Scoring for IM Prologue

published Thursday, 14 May 2009, 19:28 by Reese

Scoring for IM:Prologue was first of all more of finding the right setting and mood for Interstellar Marines than composing an actual main theme. The score should be compatible as use for an "insignia theme" for our future media releases and furthermore usable as background music for our "talking heads" videos. Based upon the story and environment in Interstellar Marines, a dark and sombre mood with a military touch was needed, which was pretty much the only guideline for this particular score.

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imageDownload Interstellar Marines: Prologue (320 kbit, mp3)
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Greetings marines,

I have been asked to write a short "Making of IM:Prologue music" article which actually is my first on behalf of Zero Point Software so please bare with me for any irrational explanations. In time you will learn that we are very passionate and open-minded about our work at Zero Point and that will probably shine through in all of our upcoming articles :)

A brief introduction; my name is Nicolai Grønborg and I am a self-taught sound designer and composer as well as co-founder of Zero Point Software. I have basically done all audio work for Interstellar Marines since its beginning, though after our latest staff ramp-up, where we hired our Sound Designer, Kenneth Andersen, I am finally primarily focusing my time on music scoring where my true passion resides.

As most of my fellow composers I too started my carrier due to a heavy passion for movie soundtracks and people like Hans Zimmer, James Horner, John Williams and many more of the successful Hollywood composers. They are the real reason why I am here today doing what I do. In Zero Point (and me especially of course) we strongly believe that audio is 50% of the experience once brilliantly stated by George Lucas. It is utmost critical that the music carries the player on an emotional joyride throughout the story and hopefully pull off a few goose bumps more than once.

Scoring for IM:Prologue

Scoring for IM:Prologue was first of all more of finding the right setting and mood for Interstellar Marines than composing an actual main theme. The score should be compatible as use for an "insignia theme" for our future media releases and furthermore usable as background music for our "talking heads" videos. Based upon the story and environment in Interstellar Marines, a dark and sombre mood with a military touch was needed, which was pretty much the only guideline for this particular score.

Mood

For years I have been composing several symphonic movie-like scores in various states, styles and quality traditionally using Cubase as sequencer and East West sample instruments. The IM:Prologue score was created using this, for me, traditional pipeline. I never have had other people fondling with my work, despite this is what almost all successful composers do. For now it has been a success story though I still have to accept the process of handing over my work slightly before I am satisfied.

This process consisted of the test of a new pipeline and included a producer/mixer and a studio for external mastering:

Initial idea -> Composing-> Arrangement adjustments -> Mixing -> Mastering

Composing

Well, what I yet may lack in more high level technical skills and (boring) music theories I seem to possess in music themes and arrangements and is what I probably do best. I don't have a specific way of creating scores though I usually play with various themes using main- or backgrounds instruments based upon a definitive mood setting or a basic thought of how i want people to feel. I keep adding stuff to get all the ideas out and then break it all down to the most essentials and have another go for the optimal experience,- I hope this make sense.

As previously stated, the score for IM:Prologue was more of establishing the musical style and mood setting for Interstellar Marines rather than a traditional audio/visual score so I had to envisage a sombre military and movie-like setting based upon the Interstellar Marines story for this piece.

The basic piece and arrangement for IM:Prologue was created in 1½ day and the bits and bobs took another day before proceeding to arrangement adjustments.

Composing

Arrangement / producing

This is where I get second ears on the project for the first time. Having heard the same piece 100+ times you tend to get an achievement called "Ear of the deaf composer" so its a healthy thing to get an experienced producer/arranger on-board at this stage.

Our Sound Designer, Kenneth, has a background in the music industry where he for several years has been a producer and sound engineer for various artist in Denmark, so we have this resource in-house. He provides me with feedback during the composing phase and "takes ownership" of the project when I'm ready to hand it off.
Arranging and producing It can be a time consuming process and small things really does matter in a big orchestral arrangement. Especially when faking it on a computer in the lack of a real orchestra. You simply cant fake the feelings of a live instrument or the harmony of several instruments playing together in the same room. Some might slightly disagree, but again, we all have different ears.

Arranging

Mixing

An experienced sound engineer can do this in a day or two and contributes with a more dynamic and harmonic sound to the piece. This also is vital for making it "sound real" without having the wrong instruments popping out or having to much of a midi/digital sound.
Kenneth has mixed this particular piece in our small soundstudio (also known as "The Chapel) here at Zero Point Software.

Mixing

Mastering

Here we nail the right EQ- and volume setting (compressor/Limiter) before releasing it. Anything from ex. adding bass or remove humming below 60hz or solving occasional annoying high pitched instruments. Basically, you need to have it sound great on as most speakers as possible.
The mastering was done in one of the best mastering studios in Copenhagen called Audio Planet. The mastering was done by Jan Eliason, and he has been mastering albums for decades. It was a matter of minutes before we had the right settings for the score.

Mastering

Upcoming music

The next piece of music in development features an intimate score for one of the main characters in Interstellar Marines, Jack Torillo. Kenneth and I will go to an external studio to record a string quartet for this emotional piece (We will have a cam crew tagging along so stay tuned for a "The making of Jack Torillo score" movie). As mentioned, emotional instruments are pretty much impossible to fake (especially solo instruments) so this is a vital test as an add-on/sideline to my Cubase work. Or at least as long as i have to live without the use of London Symphonic Orchestra. ;)

Jack Torillo

I will continue posting these small audio- and music articles as we progress in the making of Interstellar Marines.

For the love of the game (and music)

All the best and thank you for reading,

Nicolai F. Grønborg (Reese),
Audio Director and Composer

"Sound makes it real; music makes you feel"


Comments

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5 years, 5 months ago

Thank you so much for your post Nicolai! I'm very excited about this game, especially when it comes to the audio portion (which for me is like 80% of the game)

Keep up the good work!

For the love of the game and music

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5 years, 5 months ago

Awesome Prologue music! Keep up the good work.

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5 years, 5 months ago

Nice to read that you basically likes the same composers that I do. It also reflects in the music sample.

Keep it up.

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5 years, 5 months ago

cannot wait for game keep up the good work guys

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5 years, 5 months ago

that was very good music nice work :D

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5 years, 5 months ago

Awesome music.. cant wait..

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5 years, 5 months ago

Cool read! Cool game!

4 player coop is going to be awesome!

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5 years, 5 months ago

Love the Prologue. It realy felt heavy and wonderfull. I realy hope that you guys have an awsome ingame sound. Even if its only the music.

Music and sound is the backbone of meny movies and great games. The sad thing is that most companies dont care for the sound that mutch, its sad

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5 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for the kind words, guys. It really makes it all worth while :)

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5 years, 5 months ago

Well 'I like it a lot' probably isn't very constructive, but it's true. A lot of the people on other sites seem to think it is as well.

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5 years, 5 months ago

The music you put for download is truly amazing... really beautiful... THANKS SO MUCH!!

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5 years, 5 months ago

I've been waiting since 2005 for some news on this game, with many visits to the old website praying for an update only to be let down again and again. Finally, I come home one day to find a new website and video about this game. After spending some time on the site I stumbled across this video about the music, and it is what made me enlist and become a Spearhead right off the bat. Your inspiration from Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and John Williams is noticeable and it sounds phenomenal. Those are three of my all time favorite composers, along with Harry Gregson-Williams, Trevor Rabin, Klaus Badelt, Paul Ruskay, and John Murphy. Keep up the great work and any experimental music you have, I would absolutly love to hear. For the love of the game!

Lycka till med spelet! Jag donerar garna igen. Till alskan av spelen.

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5 years, 5 months ago

Sounds briliant! Keep up the good work dude!

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5 years, 5 months ago

You make fantastic music man (: let's hope some rich british guy who loves music stumbles across the trailer, loves the music and lends you money, you don't have to pay him back and can use London Symphonic Orchestra ;D we can all dream man (:

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5 years, 4 months ago

The score is absolutely excellent and makes me even more anxious to play the game.I think it sets the perfect mood for the whole setting of the game.Beautiful,man.Friggin bad ass.

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5 years, 3 months ago

Amazing sound track... The only part i dont like is the end lll:....:llll:. Cut out the last part and make a proper ending without the last bit.

Just my suggestion... I understand the need for it beeing usable with trailers etc, but I think the last part is bad...

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5 years ago

Prologue was absolutely fantastic! It sits among the best! Great job!

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4 years, 10 months ago

It's hard to believe that something like this was composed for just a videogame. It is...riveting, for the lack of better word.

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4 years, 9 months ago

Interesting read Nicolai, I was thrilled that you take the same approach to music as myself, that of feeling and instinct rather than theory or textbook examples. They have their place, but I definitely think that people who approach music from a feeling point of view tend to nail emotion much better than that of these theory nuts.

What do you think of Harry Gregson Williams?

Later man,

For the love of the game!

Joe

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4 years, 6 months ago

Wow i just found this article, LOVE the Prologue Music piece! It reminds me of the Military Theme of the first Transformers, which is awesome! I loved that Soundtrack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA6Go9EcGXA&fea
ture=PlayList&p=F45DC01CA22A26E4&playnext_from=PL&
index=1&playnext=2#

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4 years, 1 month ago

God I <3 that theme . it gives me the feeling of going on a great adventure into the ocean of stars. into the unknow where no one have been before . into starsystem with floating gas skies lying heavely over the unexplored planets where me and my crew maybe will find life. mysteries of the great space! unknown danger lies on our flight between the suns and planets , where ever our journey takes us. :) i'm scared, but i known it will be worth the trouble.

It is and will always be my destiny

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3 years, 9 months ago

awesome music gys keep up the good work

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME

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3 years, 7 months ago

Continue the great work boys! can't wait for release

Pvp gUNZ OUT

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3 years, 1 month ago

This was a nice read, I look forward to that making of video, sounds very cool.

I think it'd be cool if all the areas, artists, modelling, animation etc had 'making of videos'.

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