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SoundCheck

Sound Check: Jamie Lee

This week we are launching the first of our new monthly feature called SoundCheck. It intends to spotlight the work of a Sound Production student at New College Lanarkshire who has done particularly good work in recent months and deserves being showcased to the wider world.

This month, we would like to introduce you to Jamie Lee, whose work is featured in a recently released video game called Minitime, developed by the Norwegian indie studio Minibyte.

We asked Jamie a little about how he got involved and how he found his first experience of making music for a video game:

“How did you end up being involved in the Minitime project?”

Well the opportunity to work on the music for the game came around because of a few things. For one, when I was about 14 years old, I was composing stuff on GarageBand for the iPad in my bedroom, even when I was on holiday! A couple of years later I became friends with a guy who livestreamed Mario Kart on the website Twitch and said that he wanted to hear my stuff. This pushed me to upload my tracks to Soundcloud and one of the viewers named Thea liked the songs I had made and we became great friends!

She now works in video games, doing artwork and animation for an indie team named Minibyte. When working on Minitime, she remembered my fondness of composing video game tracks and so forwarded my name to the rest of the team she was working with. In the end, it was decided that they wanted two composers involved, myself and a German composer/producer named Hunga.

It just goes to show that you can find amazing friends and opportunities in the strangest places sometimes. Casually playing Mario Kart with viewers in a livestream, befriending them, can lead to doing the music for their game a few years later.

“How did you find the experience of working on sound for the game?”

I was initially scared that juggling college work and doing composition for this game at the same time would be difficult, but fortunately, I discussed this with my lecturers and they allowed me to use it as a Graded Unit portfolio artefact.

Communication mainly stayed between myself, Kristian (The Dev Team Leader) and Hunga within a Facebook group chat. The game consists of a large number of short minigames and Kristian would let us know when he had new content for us to play. So whenever there were new minigames added, we would choose which of us would compose the music for that particular section. The physical distance between us made communication a challenge at times, but we managed to make it work despite our busy lives and other commitments. (Shout out to Kristian and Hunga for being the coolest guys to work with!)

After the launch of Minitime on Steam, I got a ton of compliments on my work on the soundtrack.

“What software and tools did you use on this project?”

I didn’t get very technical with this project as it’s meant to just be dumb fun! The whole project was done within Ableton Live using my Arturia Keylab 49 that I bought after I was taken onboard by the team. Something funny I suppose I could mention is that Minitime’s main theme song was composed and played entirely on my PC’s keyboard!

I feel like Ableton Live 10 is fantastic in nearly every way and it was extremely suitable for this kind of project since it was heavily MIDI based. I implore anyone who is interested in composing for video games to get Ableton Live 10 Suite. I emphasise the Suite version because its better to be overwhelmed with instruments and various other options rather than scavenging the internet for that one French horn sample you desperately want for your victory fanfare.

“What was your compositional approach to the minigames”

I would open up the game and get a feel for the minigames that I would be composing for. I took into consideration the characters, the background/area, situation, game feel and pace. If a game was fast paced, it’d be obvious to just increase the tempo, right? The majority of the tracks are 120BPM to keep consistency between the minigames. Minigames, like the Guaca Mole and Tank, were influenced by what you see visually. You control a tank, so I composed a military style track using orchestral influence, yet kept it bouncy and light hearted. The Guaca Mole track was set within a jungle, so I felt that instrumentation such as steel drums and marimba would work with this setting. Its one of those instances where you need to use your own intuition to make a choice on what is most suitable for the setting.

“Can you outline some of the things you’ve learned during the process?”

In a project that is constantly changing and updated, communication needs to be really tight. If nobody else is communicating with you – be the one to ask the questions! You’ll get an answer and even get a conversation and discussion going where you may find more ideas. I found its best to be yourself and talk to the people you are involved with as if they are your friend. We all bonded because we’re all big Nintendo nerds. Having a wide variety of musical influences on hand, be it from YouTube or other places, can really help you find what you are looking for from a compositional or tonal standpoint.

When it comes to finding instrumentation or mixing techniques, I found it useful to study other peoples work to get a feel for what I was looking for. For example, I wanted to have the feeling of a Nintendo Wii Sports track in the Bowling minigame so I studied and replicated the music of this to find similarities and potential techniques used.

“What are your plans/hopes for the future?”

Professionally, I want to be obtaining opportunities everywhere, even in areas I am not so confident in as I feel the potential of failure allows you to grow as a person. However I am always optimistic that I can do an amazing job! I think the dream end goal would be to be picked up by Nintendo, its always healthy to be a big dreamer!

Places I can be found are:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UberLeezy
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/leezy-leezington
Email: uberleezyyo [at] gmail [dot] com

Minitime is available to buy from Steam for PC, here: Buy Minitime

Categories
News

Ross McFarlane Guest Lecture

Drum 4

BA Commercial Sound students were delighted to welcome world renowned Scottish session drummer Ross McFarlane to the studios at Cumbernauld Campus.

Ross has over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has drummed with luminaries such as Texas, The Proclaimers, Stilstskin, Justin Currie, Jon Fratelli, Codeine Velvet Club, Mull Historical Society, Isobel Campbell, Ian McCulloch and Kate Nash.

Ross, fresh from finishing a world tour with Texas, took part in a full day of drum recording, imparting his expert technical advice on the degree students. This was followed by an in-depth Q & A session where Ross gave a very refreshing insight into the industry as it stands today, as well as his life as a freelance/session musician.

Group Photo Ross

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Events

Spectacular! Roger Waters Us+Them 2018 VIP ticket opportunity

Coinciding with the department’s new website and exciting HN courses for 2018, we can offer one lucky New College Lanarkshire student from the Creative Industries department a VIP ticket to the Roger Waters Us + Them sound check and show at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow on Friday 29th June 2108. This unique opportunity will allow a ‘behind the scenes’ tour, VIP hospitality and, of course, the chance to see Roger Water’s iconic music, breathtaking quadrasonic sound and cutting edge visuals, performing many classic Pink Floyd classics and solo work.

To get a chance to win, simply share this post to Facebook or Twitter via the buttons below with the hashtag #NCLcreativesound. The draw will take place on Tuesday 29th May at mid-day and the lucky student will be contacted with further details.

For anyone interested, you can find out more about our Sound Production courses at New College Lanarkshire here:
https://nclcreativesoundproduction.wordpress.com/courses/

Categories
News

New HN Creative Sound Production Course at NCL

Academic year 2018/19 will see the launch of a new HN Year 1 course to be run at both NCL’s Cumbernauld and Coatbridge campuses. The new HNC promises to redefine the teaching and course content of Creative Sound Production with the aim of remaining at the cutting edge of industry training and preparation for the continually evolving opportunities now available for sound engineers. Course content will include projects that combine skill-sets through a range of disciplines and involve productions and opportunities both on campus and off, working on joint ventures alongside other creative media departments within the college as well as utilising the ever growing list of external partnerships.

Applications for the new HNC Sound Production course for 2018/19 are open now and can be completed online.

Categories
News

Degree students visit STV

Students of  BA Commercial Sound Production at New College Lanarkshire and UWS got an opportunity to visit the post production facilities at STV in Glasgow last Friday.

Head sound designer and mixer Donald MacLeod entusiastically showed students around the facilities which include a state-of-the-art surround sound mixing suite and a Foley performance room.

Donald, who has his name to a number of high profile TV shows at STV, including Taggart and Antiques Roadtrip, was also able to give insight into the sound design workflow, collaborative aspects with other departments and showed them his secret favourite Foley prop (a horses bit!)

The visit will no doubt inspire the students as they continue to tackle their post production project of semester 2.