As I mentioned before, this is my entry to Dynamic Interference’s Monthly Sound Design Challenge.
Also, this is the first video with my new logo.
Please, any constructive criticism is encouraged.
Commentary and insight on my journey into the film and video game industries.
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Recently, I picked up The Complete Guide to Game Audio and I must say, it’s an amazing book. It’s answered just about every question I’ve had that I couldn’t find in an article, forum, blog, or otherwise, and I highly recommend it. But this isn’t a book review, this is a realization. The realization that I wasn’t taking myself, or my future as a career composer / sound designer, seriously.
In fact, I was treating it as a pipe dream — something that would be nice to have, but not something I could ever get. And that was effecting everything I was doing outside the actual music and sound design.
Once I realized it, I made a vow to myself and the world (via my Twitter account):
[Dave Matney] will be living entirely off money made through music and sound design by 2013.
On January 16th, 2013, I will be turning 30, and I don’t want to be the 30 year old that doesn’t at least have a foot in the door toward the career of his dreams. The career I’ve been working toward since I was six years old when I first started writing goofy little songs on my mom’s piano. (Sure, I wanted to be a rock star, but, in 1989, I didn’t know people even made video games, I just thought they existed.)
So, I need to make some changes.
I’ve advocated working for free in the past, despite all evidence to the contrary, and I’m now realizing that I was wrong. With few exceptions (Open Source projects, for example, where everything is strictly voluntary, or one-time personal favors), no one should ever work for free. Even if you’re working for a church or other non-profit, you can still get a letter of charitable contribution, which is a tax write off.
So, it comes down to this: If the person I’m doing the project for is getting paid, and/or if anyone else working on the project is getting paid, I am getting paid. I understand each project is different — students don’t have the kind of money a corporation has, and some projects pay on the back end instead of up front — but the fact of the matter is I have worked twenty-one years of my life toward this goal, and I deserve it.
I have enough experience, and almost enough footage, to put together a demo reel. So, as I polish off my plate I will begin the process of putting together my demo reels, both for sound design and music. I need to show the world that I am worth what I am charging.
My brother and I have been kicking around ideas for this site since I started it, and that’s been keeping me from moving forward with business cards and such, as I’ve been waiting to get everything properly, and uniformly, branded. So, when I roll out my completed demo reel, I will roll out a new site.
In the mean time, and even after then, I will be blogging regularly. Not every day, but I will promise at least weekly updates. I won’t be don’t weekly links, and sometimes my weekly updates will be slightly anorexic, but there will be a weekly touch down from me. Probably every Friday.
All in all, I think these are the best moves for me, my family, and my career. And, like I said, by my 30th birthday, I will be living entirely off money generated from music and sound design (and, if possible, game design and game writing, but that’s not my focus.)
Here’s to moving forward. ►►
Over the next few weeks, I plan on compiling my knowledge, both first and second hand, on (as the title suggests) guerilla / punk rock marketing for modern composers. The information I’ll be given is freely available on the internet, but it’s either hard to find or adapted from other sources not intended for composers.
Also, this information can easily be adapted to any other field, creative or not, within reason, so please don’t feel like this is just for composers.
Finally, this series of entries will be updated as I do, and learn, more things.
So you fancy yourself a composer, huh? Or you want to be? Awesome. I’m not going to ask you why, or try to deter you in any way. What I am going to tell you is it’s going to be hard. Movies are relying less and less on original music. it’s getting harder and harder to break into the video game industry, and as home recording is becoming more accessable, the independent music and sound category is getting saturated with people who want the same thing as you. To write music. So, it’s going to be hard.
Now, I can’t make you a better composer. But I can show you where to start, and point you in the right direction.
What, you expected some thing different? Maybe some thing that actually involves music? Well, that’s coming, but as search engines base your ranking on the age of your site, the longer you’re online, the better.
Yeah, you’re right; this isn’t “write music,” either. Why not? One simple reason: people aren’t going to wait for you to “get ready.” They’re going to want your music, and they’re going to want it immediately. They’re not going to wait for you to purchase software, hire musicians, record, digitize, and send it to them. In most situations, they’re not even going to pay you up front for your work; they’re going to expect you to have everything you need to make music for them, and get it to them. That includes access to funds to print the score, hire and record an orchestra, if that’s the method you’re expecting to take. For most of us, that’s not the kinda scratch we have laying around, so we’ve gotta figure something else out.
If you already have a system that works for you, then feel free to skip this step. If you don’t, I’m not going to explain the absolute nitty gritty when other people already have. I am going to say that you don’t HAVE to write and record all of your music on a computer if you’re more comfortable with a piano, manuscript, and have access to a multi-track recorder. Going that route may be easier or cheaper, given your experience and the amount of gear that you already have. But, if you’re totally new to this, start digital.
Also, whether it’s on a Mac or a PC doesn’t matter, anymore. So stop arguing.
This is the stage of the game I’m currently at.
Finally, you’re writing music! So, what should you write?
Well, whether or not you’re planning to write music for role playing games, I don’t feel like it’s a stretch to say roleplaying games require the most musical versitilty. And, lucky for us, Patrick Gann, at RPGFan, has made a list of the types of music all RPGs have.
So, write that.
If you’re not the type to just write without a project, you’re not out of luck, you’re just out of easy options. Ask around for leads on independent films or video games that may need music, and check places like Craigslist, GameDev, and IndieGamer. Contact them, offer to write music for them for free (explain you’re looking to build a portfolio), and hope. You’ll send out far more emails than you’ll recieve replies, and you’ll recieve more replies saying they don’t want you to help them than you will people that are willing to accept a blind offer for free music (go figure).
This is the stage I suggest linking any and all previous band experience you have, if you have any.
A few things about building your portfolio:
In closing, I hope this helps. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact me or leave a comment.
If you’re reading this from one of my cross-posts, let me first say “thank you for checking me out,” and second “but your princess is in another castle.” Meaning:Thanks for coming this far, but this is just a carbon copy of the material that I post on my website, DaveMatney.com, where you can also find my portfolio. You can keep reading my stuff on this site, but things like images, audio samples, and updates may not work correctly.
This entry is built in reverse, telling you what I learned first, then what I should have done, finished with what I did. In Game Design Concepts Level 4, we were challenged to build a non-digital adaptation of a video game. I chose Chakan: The Forever Man, a Sega Genesis platformer. As you can probably tell by when I was assigned that task, and now (when I am posting it), it’s pretty obvious I bit off more than I could chew. I tried to develop a completely playable game, which was the objective, but I kept adding and adding and adding, and I’m STILL not finished. So, What Did I Learn?
So, what SHOULD I have built? Chakan’s difficulty lies in ONE area: jumping. Many jumps are pixel-perfect pits where, if you miss them, you fall to you “death” and have to start the level over. (This video represents that frustration well. Take into consideration that he’s using a utility to save his game, which wasn’t possible in the actual game; every time he dies in this video, he’d have to return to the beginning of the level) So, the game I SHOULD have built would have been like this:
- Reflect difficulty of, and dependence on, jumping as a game mechanic
- 40 glass markers, separated into 10 of each of the following colors: red, green, blue, clear.
- 16 plastic skulls
- A mini-fig to represent Chakan
- Mini-figs to represent the different enemies
- 20 1”x1” wooden tiles
- A dry-erase square-grid board
- Dry-erase markers
- A game for 2 players
Order of Play:
- Play begins with Chakan. After Chakan has completed his turn, it is the Game Master’s turn. On their turn, the Game Master may move all monsters currently on the gameboard. This sequence continues until the Quest Level is completed, or until Chakan returns to the Hub.
- Any Player’s Turn
- Whether playing Chakan or the Game Master, a player does one of the following on his turn.
- Moves his figure(s) and performs an action
- Performs an action and moves his figure(s)
Movement: To determine how many square spaces to move, you must roll 2d6. Then, move carefully across the board square-by-square. You do NOT have to move the entire distance indicated by the dice roll. When moveing, however, you cannot pass over monsters, move through walls, or onto areas you must jump to. You may move diagonally. You may only enter rooms through doors. Jumping: Jumping is an action. To determine how many spaces you can jump, you must roll 2d6. Then, moove Chakan across the pit to be jumped. You do NOT have to jump the entire distance indicated by the dice roll. When jumping, you can only move in a straight line. You may only jump up one “level” at a time.
Levels are indicated by stacking the wooden pieces. One wooden piece is 1 level up, two is two levels, ect.
Admittedly, that game wasn’t very good, and it’s only about half finished at that state, but it’s playable if the players are creative. What I made, instead, was a complete waste of time. Read the rest of this entry »
I promise, I won’t update nearly this often in the future.
Last night I got around to playing with the electric hip hop beat I was working on. I doubled the bass track with a stock Kore Player bass, and I cleaned up the guitar. Also, I (accidentally) changed the lead synth sound, and I don’t like it as much.
If I’m lucky, tonight I’ll add some more to it.
Also, I’ve been pounding away at remixing a PARPG track that Matt Becker wrote. He did a good job with it, capturing the desolation and depression we asked for. He did such a good job, in fact, that I can only spend about an hour remixing it before I have to work on something else.
When I get closer to a finished product, I’ll upload it here for your listening pleasure. In the mean time, you have to deal with my hip hop.
Over the weekend, my wife was awesome enough to let me take advantage of Native Instrument’s “Kompletely Insane Deal!” (Komplete 5 for a third of the price; my apologies if you miss it), loading my DAW with 65 gigs of professional-grade sounds.
To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about the complexity and potential of Absynth, Reactor, Massive, and most importantly, Kontakt, but that’s never stopped me before. And it didn’t! As soon as I had the samples loaded, I started pounding away at my keyboard, listening to the new sounds, and I must say, I was impressed. The stock sounds are of a quality I’ve never had on my computer, and I feel it will be quite awhile before I’m fighting with my software to get it to sound the way I want.
Speaking of sounding the way I want, as I was dabbling through Massive, I found a bass sound that I was completely inspired by, and I had to get the inspiration into Sonar ASAP.
The drums are mostly a preset kit from Battery, with a single thing changed, bass from Massive, the guitar I recorded with Line 6′s Pod Farm, and the compton-esque lead is from the Kore Player. It’s REALLY basic, and rough, but it marks a style of music that I’ve been unable to write, previously, so I’m excited.
Keep an eye out for the next steps, as I finish it.