Video Game Music Production Tips from GDC 2016

Game Composer Winifred Phillips during her game music presentation at the Game Developers Conference 2016I was pleased to give a talk about composing music for games at the 2016 Game Developers Conference (pictured left).  GDC took place this past March in San Francisco – it was an honor to be a part of the audio track again this year, which offered a wealth of awesome educational sessions for game audio practitioners.  So much fun to see the other talks and learn about what’s new and exciting in the field of game audio!  In this blog, I want to share some info that I thought was really interesting from two talks that pertained to the audio production side of game development: composer Laura Karpman’s talk about “Composing Virtually, Sounding Real” and audio director Garry Taylor’s talk on “Audio Mastering for Interactive Entertainment.”  Both sessions had some very good info for video game composers who may be looking to improve the quality of their recordings.  Along the way, I’ll also be sharing a few of my own personal viewpoints on these music production topics, and I’ll include some examples from one of my own projects, the Ultimate Trailers album for West One Music, to illustrate ideas that we’ll be discussing.  So let’s get started!

Continue reading

From Total War to Assassin’s Creed: Music from my GDC Talk

From Total War to Assassin's Creed: Music from my GDC Talk (article by Winifred Phillips, video game composer)Last week, it was my honor and pleasure to give a presentation at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. My talk was entitled “From Total War to Assassin’s Creed: Music for Mobile Games.” The talk focused on the best and most effective methods for composition and implementation of music in portable gaming.  The talk was structured for the benefit of video game composers and game audio pros, and as a part of the presentation, I played short excerpts of music that I composed for several of my top mobile and handheld video game projects. Now that GDC is over, I thought I’d provide streaming links to some of the complete music tracks that I featured during my presentation, in case attendees were curious about the complete pieces of music. So, without further ado, here are tracks from my GDC 2016 talk!

Assassin’s Creed Liberation

The Assassin’s Creed Liberation game was released by Ubisoft for the PlayStation Vita, and delivered an immersive experience from the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game was designed specifically for a portable system, and as such, all aspects of the design were adjusted to cater specifically to a portable gaming experience, including the music.

Game composer Winifred Phillips speaking about the music of Assassin's Creed Liberation at GDC 2016

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, LittleBigPlanet!

birthday-7thThe LittleBigPlanet franchise is 7 years old today!  On October 28th, 2008, the very first LittleBigPlanet game was published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.  In the seven years since that auspicious day, players have explored the whimsical world of LittleBigPlanet in countless awesome adventures.  I’m very proud to have been a part of the music team for this famous franchise.  So, to celebrate the game franchise’s seventh birthday, let’s go for a tour through the history of LittleBigPlanet!

Continue reading

139th Audio Engineering Society Convention Schedule

AES139_NYC_Banner

The Audio Engineering Society’s annual convention is next week, and the entire schedule is now available, so I can now share the dates and times for my presentations!

Sunday, Nov. 1st, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (Room 1A22)  Interactive Music of the LittleBigPlanet Franchise: Dissecting a Complex, Multi-Component System.  If you can only come one day, then pick Sunday, because I’ll be presenting an hour-long talk on the music system of six games in the LittleBigPlanet franchise. It should be a fun talk!

Saturday, Oct. 31st, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (1A22)  Game Audio Education – New Opportunities for Students.  I’ll be a panelist answering questions and participating in discussion of the role of education in a game audio professional’s career. Fellow panelists include Steve Horowitz, Scott Looney, Leonard J. Paul and Michael Sweet.

Saturday, Oct. 31st, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm (Room 1A07)  SPARS Speed Counseling with Experts – Mentoring Answers for Your Career.  I’ll be acting as a mentor and answering career related questions to participants in a speed group mentoring format. Game Audio mentors for this event will include myself, Tom Salta, George Valavanis and Gina Zdanowics.

Continue reading

139th AES Convention for the Game Music Composer

AES139_NYC_Banner

I’m happy to share that I’ll be a speaker again this year at the Audio Engineering Society’s annual convention!  Last year, the convention took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center – a familiar stomping ground from my many visits to the famous Electronic Entertainment Expo over the years.  However, this year will take me somewhere entirely new: the Jacob Javits Center in New York City!

jacob-javits-convention-center

I imagine that most futuristic metropolitan buildings look best when the sky is purple.  Since it’s impossible to capture natural purple skies in the wild, I assume that someone helpfully photoshopped a purple firmament for this promo picture.  The convention center looks very impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in person!

Attending last year’s AES in Los Angeles was a wonderful experience, and I was truly honored to have been chosen as a speaker for the event!  At last year’s AES, I gave an overview presentation about interactive music in video games – the talk was an expansion of the interactive music sections of my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music.  Here’s a video clip from my speech last year, entitled “Effective Interactive Music Systems: The Nuts and Bolts of Dynamic Musical Content.”  The entire speech is available for download from Mobiltape.com.

At this year’s AES, I’ll be speaking more specifically about my role as a member of the music composition team for the LittleBigPlanet franchise.  It will be fun to share my experiences as part of that wonderful music team at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and I’m looking forward to exploring some of the interactive music techniques of the LittleBigPlanet franchise!

4-LBP3-E3

This is a photo from the LittleBigPlanet 3 display in the Sony booth at E3 2014.  My presentation at the Jacob Javits Center will include lots of my music from the LittleBigPlanet franchise, and Sackboy will be making many appearances!

AES-MixBoardI’m also looking forward to seeing what’s new and hot in audio gear on the AES exhibit floor.  Last year’s show floor was crowded with humongous mixing desks like the one above, along with enough glittering gear to make a full-grown audio engineer cry tears of joy.  I’m looking forward to a similar spectacle this year.  In addition to the expo floor, the convention will include a comprehensive program of presentations, panels and workshops, and the popular Live Sound Expo will be returning this year to spread knowledge about audio solutions for live events.

On a more personal note – prior to attending my first AES, I read an article from the ONION (the world’s top news satire publication) which lead me to believe that, as an audio engineer attending such a convention, I would be able to gather with my fellow audio professionals and enjoy an in-depth discussion of our ponytails (warning: adult language).  I can report that this did not happen last year… which was a shame, because I made sure I wore a ponytail for the occasion.  😉

I submit the following photo as proof:

AES-AESDespite this minor disappointment, I had an awesome time at last year’s AES, and I’m very excited about this year’s event!  The convention will take place from Oct. 29th to Nov. 1st at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  Hope to see you there!

border-159926_640_white

Studio1_GreenWinifred Phillips is an award-winning video game music composer whose most recent project is the triple-A first person shooter Homefront: The Revolution. Her credits include five of the most famous and popular franchises in video gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. As a VR game music expert, she writes frequently on the future of music in virtual reality video games. Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.

LittleBigPlanet 3 – Hollywood Music in Media Awards

hmma2014

Hey, everyone!  After my blog yesterday about winning the Hollywood Music in Media Award, I’ve received a bunch of questions about LittleBigPlanet 3 and the Hollywood Music in Media Awards program – so I thought I’d post some info that explains everything in a bit more detail.  It’s a little easier to do this in third person, so here goes – I hope this helps!

On November 4th, game composer Winifred Phillips received a 2014 Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA) in the category of “Best Song in a Video Game” for music she composed for the LittleBigPlanet 3 video game (developed by Sumo Digital Ltd. and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, LLC).

As one of the composers on the LittleBigPlanet™3 music composer team, Phillips was recognized for her song, “LittleBigPlanet 3 Ziggurat Theme.”  

Info about LittleBigPlanet 3:

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced the news about this award on November 6th via their official LittleBigPlanet twitter feed.  

The critically acclaimed and best-selling PlayStation® franchise  LittleBigPlanet™ makes its debut on PlayStation®4  with  LittleBigPlanet™3. Sackboy™ is back, this time with playable new friends – Toggle, OddSock and Swoop – each with their own unique abilities and personalities.  This handcrafted adventure is set to revolutionize the way gamers Play, Create and Share in the world of LittleBigPlanet.

Sumo Digital Ltd, the developer of LittleBigPlanet 3, has forged a reputation as a World Class multiple award-winning independent game development studio. The company has grown exponentially over 11-years from 15, to 270 people spread across the Head Office in Sheffield, UK and a dedicated Art Studio in Pune, India.  Sumo Digital is one of the UK’s leading game development studios.

Info about the Hollywood Music in Media Awards:

The Hollywood Music in Media Award ceremony was held on November 4th 2014 at 7pm at the Fonda Theater (6126 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood).  The Hollywood Music in Media Awards recognizes and honors the creation of music for film, TV, and videogames, the talented individuals responsible for licensing it and musicians both mainstream and independent, from around the globe. The HMMAs is co-branded with Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference. HMMA advisory board, selections committee and voters include National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Oscar, Emmy, Society of Composers and Lyricists and Guild of Music Supervisors members.

Additional info about Winifred Phillips (the LittleBigPlanet franchise and the HMMAs):

Phillips’ award-winning track, “LittleBigPlanet 3 Ziggurat Theme,” from LittleBigPlanet™3, is a highly interactive musical work, written as a complex classical fugue, and incorporating an organic, world-music influenced instrumental arrangement in support of a women’s choir.  Phillips has received two previous Hollywood Music in Media Awards – in 2012 for Assassin’s Creed Liberation (Ubisoft®) and in 2010 for the Legend of the Guardians (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment).  Phillips is one of the composers on the LittleBigPlanet music composer team, and has created tracks for six games in the series, including LittleBigPlanet 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 Toy Story, LittleBigPlanet Cross Controller, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, LittleBigPlanet Karting, and now LittleBigPlanet 3.  

Phillips’ work as a composer for the LittleBigPlanet game series has earned her previous awards nominations from the Game Audio Network Guild Awards, the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, the NAViGaTR Awards and the D.I.C.E. Interactive Achievement Awards.  Phillips works with award-winning music producer Winnie Waldron for all her projects, including those in the LittleBigPlanet franchise.  Phillips is also the author of the book A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published in 2014 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.  

Nov. 4, 2014: My Music for the LittleBigPlanet 3 Game Won a Hollywood Music in Media Award!

2014HMMA_Billboard2This has been an exciting week!  I have a bunch of news to announce all at once, so here goes…

My latest project is music for the game LittleBigPlanet 3.  I was a member of the composer team for that project, and I composed many tracks for the game.  One of those tracks is entitled “LittleBigPlanet 3 Ziggurat Theme.”  It’s a classically-inspired vocal fugue written for a women’s choir, and I’m thrilled to say that on November 4th, my track won a Hollywood Music in Media Award in the category of Best Song for a Video Game!

2014HMMA_v5_591x270

 

Here I am, holding the Hollywood Music in Media Award I won for

In this photo, I’m holding the Hollywood Music in Media Award I won for LittleBigPlanet 3 Ziggurat Theme.

Since Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced the award today, I can now share it with all of you.  I’ve been bursting with excitement over my involvement in LittleBigPlanet 3 — it’s going to be the best LittleBigPlanet game ever, and I’m so honored to have been a part of it!  I’ve been keeping the secret for a while.

1-LBP3-E3

Here I am at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this past June, looking at the wonderful booth for LittleBigPlanet 3.

2-LBP3-E3LittleBigPlanet 3 features all new companions for Sackboy — you can see OddSock and Toggle pictured here.  Look at how huge Toggle is!

3-LBP3-E3

Of course, my favorite will always be Sackboy.  Just look at that face!  What’s not to love?

4-LBP3-E3

Doesn’t OddSock look like he’s whispering a secret in my ear?  I suppose we really were keeping a big secret then, and I’m so glad I can share it now with you all.

Well, that’s my big announcement.  I’ve been keeping this secret for almost two years.  Working with the wonderful creative team at Sumo Digital and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe on music for LittleBigPlanet 3 has been a wonderful adventure, and I’m so excited that the game will be released on November 18th!