2013-08-01

Co.Labs

How Do Audio Maestros Engineer Video Game Music?

In modern console games, music superintends the whole gameplay environment. But adapting a score to a dynamic environment involves a lot of variables. How do they decide which audio pieces are spliced in at different points in the game? What if the player stops moving—will they get stuck with the same looped background music? A new conference launching this fall in London will take you behind the scenes.



Not content with sold-out symphony halls and packed panels at gaming conventions, video game music is getting a convention of its own. It’s called Game Music Connect and it’s hitting London on September 9, loaded with all the star-stocked panels, demos, and previews your MIDI-cued mind can handle.

After years of working together, BAFTA-award winning film and TV composer James Hannigan and audio director John Broomhall (X-COM, Heavenly Sword) gathered their coterie of famous industry buddies under one roof to detail every inch of the video game music world. Game Music Connect’s mission statement is a simple invitation behind the scenes of the audio worlds that accompany gamers on digital adventures.

Forgive us for asking why anyone would go to such a thing. In an expansive interview with Time+Space, Hannigan stressed the convention’s appeal for any gaming fan:

We subsequently decided that we wanted to deliver one offering an insight into how games are scored and to look at both the aesthetic and technical side of making music for the medium, getting away a little from industry jargon and the feel of an industry-only event in general... Anyone with an interest in music for games wanting to hear some of the industry’s top composers, audio directors and music managers in conversation, talking about how they work on major franchises and approach their day to day work could benefit from attending.

To that end, the day opens with a blockbuster panel of high-profile game composers telling their personal journeys and inspirations, including Martin O’Donnell (Bungie’s Destiny, Halo), Jesper Kyd (Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands, Hitman), Richard Jaqcues (Mass Effect, Little Big Planet 2, James Bond 007: Blood Stone), and others.

But the subsequent panels dig deeper into the science and business of audio composing and design, with audio directors such as Adele Cutting (Harry Potter series) and Alastair Lindsay (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) outlining the process behind the who, what, where, and why of everything piped into gamers’ ears. How do they decide which audio pieces are spliced in at different points in the environment? What if the player stops moving—will they get stuck with the same looped background music?

There’s science and art in the sounds that blur right by our ears, but these pros are here to explain just what kind of emotion they’re subconsciously triggering. If you want to hear how their minds work but you can’t make it to London, maintain hope: In the Time+Space interview, Hannigan mentioned his desire to continue Game Music Connect beyond the September 9 engagement, though the dates and venues have yet to be finalized.

[Image: Flickr user United States Mission Geneva]




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