AFM Musicians Hit the High Score in Video Game Recordings

International Musician, May 2010 | Go to article overview

AFM Musicians Hit the High Score in Video Game Recordings


Video games have come a long way from the simplified soundtracks of Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, and the days of 8-bit, 16-bit, and primitive synthesizer tunes. With immense technological advancements in video game graphics there is an increased demand for orchestral music that can match the tone of the game and amplify the experience of complex story lines and epic themes. That's where AFM musicians come in.

Over the past few of years, work for AFM orchestral musicians has boomed in the video game arena. More complex video games create the need for elaborate music and orchestral scores that AFM musicians can record and take to the next level. Recent major video game recording projects include God of War III and BioShock2.

"I've worked at the AFM for three years, and during that time, it's been an honor and a privilege to represent and promote all of our wonderful musicians in several categories of business," says Electronic Media Department Associate Director Savina Ciaramella. "Ifs been especially gratifying to watch the video game category grow tremendously with our new streamlined video game agreement, which has provided more employment opportunitites for our members. The composers and producers are overjoyed to be able to work with the best musicians in the world, under an agreement that offers fair and equitable wages and important benefits for musicians. It's truly a win-win situation."

God of War III

The final installment of Sony's God of War trilogybrought five composers together to create one epicsoundtrack, which was recorded at Skywalker Sound.Gerard Marino, Mike Reagan of Local 47 (Los Angeles), Cris Velasco, Ron Fish, and Jeff Rona of Local 47 pooled their creative talents into a score that emphasized strings, percussion, and brass-particularly tubas, trombones, and cimbassos-to create a menacing tone.

"The brass players really loved it, they ate it up-so did the string players," says AFM contractor Janet Ketchum of Local 6, who contracted the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra based in the San Francisco Bay area to record the soundtrack. "The interesting thing about God of War III was the number of composers. It was really interesting to hear one after the other."

Ron Fish, of the God of War trilogy, adds, "Each composer is very talented in his own right, and has his own individual voice. When brought together, the end product was that much richer because of the unique combination of styles, which was woven together brilliantly by the music supervisors at Sony. These skilled musicians rose to the challenge."

The project employed 64 musicians for three days of double sessions in September, then used 62 musicians for a double session in November and 18 brass players for two days of double sessions, also in November.

Marino, who wrote 35 minutes of music and has been with the God of War series since the beginning, says the AFM musicians lived up to all the hype. "I don't know any composer who wouldn't prefer to work with AFM musicians," he says. …

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