconic signature sound of Halo but bring something fresh and new with my own musical voice RS I was wondering what role the platform Windows Windows Phone iOS had on the composition for Spartan Strike and how this impacted the score for a universe that has primarily been on xbox What sort of challenges did this present and would your approach have been different if it were to be released on xbox TS I approached the score as if it were a full fledged Halo game There was nothing watered down for mobile Halo Spartan Strike is a historic release for Microsoft Not only was it released on Steam for PC and all windows mobile devices but it s the first time in history a Halo game has been released on iOS Also on the same day Spartan Strike was released Microsoft released the first game in the series Spartan Assault making both games available to play on iOS for the first time ever Being able to play Halo on an iPhone or iPad is incredible experiencing the franchise on a new platform but also making it accessible to an even broader audience And w hen you close your eyes and listen to the game it really feels like the Halo games that we all know and love To this end I must give Paul Lipson a huge shout out he did a stellar job with the entire audio mix on both these games With regard to the challenges considering all the various platforms it would be released on I was careful not to rely on low frequencies to make it sound beefy I also had to be mindful of the sonic competition while composing and arranging I actually played a bed of sound effects from the game in the background while composing many of the cues Unlike the main Halo titles these top down shooter mobile versions have very few if any quiet moments So the music had to leave room for all the sound effects and complement the constant action RS What was the process of releasing the music for soundtrack How much extra time and work was required outside of the original scoring Are there

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/tom-salta-on-halo-spartan-strike/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Watson Wu Interview
    projects WW Most of what I do is Work for Hire and most of my clients want their own customized sounds for common as well as rare items In this very competitive video game world companies are always trying to out do each other with better visuals as well as better sounds TC How did you start the field recordings for cars and weapons Is it something that always attracted you WW I have always loved sounds When I was a child my family at one point owned an arcade It was fun to have my own key and to play games after school Those sounds were fascinating Early in my career while I was composing music for some projects someone asked me if I could do some sound design work Without the needed source sounds I decided to try and record for myself I did own some recording gear so that really worked out Some of these jobs had car sounds involved so I had to experiment with what gear I should rent and purchase Recording weapons was something I have wanted to try out A long time ago I asked an associate who owned some rifles if I can record them He agreed thus began my experiments Successful experiments of recordings and designing then turned into real paying jobs TC You were recently involved in two projects a movie name 71 and a video game named Breach Clear Deadlines Could you tell us more about these projects and the audio challenges you faced WW For 71 the film I was hired to find organize and record the weapons Because the film was about what happened during 1971 I had to find older handguns and a rifle that would match the era I call these the Pre Glock days pre plastic gun days Fortunately I was able to find owners of these specific weapons and rent them from the great guys During the session here in the middle of nowhere Florida it was actually a really cold and windy day At a particular section in the shooting range that I rented there was an older over hang that made too much flapping sounds so I decided to cut off the annoying sound with a tactical knife I used select mics that can better handle wind and at the same time reject noises coming from birds and other unwanted sources The sound department in England was quite happy with the results 71 should soon be available for rent on both Netflix as well as iTunes For Breach Clear Deadlines I was hired to design certain high end gun sounds Because the game required a lot of rapid firing it took some time to design and redesign single gunshots that wouldn t annoy the user To shape the specified sounds I cleaned up some of my past raw gun recordings with RX4 Advanced and then mixed the multi tracks with Reaper DAW At the end I beefed up the gunshots with

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/watson-wu-interview/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Jeff Ball Interview (July, 2015)
    any of your copy paste shortcuts away When it comes to John Williams in my head I m immediately thinking about using parallel triads sweeping melodies asymmetric phrases complex rhythm that compliments a creative orchestration that doesn t get repetitive using lots of woodwinds to their fullest extent and writing killer brass chords with sweeping strings over wrong bass notes They didn t tell me to do any of that though I just knew that from analyzing Star Wars music I m lucky to have a background of classical music where I know the pieces that inspired the score for Star Wars as much as the score itself So in a lot of ways I m not really writing to imitate John Williams I m writing to imitate a conglomerate of Holst Stravinsky Prokofiev and Howard Hanson RS Do you think having played violin on so many games informs the way you work as a composer And does your work as a composer inform how you record violin parts JB I think the thing I ve learned the most from playing violin on different games is how different composers approach their work There honestly is no perfect or proper way to do any of it and most composers don t even try to achieve that they just jump into the musical abyss and try figure it out as best they can as they go Each individual experience in the abyss is different depending on the type of person and how they understand themselves and the world So anything you could learn from another composer usually won t apply to you but as a performer you get to feel their experience and know that it exists I think I ve gained valuable perspective and self confidence from that maybe even a higher state of musical consciousness I dunno I always analyze composers and I guess this gives me an in to their worlds Not only for musical stuff but business thinking and general personality as well On the other side of it being a composer makes my violin work a lot more accessible for composers who don t have experience with sheet music or violin writing I can use my composer sense to intuit what they are looking for through the MIDI and samples and then give them what they want the first time I m always willing to re record tracks but actually re doing takes has been very rare for me RS Outside of composition you have a long list of credits as a violinist on many video games How did you begin taking on those roles Any advice for people looking to work in the game industry as an instrumentalist JB My first GDC was in 2009 and I had a great time networking with all the composers there I told them I was a violinist and they asked how much I charged I had never really thought about it at that point but it made sense that

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/jeff-ball-interview-july-2015/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Chance Thomas – Composing Music for Games: The Art, Technology and Business of Video Game Scoring.
    approach them How much should you charge Yes Finally a place where composers can learn about actual numbers price ranges asset categories and payment terms Also what contract points should you look out for Which contract points can you typically negotiate in your favor How do you build rapport with your clients and keep a good relationship over time RS What surprises are included in your textbook which we might not expect and why CT There may be a few surprises For example the book addresses lifestyle management for a long and healthy career steps of career evolution and giving back to the industry My goal is to offer practical help trusted guidance and reliable value across the full breadth of a multi decade composing career Anyone can score a few games and have a career for two or three years But I m interested in helping readers have a career for two or three decades That s why knowing how to care for your brain s imaginative capacity over time is so critical That s why understanding career stages early career priorities mid career challenges and late career options is both interesting and useful RS What was the process like writing the book How many different versions has it gone through CT Incredibly challenging Probably the hardest thing I ve ever done as a professional But also fascinating It was truly a revelation to zoom out and look at my craft through the analytical lens of an educator I mean how do we really do what we do What are the components What are the processes What are the principles that undergird it all Can it be broken into bite sized sequential steps How do I teach each step effectively How can I offer readers both immediate impact and long term value All of these levels of analysis had to happen before the first sentence was ever written Then there was the actual writing Writing and writing and rewriting Iterations and edits Reviews and revisions Figuring out how to express each idea in accurate instructional and memorable ways was actually shockingly difficult I mean it was HARD I m reminded of something Billy Joel said about songwriting He said I hate writing but I love having written There was definitely a payoff at the end As all composers know there is something incredibly fulfilling about pushing yourself to deliver something you hope will be extraordinary I could see glimpses of the effort paying off along the way That kept me going Ideas gained clarity with each new rewrite RS What s the finished product going to look like Is it black and white with text only Or can we expect to see a splash of color with some graphics CT Full color with lots of pics When I began lecturing at universities I realized that the right picture can bring instant clarity to a concept As a result it was critically important to get my publisher s support for

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/chance-thomas-composing-music-for-games-the-art-technology-and-business-of-video-game-scoring/ (2016-04-27)
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  • Dren McDonald on Gathering Sky and Gunman Taco Truck
    that I have a background that allows me to offer relevant ideas no matter what the discipline RS For Gathering Sky you wrote a series of Audio Journals in the 3rd part you describe audio middleware as a no brainer for indie developers For members who have never used any middleware do you have any advice to get started Does every game you work on now involve the use of audio middleware DM Audio middleware examples are tools such as Wwise Fmod or Fabric etc They are software tools designed for the audio team to best integrate the audio content into a gamebuild effectively Some people make the mistake of saying that it removes the software engineer from the equation completely which isn t quite accurate A software engineer coder programmer what have you will still need to provide the hooks usually the sound event names etc within the game engine so that the middleware and engine are talking the same language Once that is set up however it does leave the audio team to iterate without hassling the engineer again Once you have a sound event called bird hits wall 1 yo u can set up a lot of different versions of bird hits wall 1 in your middleware and then see how they sound in the game iterating over and over and over until you find the bird hits wall 1 sound event that works best in the game This could be a randomized pitch volume event or a combination of several audio files bird squawk plus wall impact plus wing flap plus feathers falling etc and then you could have a little container of different bird squawks and a little container of wall impacts and every time that sound occurred the middleware would pull a different sound from those containers at random etc etc So the middleware is helping you create sounds that are a bit more reflective of real life in this case and help the player to stay immersed in the game If a player hears the same bird squawk sound over and over and it happens a lot the player remembers that it s a game and it breaks the immersion or the spell that helps the player enjoy the experience Since most of those middleware tools offer indie rates that are either free or super reasonable yeah it s a no brainer To get started you can simply download any of them and hook them up to a Unity game for instance I think that they all offer some sort of example project to play around with and in the GANG interactive audio GDC session for the last couple of years there have been projects made available by Stephan Schutze at Sound Librarian even if you can t make it to GDC you could still download the example project and try something out It s so easy to try things out now Wwise has an online class you can take for free and FMOD has a lot of online tutorial videos on YouTube I wish that everything that I worked on was using middleware Though clients are starting to understand the capabilities of it now this is much better so it is spreading It really does make my job a lot more enjoyable and gives me control that I can t always pass on to an engineer Engineer cycles are always valuable during development time and audio is often the last dept that gets a chance to get some of that precious time before the ship date So middleware helps solve that a little bit RS Have you ever had trouble convincing indie developers that it s worth using middleware For Gathering Sky as it was built in Java it must have required significant extra work from the developers Did you have any trouble persuading them it was worth the time DM With indies it s never an issue since it s basically free Even with Gathering Sky John Austin had to spend about a month to create the custom FMOD bindings for Java and it was still totally worth it because of the fairly complex stuff that we built in FMOD Most other platforms have an off the shelf solution i e FMOD Wwise and Fabric all have plugins in Unity3D Even with all of that it allowed me to take so much of the load off of their plate code wise that it was completely worthwhile Again with indies everyone is wearing more than one hat so if the audio team even if it s one person can say i can take some code in the form of middleware it s something that everyone recognizes as valuable and it s always worth the initial investment of time RS How did you come to be involved in working on Gunman Taco Truck GMTT DM I ve worked with John and Brenda Romero on a lot of projects going back to Ravenwood Fair through our time together at their Loot Drop studio where we did Ghost Recon Commander and Pettington Park and even at UCSC in the Games and Playable Media masters degree program where they asked me to be a guest lecturer one quarter for game audio So I talk with them a lot John and I worked on his remake of Dangerous Dave in the Deserted Pirate s Hideout coming soon just for fun he mentioned that he was remaking it and i offered to put some music together for it During another conversation John told me about Brenda s son Donovan s game idea which turned out to be Gunman Taco Truck We were just laughing about it for a long time way before anyone started to work on it So I told him that if it all came together that I HAD to write the music for that Donovan 11 years old by the way got his game design docs together his drawings etc and then John and Brenda

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/dren-mcdonald-on-gathering-sky-and-gunman-taco-truck/ (2016-04-27)
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  • What’s Next for the Next NextGeN? – Jesse Harlin (Jan 2012)
    generation sound designers are finally in a place where the battle in AAA development for detail and variation is a waning concern Complex instance culling and stream management systems are already a must and will only continue to become more of a fundamental need Sound designers can expect the usual fidelity increases to both asset bit and sample rates and subsequently the usual increased impact on both memory and disc footprints But that s the small stuff The next generation of game sound is going to be about maturity We ve shown how big the worlds we can create can be Now we need to show how well we can get them to sound As such the new frontier of sound design is mixing and mature implementation The days are gone where it s acceptable to simply have static master levels for sound and music that are occasionally ducked by voice Nuanced mixes and intelligent systemic mixing systems are the next big focus As we gain the ability to add more real time convolution reverbs and more detailed surround ambiences we re going to need the ability to deftly sculpt frequency space and create situational mixes that change depending on player feedback and myriad shifting game states CLOUD CONTROL Game music only continues to get more sophisticated and more complex both compositionally and technically Wwise and FMOD s considerable acceptance across the industry has given game composers an advantage that was sorely missing for years standardized tools When the gig can be about composing interactive music as opposed to building technology that facilitates composing interactive music composers as a group can begin to focus on innovation rather than reinvention The ubiquitous music loop was once the undisputed king of game scoring King Loop however has become tiresome and audio teams across the industry are now working with game music systems that focus on more variety Interactive music scores are starting to be more about stitching non looping material together rather than wall to wall loops of repetitive music This increase in variety is bringing with it an increase in the amount of music needed to cover a game By the end of the next generation of games conversations regarding disc footprint will be a thing of the past Cloud storage and cloud streaming of content will not only be the norm for digital distribution of game software but also for game content In game radio stations streamed level music for Facebook games and even faction specific multiplayer music no longer needs to live on a physical disc or even on the end user s machine If game developers and publishers don t offer the technology themselves expect to see a rise in streaming services akin to YouTube and SoundCloud that can be used to propagate in game musical content VOX POPULUS In game text is an endangered species We ve reached a point as an industry where even a gigantic MMO like Star Wars The Old Republic is fully voiced

    Original URL path: http://www.audiogang.org/whats-next-for-the-next-nextgen-jesse-harlin-jan-2012/ (2016-04-27)
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