[Nikola Jeremic is a longtime PreSonus user, fan, and all-around good friend to the company. He’s written outstanding blog pieces for us in the past, and this is no exception! Today he sheds some light on the oft-misunderstood process of music and audio for computer games, in particular, the just-released science fiction epic “Starpoint Gemini Warlords.”]
How is doing music for games different than doing music for film or TV? What features in Studio One make it particularly well-suited for this application?
Doing music for games is technically a completely different process than composing for film or TV, because the music in video games is non-linear and interactive, unlike on films and TV. When you compose a cue for film or TV series, you are limited to the timeline of that particular scene, and you have to sync everything to fit in that particular timeline. In the game, the music needs to follow the decisions of the player and fit itself to the various situations the players will get into. That is why I compose a cue for a game in segments. In other words, I create a piece of music that can be divided into looped 8-16 bars parts that can be interchanged inside the audio middleware and each cue has a short ending stinger that can be triggered at any point to end the music cue. This idea is best applied to big action sequences and boss fights. When it comes to ambient atmospheric music, it’s fairly similar, but sometimes it’s not needed to be looped, and you can just transition from one ambient track to another, because I usually compose them in the same key, or I at least make them start and end on the same note for easier transition. That’s the approach I used for Starpoint Gemini Warlords for example.
You’ve been using Studio One for a long time. What are some of the more recent features that you found yourself using during the scoring of Starpoint Gemini Warlords?
Scratch Pads are hands down THE BEST idea ever! I love having the option of being free to experiment and change the arrangement of a cue in a single project that’s opened. It is very useful when I want to create different versions of one track to test how it sounds in different variations. I also love the fact that no matter how many scratch pads you have opened, everything is mixed in the same mix window, so I can bounce different versions very easily and quickly send them off to the developer for listening. I have to say that Studio One Mixer is absolutely the finest and probably the most respected mixing engine out there today. I have a lot of DAWs that I use for composing when collaborating with other people on projects, but I ALWAYS mix my tracks in Studio One. Project page is also awesome, especially when I need to deliver a big amount of mastered tracks to a client and I need to make sure they all sound the same and have the same levels. It’s just amazing, and the fact that I can quickly take care of meta-tags and add album art cover is really cool. The official soundtrack for Starpoint Gemini Warlords is being prepared in Project page, and it makes my life a whole lot easier. I also love the fact that it has all the needed metering in a single window, so I don’t have to load other plugins and use up my CPU. Bouncing in place and converting tracks in project pool is also a feature I use a lot. Creating FX chains with various plugins has made my mixing and sound designing process lightspeed faster, because I can always recall a preset I have created and use it over and over again no matter what plugins I have in the chain. Mojito is still my favorite go-to synth for bass lines. I generally love the sleek and clean look of Studio One interface and its plugins, because it makes my job a lost faster and easier to do without the need to think about “ooh what does this button do?” or spend a lot of time in sub-menus to find the option I need.
Do you use the Notion integration?
Yes I do. Not always, but I most of the time when I am working on piano and orchestral pieces, I always check my score sheet with Notion. What I’d love to see in the future is having Notion editor as an actual part of Studio One Pro. For example, when you open up a midi editor, you can also switch to Notion editor in the same window and tweak the notes on the staff.
Does your score consist of recordings of live instruments or are you using virtual instruments exclusively? If so, which ones?
The score for Starpoint Gemini Warlords consists of both virtual and live instruments. All of the guitar and bass parts are recorded via my FireStudio Project interface, and I also recorded my external hardware synths through FireStudio. This is mostly synth-oriented soundtrack that pays the homage to some of our favorite games and sci-fi franchises. My main synths here were my hardware synths Yamaha DX7 and KORG Volca Bass and Volca Keys, and all of them were processed through my guitar pedals, but regarding the software synths, I used Arturia V collection (mostly MiniMoog V, CS-80 V, ARP 2600 V, and Modular V) and U-He Zebra 2. I also used Mojito for basses and Mai Tai for some pad and drone sounds that were later processed via different FX plugins.
As Starpoint Gemini Warlords is clearly a Space Opera of sorts, do you take any inspiration from John Williams’ use of leitmotif in Star Wars? Any other musical influences you’d care to talk about?
What I love about Little Green Men studio (the developers of the game) is that it’s a group of fanboys and fangirls and it was a lot of fun at brainstorming meetings regarding the soundtrack for the game. Everybody was into sci-fi music and everyone has their own favorite franchises, so I had to do a lot of research and take a listen of various sci-fi game and film soundtracks. There were no traditional leitmotifs for characters, instead we decided to represent each sector in the game with a different melodic theme based on what usually goes down there, so for example more friendly sectors have some light evocative music, alien sectors are more mysterious and feature elven type of vocals and exotic woodwind instruments, while pirate and outlaw sectors are very dark and aggressive in sounds. The biggest inspiration came from video game soundtracks such as Homeworld, EvE Online (I’d love to score that one in the future), Mass Effect, Deus Ex The Human Revolution, and Battlestar Galactica TV series.
Any advice to share for musicians and producers who want to get into game audio or music but don’t know where to start?
First thing I suggest you do is to join audio societies such as AES (Audio Engineering Society), G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild), and visit conferences such as GDC (Game Developers Conference) and GamesoundCon. You will meet a lot of people from the industry, and they will all be more than happy to share knowledge and forward you to other people as well. Read books on game audio from publishers like Focal Press for example, I know that helped me a lot. You can always look for some smaller mobile gaming developers out there in your local communities and get in touch with them as well. And the most important thing of all is to learn your craft and learn it good. Don’t get overwhelmed by this or that plugin that’s newest on the market or whatever. Get a set of tools that you like and learn them well inside and out. You will be amazed by how easily you can get great results with bundled plugins that come with your DAW. I still use my Studio One Pro EQ and Compressor most of the time for sampled stuff. Create your own sounds from the stuff that you have. A developer will always learn to appreciate more the fact that you took your sweet time to create something original that’s only for them, than sending them something created with commercial instruments libraries that everyone uses.
[This just in from James F. Reynolds, pop and dance music’s “secret weapon.” He has mixed and produced a wide range of acts including Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sande, Years and Years, Tinie Tempah, and The Saturdays. Last year he made the switch to Studio One and was kind enough to share his insights with us.]
• For what applications are you using Studio One Pro? (Example: for recording, composing, sound design, and so on; in a commercial studio, project studio, for live recording, etc.)
I use Studio One 3 Professional for mixing, production, and recording.
• What led you to choose Studio One? Was it the company’s reputation, audio quality, ease of use, specific features, price, other factors?
I spent many years using a combination of Logic, Pro Tools, and Ableton Live, as they all have strengths in different areas. I had been searching for a while for a DAW that has the best of all these platforms, for example:
Last year I had quite a few producers in my studio talking about Studio One and decided to investigate further. After taking some time to get to know the program, it became apparent that this was a program that has been thought out really well and ticks the box of being a one stop shop for mixing/production and writing.
• Having used Studio One, what do you like most about it?
I have used it consistently for 5 months now and it has sped up my mixing and overall workflow. One of the best features is being able to set up a series of commands using Macros. It’s also very stable.
• What Studio One features have proven particularly useful and why?
The arranger track is very handy, as often when I am mixing a song, the label wants extended versions. The Arranger and also to try out different structures within the arrangement. This is very easy to do using the arranger as it can copy any section with all the automation related to it.
• Any user tips or tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One?
My tip is this: if you are trying Studio One out, stick with it. It’s always very difficult switching from a platform that you use day in day out for many years as everything is second nature. It takes a while to get back to this speed on a new platform but if you persevere it pays off !
• Please give me some basic background info on your career and current projects, credits, and so on.
I am mainly known as a mixer. I am currently mixing Emeli Sande and before that was mixing Ellie Goulding “Still falling for you” (U.S.A radio mix) and Kelly Clarkson. I also mix for a K Pop band called B.T.S who’s album last year broke records. I co wrote “Drinking from the bottle” with Mark Knight and Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah. For more info, check out www.jamesfreynoldsmixing.com
• Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?
I am really excited about the future of Studio One and have been really encouraged by a development team that actually take on board feedback from mixers and producers and often implement ideas if they are good. This was a big frustration with other DAWs, as feedback was not listened to or acted on.
But if we had the option, doing what we love at the beach is high on our wish list. Somehow that’s just what Cory Davis, with 30A company based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, has figured out how to do in his work at 30A Radio.
30A is a highway along Florida’s gulf coast offering visitors more than just a beach vacation. Fine dining, prefect sandy beaches, weekend farmers markets, bike trails… you’re not going to want to leave. It’s also where the Truman Show was filmed. You may have seen a bright blue bumper sticker when driving around town–it looks like this:
Davis is the Director of Sales for The 30A Company advertising department, and programs and manages 30A Radio. Davis recently got his hands on one of our AR12 Mixers and we wanted to hear how it was treating him and improving his workflow.
Learn more about our StudioLive AR Hybrid Mixers here!
Many PreSonus customers ask, “what’s the deal with the Cajun recipes in the back of PreSonus manuals?” May seem odd coming from an audio company, agreed. The truth is, we think it’s cool. We’re a Louisiana company and we’re proud of it. Good food and good music go hand in hand, especially in Louisiana.
We thought it would be fun to combine those things so we hooked up our friend and PreSonus artist Linzey Rae from the band The Anchor with a classic Louisiana recipe for gumbo for one of her Metal Kitchen episodes. Bon Appetit!
She pronounced “andouille sausage” correctly and that makes all of us happy. Can’t wait to hear what’s next from Linzey and The Anchor! Thank you for sharing and for using Studio One!
Try out Studio One for free HERE!
Notion user Michael Josephs is an award-winning American film and television score composer. He has written and conducted musical scores for many notable films and television programs including Wild Kingdom, National Geographic, and many PBS specials. Recent projects include scores for HBO, BBC, PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, The History Channel, and many others. Michael received a National Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music for his score for the series Thoroughbred. He has received numerous other awards. He received a National Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music in 2001. He has received numerous other awards.
I compose and conduct music, mainly for long-form documentaries and TV series, and the occasional independent feature film. My first scoring job was doing a brand-new series called America’s Most Wanted for Fox Television. I did that full-time for a few years right at the start of my composing career, which was a great education because it was on the air around 50 episodes per year, so I was always writing and recording. Most shows only run maybe 8-10 episodes a year, so for Fox I was constantly writing and recording every week, which was a great learning experience, especially because I tried to treat every week like a completely unique score instead of just generic “crime music.”
From there I branched out and started to work for other directors and networks and do other shows like “Wild Kingdom”, “National Geographic”, HBO, a lot of PBS stuff, etc.
I rarely have the luxury of seeing something before it’s handed to me to start writing. I do try to take a day or two at the beginning and just work on thematic material at the piano, some of which, and sometimes none of which, will end up in the film, but it gives me a moment at least to close my eyes and think about what kind of score it will be. The deadlines are always very tight so it’s nice to have a little space to imagine before diving into the mechanics of writing.
From there, I put the film up and start writing from the first frame. I tend to write sequentially, so I go cue by cue straight through the film, rather than jumping back and forth to different scenes. Sometimes themes develop as you work, so I’ll jump back some times and incorporate things or hints of where things may lead.
I started my career before computers, recording live directly to 2” tape for many years, so the computer and digital-video still seem like an incredible luxury to me! Some of the sequenced parts stay in, and I write and copy charts for everything that will be played live.
If it’s a smaller score, I do most everything at my own place, including a lot of overdubs, and then I’ll mix here. I’m set up for 5.1 mixing, and it’s very comfortable working in my own space. If it’s a larger ensemble I’ll do some tracking and mixing at a commercial studio because room is just too tight here. I also conduct the sessions too.
When I track somewhere else I’ve started a new thing lately, which is to just use their physical space and microphones and cue-system, but record right into my own portable rig and rack, which saves time and confusion transferring files back and forth.
Most of the time, at least with documentaries, there are no temp scores or preconceived notions. Directors want me to come up with the concept, direction, vibe, really everything. It’s the opposite of people loving a temp-track…there is no guidance at all, so I really try to give each film something completely different and unique.
As far as directors and producers, it really doesn’t matter how much or how little they know about music, but rather what kind of creative spirit and vision they have. I work with people who know absolutely nothing about music and are wonderful and creative to work with, and others who know a lot about music but have bad instincts with it. It’s really all over the place! I don’t feel it’s their job to know a ton about music. If they could compose music, they probably would!
Notion is AMAZING! I love it. I own both Finale and Sibelius, but they have to be the most difficult, not-intuitive programs I’ve ever encountered. Just doing some little tweak requires me to pull out the manual, and even then I still can’t figure it out!
From the day I tried Notion, I was hooked. It is completely intuitive, and I have never looked at the manual. When you want to do something, it is always very obvious how to do it quickly. It can go pretty deep if you need it to, but the basics are right there and not hidden fifteen deep in some hidden sub-menu. For day to day trying to get work done, it is unparalleled. With the budgets I have, I need to do my own orchestration and copying, and the last thing I would want to do is take three days off of precious writing time to do charts. Film music usually has a ton of key, meter and tempo changes, so this further complicates that process.
Sure. I do a quick clean-up of the music before I export a midi file from my DAW. I then import that file into Notion. I also open my empty “template” file in Notion that is set up the way I like, add the relevant instruments to the staff, then do a mass copy / paste of the imported midi file into the template. This is great because Notion reads all of the key and meter changes beautifully. From there I quickly add articulations, dynamics, clean stuff up, and extract the parts. It all goes very fluidly with Notion.
I did a really good film recently called Dateline Saigon, which both has a score and also arrangements of period music. I dove right in with Notion on that, and it was fabulous. I compose 99% of the time, so doing arrangements was a little different for me, and Notion made it possible to do the charts and also change them up and re-print them really quickly when there were re-edits of the film.
I also did another terrific IMax film right after that, but it won’t be released until next year… so watch this space!
Where can we find more about you and your music?
Well, her name is Linzy Rae. Linzy and her band, The Anchor, are the masterminds behind the viral video YouTube series “Metal Kitchen.” With over 1.3 million views on their first video, and 35K followers on Facebook, they caught our eye–and ear.
Check out her first video “The Ghost Inside makes Shepherd’s Pie” from December 2015.
“The Ghost Inside makes Shepherd’s Pie” from December 2015.
Linzey is the lead vocalist for The Anchor, a Melodic Metalcore band based in Denver, CO. They’re also big fans of PreSonus so we figured we could trade them an interview for some Cajun recipes. They agreed and everyone wins!
The band started out with an Audiobox USB 2X2 with a free version of Studio One 2 Artist. We eventually upgraded to the producer version because we loved it so much. Now we have Studio One 3 Producer.
We have used Studio One Pro for our first two EPs in my band, The Anchor. We have used Studio one for our entire YouTube channel as well. It has worked great in our home studio.
We originally used it because we needed a USB interface. We were told the Presonus Audiobox 2X2 would be a great start! It came with Studio one Artist and we loved it because of its user friendliness. Also the all the tutorials have been extremely helpful.
We love it’s user friendliness, compatibility with vst’s and plugins. It also comes with great mixing tools as well as the Project Page is such help with some post mixing/mastering things.
The project page is particularly helpful in putting final touches on songs.
Go watch the tutorials and Studio One Experts! It is so helpful!
Studio One 3 is a great expansion to the already awesome Studio One 2 we had previously. We will never switch, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for PreSonus.
I started uploading some covers to YouTube about a year ago. Now we consistently upload covers on a weekly or biweekly basis. We have videos such as Metal Kitchen, Scream It Like A Girl, and Pop Goes Metal.
We were in the studio and someone was going to order Chinese food for dinner. While I was in the recording booth, they asked me what I wanted to eat and I screamed “crab cheese wantons,” which created a running joke. Afterwards, our friend made a joke saying that I could write a recipe into one of our songs and people wouldn’t know the difference (Since the common opinion of metal music is that you can’t understand what the vocalist is saying). Then the idea sort of grew from there.
The video completely caught us off guard it was amazing and also scary at the same time. We have never had so much attention on us all at once!
We just released a Metal Kitchen about making Black Bean Burgers featuring Miss May I’s song, IHE. For the next metal kitchen we are thinking about making Tacos to an All That Remains songs. Metal Kitchens format probably won’t change that much but we have a lot of other cool ideas that we can’t wait to try out!
Try out Studio One for free like these guys did HERE! Who knows, you may be the next YouTube sensation! Stranger things have happened…
Obviously, Willem Rebergen, or better known as DJ Headhunterz, is an incredibly talented EDM artist. A part of his genius is a result of his detailed understanding of the functionality of Studio One 3.2.2 and the ease he’s reached working with the DAW. After our initial conversation with Rebergen a couple months ago, we realized that he is a wealth of knowledge that we would love to hear more from—and we knew you would, too!
Here’s part 2 of tips and tricks for Studio One users from DJ Headhunterz!
“I’m not over exaggerating when I say that Studio One brought back the fun of making music for me,” Rebergen states. “I finally experienced what it feels like to ride the creative wave without constantly falling off it. Studio One motivates me to keep perfecting my workflow and I keep discovering new ways to do so every week.”
Rebergen starts off with tips that will ensure an easy, creative flow with Studio One. “If I were to give a tip it would be to make full use of the browser features and the MusicLoop feature. When I finish a song I completely undress it and save all sounds I made in the form of channel presets,MusicLoops and audio files. With every song I make my library expands and whenever I’m in the creative process I can recall any sound I am looking for without having to get into sound designing or endlessly searching through sample libraries. I make sure that every sound I save in MY library is on point. So they rarely need a lot of tweaking to fit into a song and I can just get on with concentrating on the creative part.”
“On the other hand I spend whole days making new sounds, collecting new drum samples, tweaking them etc. So that when I start a song, I’m loaded with content where I can just pick from very quickly.” Rebergen goes on to say, “Another thing I do is I keep an app open on the side called sticky notes where I type down all my newly made key commands (yes I constantly make new ones). I then force myself to use them all the time so they become a natural part of my workflow. Key commands make everything so much quicker and Studio One allows for using them for almost anything.”
Rebergen goes on to share general production tips that have worked for him over the last decade.
- Another thing that I have learned over time, and often read but always somewhat ignored, is that it is absolutely crucial to work with the right sounds. So often, I have found myself trying to fit things in a mix that simply did not fit. It’s very useful to learn to be honest to yourself when making music. Even if you’ve spent hours on making something. Those couple of hours don’t mean anything when you listen to your song by the time it gets released months later. Try to be alert and not be afraid to throw stuff away. It can open up for new ideas when you clean up.
- Nowadays more and more I make sure I have my pallete of sounds ready when I start a song. So that I don’t stumble upon these issues so much. I make sure the sounds are right so that it really comes down to the idea of the song at this point.
- Some tips on making saw leads like I often do in my tracks. I love to use chords underneath but I also love using portamento. So to keep that intact, I just make 3 copies of my lead, nowadays mostly Spire or Serum and I play on each one a note of the chord. This way I can still play a chord while maintaining the glides that are a big part of how the melody is expressed.
- Set the portamento so that it’s only triggered when two notes overlap so that you have complete control over when and how much it glides. I find that using this function instead of pitch bend automation feels more natural because I assume it has a different curve to it.
- Also in the synth itself I often link an envelope to the pitch of the sound and give it a very short attack and set it to about 2 semitones down. So that each note has just a slight pitching up in the beginning. This also brings more expression into the lead sound and makes it less static.
- Find the sweet spot with detuning. LFOs can also help for nice detuning without making it sound too false.
One last reminder from Headhunterz before we wrap. “Keep a beginner’s mind and acknowledge that the learning process is endless. I still feel like a noob sometimes. But I’m very passionately curious, I always want to keep discovering new ways.”
Keep an eye out for more from Headhunterz with part 3 of this series coming soon.
It’s been a long road since Bryce Avary first started putting out music under the name The Rocket Summer 16 years ago. With roots in pop and alt-rock, Avary showcases his talent by writing, producing and playing instruments on all 6 of his albums. The Rocket Summer is currently on tour for their newest record Zoetic which was released in February. We recently caught up with him to see how the tour was going and how the RM32AI Mixer was working for them.
Avary’s assembled a killer live band to take his songs on the road! They’re using the RM32AI Mixer for their in ear monitoring system and mixing everything on their own. Hear more of Avary’s thoughts in the video below.
The RM32AI is obviously a perfect fit for The Rocket Summer and it may be just what you’re missing. All summer long (and then some) select dealers in the USA are offering discounts of Kozmic proportions on StudioLive mixers – See more HERE!
Pete “Boxsta” Martin with Boxsta Music is an award winning, multi-talented producer/songwriter and one of the most sought after mix engineer in the world. He has worked with a variety of top selling artists such as Arrow Benjamin, Jessie J, Sugababes, Alexandra Burke, and Missy Elliot. Here he discusses leaving Pro Tools for Studio One 3.2 and the ease of the transition.
“Studio One is an incredible platform because it’s the best of every DAW out there. It’s totally new and fresh; it encompasses everything you need.” – Pete Martin.
For more on Studio One 3.2, click HERE.
Paul Drew is the D of DWB Music Ltd/ DWB MIXING. The DWB Music team have sold in excess of 50 million records and have worked with a plethora of artists from around the globe. Here Paul discusses the ease of transition from Pro Tools to Studio One 3.2 and the speed of the workflow with the DAW.
Paul is also a member of the Studio One Expert team where he shares his tips and tricks with thousands of users. Paul states, “As a long term Pro Tools user I’m finding this DAW really inspiring to work on. With Studio One my workflow has been refined, I’m excited and inspired every morning I travel in to the studio.”
If you’ve been holding off on crossing over to the most quickly-growing DAW on the planet, there’s never been a better time than now! Save $50 to crossgrade until April 30! –See more here!