Finally!

Since 2 years I’ve been walking around with the fact that I’m one of the four composers on Guerrilla Games’ upcoming game “Horizon Zero Dawn”! Now that my non disclosure agreement has partially lifted I can finally reveal that I’m working on this 🙂

Together with Joris de Man and The Flight (Joe Henson and Alexis Smith) I make up for the composer team.
It’s been a hell of a ride already and I can’t imagine what this will bring next.

Super exciting times to say the least 🙂

More details will follow on a later time!

“Game Audio GDC is a thing!”

I just arrived back home in the Netherlands after a week of sheer awesomeness at GDC16 in San Francisco! The amount of people that I have met and the huge number of new friends I have made is mind boggling.

To quote one of my heroes of the week Damian Kastbauer (@lostlab): “Game Audio GDC is a thing!”….and it sure as hell is!

GameAudio - Starting the day at the Sightglass on 7th

(One of our daily get togethers in the morning (7.00 till 9.00 am) before the talks started in The SightGlass Coffee on 7th Street in SF.)

I leave San Francisco with a brain full of knowledge, inspiration and motivation to start using all that I have learned in my projects the coming year and also to keep talking about all that has been said with my fellow game audio brothers and sisters.

I made a ton of notes during all the talks which I would like to share with you. In the coming week I’ll try to consolidate as much thoughts and notes in to “bitesized” blog posts. Sadly it was impossible to go to every talk because of the double roster at the GDC GameAudio Track. I wish I could’ve split myself in 2 at times…

More soon!

Conference or Trade show To-Do list – Part 2: Demo Reels

Demo reels, where to start…
Let’s make one thing clear, I am doing research at the moment and looking for the best way to approach making a demo reel. This means looking at countless of demo reels from both the cracks and the starters. All to find out what style fits me best.
That said as a teacher of game audio I of course have an opinion. I believe a demo reel should always have your best and diverse work!

I come from an era where it was common to send people a CD with your work. In 90% of the time this meant ending up on a “I should check this later!” pile of CD’s with the other 20 or so laying there. This was however an artefact left over from the music business and actually in no way a good way to go about in the game industry.

From what I’ve learned in the last 10 years is that there is no such things as “cold contacts” (acquisition without knowing someone personal) in the game industry. The industry I learned to love is like an extended family almost. People are almost always very friendly and welcome you with open arms to their group of likeminded people. For a newcomer this can be a little frightening as the game industry seems closed, or rather introvert.

I’ll tell it straight! Networking at parties, conventions, conferences, trade shows, you name it, gives you a way bigger shot at a new gig than sitting in your studio space and hoping that phone is going to ring! This means making time and investing money (GDC is not cheap I tell you…) to go to these get togethers, meeting other game audio people and game devs and getting to know each other. After a nice talk at the bar they just might remember you and your demo reel and will check it out faster then when they’ve received a business like email with a download link.
I’m stalling…I need to talk about making a demo and that’s hard.

demo post

Making a demo reel
As a composer AND sound designer for games I have spent a lot of time thinking how I’d want to approach my reel or reels. You want to have a choice what to show people depending on their interest. So after some contemplation and asking some of my colleagues I made up my mind and went with a separate demo for my music and one for my sound design. This way I could emphasize every detail of lets say the sounds I made and accompanied ambiences instead of it being washed over by music and the other way around where I’d have to make concessions to the music level as not to drown the sound effects.

The key I think when making a demo for what ever art is to keep it compact; show as much as possible in a vid of about 3 to max 5 minutes. When possible preferably shorter than longer.
Overall the people you are showing or sending your demo reel to don’t have the patience or attention span to listen through 10 minutes of material.
If you made a “draft” demo reel show it to someone and ask for feedback. I for one show my wife my demo reels before I polish them, she isn’t into gaming and I can safely say she tells it the way it is, however straightforward that may be (bless her).

If you have projects you worked on that used middleware like Fmod, Wise or Fabric you could also think about capturing a working middleware project so as to show your audience you’re more than a content provider.
Some other tip I got from colleagues over at a game audio chat was to emphasize in the clips what it is exactly you’ve worked on for that game. This way the person listening knows exactly what to listen for. Plus, I can imagine, has the added benefit of keeping your audience focused.

While writing this post I’ve already learned much again from watching other reels, talking to colleagues and so on. I hope you get something from this as well and perhaps have a little less stress while making your reels.
Time to get to business and freshen up those reels!

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Our first Dutch game audio meeting

So yesterday was THE day! We had our very first Dutch game audio meeting.

Since I’ve started in this industry some 9 years ago I always was on the look out for meetings like this. A group where you could talk and learn from each other, to discus problems and that piece of new gear.
Many years have passed waiting until it was going to happen. It moved a bit to the back of my head, as so many dreams do…waiting to be kindled again to a roaring fire.

Then the day came that I started listening to the “Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio” podcast (amongst others) where the hosts talked liberally about meetings here and there, episodes recorded in the car while driving to a meeting…
My little “I want a game audio meeting” thoughts started to smoulder again!

After I talked to Matthew Marteinsson, one of the hosts of the podcast, in person at a Dutch indie game festival I was starting to get genuinely jealous of people having the possibility to go to meeting which, in my idea, were being organised left, right and centre.
The smouldering heap of thoughts caught fire and my quest was clear; I’d have to do it myself.

After half a year of planning it finally happened. We had a great time enjoying the lovely soup our host made and talked game audio!

I want to thank my present lovely colleagues for the amazing evening. We all felt like it would have to happen again soon and perhaps even regularly!
We have a fricking nice community!

dutchgameaudiomeeting#1

#gameaudio #4live

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Conference or Trade show To-Do list  – Part 1: Business Cards

Second post in 2 days?

So yeah, 3 years nothing and now all of sudden 2 posts in 2 days! Nuts right? Well, I have stuff to talk about, so here it goes.

Your TO-DO list when going to a trade show or conference:

You planned (well, I planned) a trip to a conference or a trade show. You’re probably not going for fun only, you’re also going to do business.
Here’s some tips I gathered from colleagues and pro conference goers to keep in mind while planning.

  1. Make sure your business cards stand out.
  2. Demo reels
  3. Freshen up your website
  4. Make appointments with people you want to meet now!
  5. There’s probably going to be more tips but just these for now…

To keep myself from falling in to an essay length post again I’ll cut these up into bite sized portions. Also gives me time to think of something useful to say.

Part 1 – Business Cards:

One of the first tips I got from a Pro Confo Goer was having a business card that stands out. People get so much cards on conferences and trade shows that you’ll have a big chance of ending up on the “Check this later!” pile of cards. What you want is to end up in the “Wow, I’m gonna check this out now!” handful of cards.

How to make your card more of a looker:
This is something I have been pondering about the last few months. Like always I have been drawing away on thinking of something nice to make in to a logo…
The thing is, I’m a musician… I can come up with the perfect music theme for a game but a logo? Thats something completely different.
Of course there are people amongst my colleagues that have a very good and artistic quality when designing a logo for their company, which is good for them! I can safely say that I suck at it!

So after having this little epiphany I decided to let the professionals handle this! It just so happens that I know a couple of people doing very good business when it comes to creating logo’s, branding and so on. Via Pinterest I threw a boatload of stuff at them what I liked and what I think fits me and my business and I can tell you I’m already very excited to see how it will turn out.

If you’re in a same pickle as me when it comes to visual design you might want to give these people a look.

www.studioformo.com
HEADER-WOLF
I have decided to walk this path and pay for a custom design. Maybe you have a friend in your network that is a visual designer, game artist or what ever. Maybe even a relative who’s good at this kind of stuff. It’s just that I think sometimes it’s good to know your shortcomings and ask for help.

Next time….Demo Reels!

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Prepping for GDC and 2016 resolutions

GDC:
After many years of dreaming to go to San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference it is finally going to happen!
I’ve spend a lot of thought into this and thought this year might be a good one to go. “Why?” I hear you ask….well, that’s still sort of a secret (very secret to be honest).
Anway, I’ve had great help from a friend in Holland showing me what to look out for when traveling to SF. Where to stay, when to book your tickets and what else to take care of in terms of visa and stuff. Here’s a link to her blog and all the reads about planning your trip to GDC. Be sure to check it out when you are planning a trip yourself to SF.
I will of course keep you up to date with the preps and trip itself when the time arrives!

www.soops.net

New Year’s Resolutions 2016:
As you may have seen there’s a pretty large hole between my previous (and first ever) post and this one.
About that. For the year 2016 I made a New Year’s Resolution to write in more often and just keep it short instead of a (shortish) essay like before.
Short posts about the new gear I just bough, problems I’m running into and just general stuff I think I need to share. I have a few subjects already I think I can type few words about and hopefully it won’t take as long to post as this one!

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Music and emotion

So here’s my first “blog” post ever!

Where to start? Well lets start with explaining why I’d want to make a “blog” anyway.
Since I’ve been teaching game audio more and more I recollect important memories in my musical development and overall musical career. I’ve been playing in orchestras now for some 24 years starting with the local wind orchestra in my youth and later even the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as a percussionist.
In this time I’ve seen and heard so much beautiful things which, I can safely say, made me the composer, sound designer and musician I am now.

It’s things like these memories together with the things I teach during game audio classes and problems I stumble upon during production I want to share in a blog form. I hope you’ll enjoy the read and please leave me some comments on if you even want to hear me rambling on about this stuff!

Lets start digging shall we?
Throughout my youth orchestra periode I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some truly wonderful conductors who took the time to explain certain things about musical emotions, emotions that made a whole concert hall audience sniffle and even myself every time we played that one part. But lets start with one of my most forming memories.
In 1998 I was very fortunate to be picked from a handful of musicians from the Jeugd Orkest Nederland to participate in an international youth orchestra in Switzerland.
During the project we played, among other music, Schostakovitz 5th Symphony.

On the first rehearsal the orchestra played through the symphony and, as expected from eager young musicians, they played through it flawlessly.
The conductor, stopped us after part 3 Largo and complimented us on the performance so far….however…
“I’m missing the emotion” he said. He explained us what he wanted to hear.
“Imagine a little girl in the streets in Stalingrad during the war. Imagine her walking up to a soldier and asking him if he knows what freedom is…” As this may sound dodgy now it sure had a very big impact on our youthful minds back then. We played the part again and it had such another, deeper, feeling which made even my eyes water….everytime we played the it to be honest. The conductor may have made this story up but it worked very well.

*listening as a I type this and goosebumps keep creeping up neck*

This little anecdote is maybe more to describe how performing the music in a certain way can make a world of difference. I mean, the same piece performed by another orchestra could make you cry for a completely different reason.
Overall it’s things like this that helped me realize how strong emotion through music is.

I hope you enjoyed this first post, please leave me a comment on your thoughts and if you think I should pursue this blogging adventure 😉

Thanks for reading!


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