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Join the PAX: Behind the Music of Blockbuster Video Games Panel

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Have you ever wanted to learn what it takes to score music for popular video game titles such as Darksiders II, Borderlands 2, and Assassin’s Creed Revelations? Well, a new panel at PAX Prime aims to show you just that! Read on to learn more!

From the Press Release
Ever wondered what it takes to score original music for AAA video games? Learn from four of the industry’s most accomplished composers with diverse musical backgrounds as they share their experiences and discuss the craft of scoring music for some of the biggest franchises in interactive entertainment.

Featuring multiple award-winning composers Jesper Kyd (Darksiders II, Borderlands 2, Assassin’s Creed I & II, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood & Revelations, Hitman 1-4); Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Splinter Cell: Double Agent); Inon Zur (Dragon Age I & II, Prince of Persia, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, RIFT); and Sam Hulick (Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3).

Moderated by Emily Reese, Host and Producer of Minnesota Public Radio’s “Top Score” podcast. Plus giveaways and a surprise guest! The panel will be followed by a Meet & Greet / Signing session.

When:
Kraken Theatre, Seattle
Saturday, September 1st
10.30am – 11.30am

About Jesper Kyd
Best known for composing the unique, thematic music soundtracks for multi-million selling franchises ASSASSIN’S CREED, BORDERLANDS and HITMAN, Kyd’s compelling and distinctive scores feature a diverse array of instrumentation including orchestra, choir, soloists, acoustic manipulations and electronic soundscapes, immersing audiences with emotional depthand often described by critics as ‘rousing,’ ‘surreal’ and ‘beautiful.’ Spanning from his iconic electronic and symphonic scores for the HITMAN series which won him a BAFTA for Best Original Music, to the post-apocalyptic wasteland themes of BORDERLANDS, and his evocative Middle-Eastern and Renaissance-era scores for the history-inspired ASSASSIN’S CREED series, Jesper Kyd constantly evolves his craft as a leading artist for creating memorable and inspirational original soundtracks. His latest scores include the action/adventure DARKSIDERS II and the role-playing-shooter BORDERLANDS 2.

About Michael McCann
Renowned for his ambient cinematic scores and emotionally-charged organic soundscapes, Michael McCann has established himself as an uncompromising musical force in video games, television and film. His universally acclaimed score for DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION, which fuses industrial, choral, world and ambient elements into an epic cyber-noir, tour-de-force soundtrack, earned him nominations from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, Spike TV VGAs, Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and landed him on IGN’s list of the top 30 people working in video games in 2011. Michael’s diverse work in film, TV and games has also earned him nominations from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences for SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT (Game), 2 Genie nominations & 2 Leo Award nominations for sound design IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG (Film), and a second HMMA nomination for his opening theme to the syndicated sci-tech drama series REGENESIS (TV). Michael continues to evolve his diverse resume, expanding on his work done in multiple fields with companies that have included Paramount Pictures, 2K / Firaxis, Discovery Channel & Alliance Atlantis.

About Inon Zur
Inon Zur composes emotionally dynamic music for film, television, anime and video games. A graduate of the Music Academy of Tel Aviv in Israel, Inon moved to Los Angeles to study the art of film music at the Dick Grove School of Music and UCLA with such luminaries as Jack Smalley, Alan Ferguson and Henry Mancini. His scores for film and television include AU PAIR, ESCAFLOWNE, DIGIMON, POWER RANGERS, STATE OF GRACE and GHOST WHISPERER: THE OTHER SIDE. Zur’s Hollywood scoring expertise combined with his flair for powerful melodic writing is widely recognized in the world of interactive entertainment. Composing cinematic orchestral music for blockbuster franchises such as DRAGON AGE, PRINCE OF PERSIA, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, RIFT, TERA, EVERQUEST, LINEAGE, CRYSIS and FALLOUT, he has received international acclaim including award nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Spike TV as well as top honors at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Variety named Inon Zur one of the top music talents in interactive entertainment.

About Sam Hulick
Sam Hulick is a BAFTA award nominated and multiple award-winning composer, best known for creating the signature music for BioWare’s epic sci-fi franchise MASS EFFECT. Sam composed the iconic “Mass Effect Theme” as well as “Uncharted Worlds,” “From the Wreckage,” “Sovereign’s Theme,” “Victory,” “Uplink,” and many other compositions for the original MASS EFFECT. The ’80s inspired electronic score was lauded by critics as “One of the most memorable and unique soundtracks in gaming,” (Game Informer) and won Best Original Score awards from IGN, GameSpy and GameSpot. For MASS EFFECT 2, Sam was again tapped for his adept skill of inventive blending of analog synths with orchestral instrumentation. The soundtrack features a suitably darker and more cinematic musical experience to complement the sequel’s heavier subject matter. MASS EFFECT 2 received British Academy (BAFTA) and Spike TV VGA nominations for Best Original Score. The only composer to have worked on all three games in BioWare’s blockbuster sci-fi trilogy, Hulick’s compositions for MASS EFFECT 3 include “Mars”, several key emotional scenes in the game (“I Was Lost Without You”, “I’m Proud of You”) and the epic finale (“An End, Once And For All”). Hulick also recently provided the new original score for MASS EFFECT 3: Extended Cut. The DLC includes new and extended cinematics that feature more of the emotionally impactful material Hulick was responsible for in MASS EFFECT 3. Sam is currently scoring music for BALDUR’S GATE: Enhanced Edition.

You can visit the official PAX: Behind the Music of Blockbuster Video Games website to learn more!

Join the PAX: Behind the Music of Blockbuster Video Games Panel

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Graham Humphreys Reveals His Poster For An American Werewolf In London

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Graham Humphreys continues to cement his position as one of the top horror artists in the business with his stunning new poster for An American Werewolf in London. This piece was created as a private commission, and fans of John Landis’ 1981 classic are going to love it. You can view the final design of this incredible poster below.

Final design with text.

Graham also provided us with a detailed statement about the creation of the piece, along with a bunch of screen grabs taken throughout the process. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see how the final image looks before the text was added. In case you missed it earlier, you can also check out our extended interview with Graham here.

Exclusive Statement from Graham Humphreys
As a commercial artist and illustrator, there is only limited scope to make a job entirely your own – so with each project you are answering a brief in order to fulfill the needs of a client. Of course, the client may choose to give you free reign, though this is with the understanding that you are acknowledging their needs and thus expected to work within certain unspoken parameters. Mostly, these confines are defined by how a product is to be sold, licensing instructions and an understanding a market. With this in mind, the client is paying and thus nominally always right… though it would be unprofessional not to make them aware that other options might work better for them!

Without these commercial constraints, a private commission can remove the barriers because no market is to be met and there is only the artist and the private client to answer to. Creating a poster for a familiar and heavily licensed title is an entirely different prospect if it is not going to be generating money in the public domain and is thus essentially ‘fan art’. Unlike say, a T-shirt company ripping off someone elses art and charging money for the printed image, or perhaps a poster reproduced without permission by either the license owner or artist, then sold for profit.

Here, Dread Central have asked me to talk through one such commission, ‘An American Werewolf in London’, painted as a private commission for an individual that wishes to own a unique image that they themselves have made happen. NB: All likenesses and specific imagery (including the title and names etc) are subject to license and copyright and not for any use other than as examples of a work in progress (and of course, all rights are reserved!). Just need to make sure that it absolutely clear!

The client had commissioned two previous posters from me (as well as numerous poster designs from fellow artists), so a basic understanding of expectations had already been established.

My work begins by watching the film from beginning to end – to re-establish my own connection to the film (if one already exists). I saw ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (in London!) on it’s first run and the proximity to many of the locations (Tottenham Court Road tube station, Piccadilly Circus, being the obvious ones) made it instantly impressionable for me. Existing posters, in particular the official theatrical versions and various home-entertainment sleeves, focused on a limited image pool. My job was to find new ways of representing the film, free of the past baggage, but also to listen to my clients requirements.

Looking for a fresh perspective means avoiding the familiar stills that have defined the past marketing, this is achieved by making screen grabs from the DVD or blu-ray. As with most commercial jobs, I generally make a selection of about 40 images, then review these reducing the number to about 15 that have the best narrative potential, including a good visual range of actor expressions and reactions. My client required the Werewolf, London references, the moors, David and Jack, a full moon and the ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ pub sign… then whatever else I chose to include.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Selected screen grabs.

Selected screen grabs 2.

My first idea involved a portrait of David looking lost and frightened (I felt this was essential to the story), the Werewolf with it’s head bursting through the cinema shutters/signage (the idea of breaking the fourth wall), the decomposing Jack (a perfect metaphor for David’ s own life falling apart), his nightmare of the home invasion (one of the most effective and horrific moments in the film, I felt), plus Brian Glover’s ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ local – a look that defines rednecks and racists the word over when confronted by ‘other’!). I also wanted to add the tube attack victim to open up the carnage. Although Jenny Agutter’s nurse added the romantic dimension for an audience that expects the convention, I wanted to concentrate on David’s story, so chose to only include her face as if she were painted on the shutters, ie. a film poster element.

I was surprised that the client didn’t want the home invasion creatures, nor the reference to the sleazy cinema hordings (which I thought made a good location gag – obviously not!), they also did not want the rotting Jack. It was disappointing to lose these great horror elements, especially as they’d particularly wanted ‘horror’! But a compromise was reached by including the transformation scene at the bottom, and reinstating the moors (which I’d thought unnecessary).

Fortunately, my second sketch was well received and the painting could commence.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Once I have my sketch approved I reintroduced the photographic source material over the sketched parts, so that my layout remains exactly as approved and so that I’ll have the best possible likenesses to trace onto the watercolour paper.

Early sketched elements.

I usually have a basic idea of what colours I’m going to use. In this instance I knew that I wanted a silvery blue moonlight to bathe the entire image, but also the contrast of the orange glow of artificial lighting, the pub and cinema foyer. I knew the big splash of red in the wolf’s jaw would jump out, becoming the focal point. This painting took about three days to complete, the sketch process (including the grabs) about a day upfront.

Composition design.

The final painting was scanned and all the text added in photoshop.

My client will now make a full size poster print, to be framed, from the file I send him. Next up, ‘The Thing’!

Final painting before text was added.

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Syfy Renews Z Nation for a 5th Season; Season 4 Finale Airs Tonight!

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Syfy’s popular zombie series “Z Nation” just keeps shambling on, and tonight the two-episode Season 4 finale, “Mt. Weather/The Black Rainbow,” airs. If you’re a fan of the show, we have good news for you… it’s not over yet as David Latt of The Asylum has announced on Twitter the pickup of “Z Nation” for a 5th season! So you can expect lots more adventures with the gang in 2018.

Below is the official word from David along with a brief synopsis of what’s ahead tonight in the finale, which kicks off at 9/8c.

Synopsis:
In the mind-bending two-hour Season 4 finale, Warren and the team must stop Zona from launching operation Black Rainbow, which will cleanse the landscape of both zombies and humans. In Part 2 the secret of Warren’s Black Rainbow dream is unlocked when they reach their final destination. The cast includes Kellita Smith as Roberta Warren, Keith Allan as Murphy, Russell Hodgkinson as Doc, Nat Zang as 10K, Gracie Gillam as Sgt. Lilley, DJ Qualls as Citizen Z, Ramona Young as Kaya, Justin Torrence as President Donald Trump, Michael Berryman as The Founder, Micheal Daks as Mr. Sunshine, Anastasia Baranova as Addy, Sydney Viengluang as Sun Mei, Joseph Gatt as The Man, and Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red.

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First Look at Chris Alexander’s Space Vampire

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Who says all vampires have to be all extra-broody or sparkly or take up residence in Transylvania? Certainly not indie filmmaker Chris Alexander, who has just unveiled the first images and posters for his latest foray into film, Space Vampire!

The movie stars Ali Chappell as a beautiful female alien parasite who falls to earth with an intent to drain women of their life forces. As if women don’t have enough problems in this day and age!

Alexander wrote, directed, edited, filmed, and even provided the score for this intergalactic terror tale. Talk about a jack of all trades, eh?

Enough talk! Dig in!

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