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March 2016

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Page 41 of 51 40 POST MARCH 2016 AUDIO FOR GAMES FALLOUT 4 Of the eight Fallout game titles created so far, composer Inon Zur (www.inonzur. com) has scored four. And it's no wonder why he keeps getting the job. His latest score, for Bethesda Softworks's Fallout 4, was nominated for Best Score/Soundtrack in The Game Awards 2015 in December, and earned another nomination for Best Interactive Score in the 2016 G.A.N.G. Awards (Game Audio Network Guild), the winners of which are announced this month during the Game Developers Conference. While each score he's written for the Fallout franchise has its own flavor, one thing remained the same in Zur's approach — using traditional musical ele- ments in a non-traditional way. For Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel he asked a group of singers not to sing, but instead to shout, cry and stomp their feet. On Fallout 3 he hired the well-respected clas- sical string quartet, The Lyris Quartet, to not play specific notes, but to improvise music on their own, which Zur then edited together to create a disturbing track. On Fallout 4, instead of playing his piano, he decided to attack it. "I did mean things to my piano. I bowed it, I hit it, I shouted into it. I took this familiar instrument and played it in a non-traditional way," Zur says. His goal has always been to create a score for Fallout that feels familiar yet unusual, one that will mirror the parallel reality that Fallout offers. He also took the reverse approach and played non-traditional instruments in a traditional way. For example, much of the percussion on Fallout 4 is improvised from found items, like an oil jack in Zur's back- yard that he hit like a drum. When not in the studio, Zur records his impromptu instruments on a Zoom H4. The two XLR/ Hi-Z input jacks let Zur match the mic of his choosing to the source sound. "I can connect my great microphones, and take it into the garden and hit things, bow things, and scratch things. Then I can combine those recordings into the score," he says. Fallout 4's score also includes virtual instruments. While a few commercial libraries found their way in there, the ma- jority are from Zur's previous recordings, which he made into virtual instruments for Native Instruments Kontakt. "I have at my disposal a large library of sounds that I have recorded myself. No one else has those sounds and that allows the score to sound original," he says. Zur builds and mixes his score in Steinberg's Cubase, a DAW he's been with since 1988 — back when it wasn't yet called Cubase. When recording live orchestra, he links Cubase to a dedicated Pro Tools rig. Zur explains that, "When we are mixing orchestra, we are actually mix- ing live, meaning the MIDI is not stamped out in audio files. It will play live, and it is also syncing to the live orchestra on the Pro Tools system. If the orchestra plays a little differently, I can adjust the MIDI to the orchestra." Another bonus of Steinberg's Cubase is its potential integration with Audio Kinetics's Wwise, which already offers direct connection to Steinberg's Nuendo 7. "I really hope that Steinberg will also do the same thing with Cubase because Wwise has really enabled me to do so much. There's definitely been a change in game scores since everyone is working with middleware, like Wwise. The ap- proach toward the music hasn't changed but our ability to work with interactivity is expanding. We can really stem things out, and create dedicated transitions for each cue so that things are flowing. From a musical point of view, we always strive to do what is best for the game; it's just that the technical aspects have gotten so much better." ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST Ori and the Blind Forest, published by Microsoft Studios, is nominated for six separate sound awards at the upcoming 2016 G.A.N.G. Awards being held this month. Those nominations include Music of the Year, Best Original Soundtrack, and Best Original Instrumental. It has already won the D.I.C.E. Awards 2016: Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, and was nominated for The Game Awards 2015: Best Score/ Soundtrack. Composer Gareth Coker (gareth-coker. net), who spent four years crafting the music for Ori and the Blind Forest, reports that 122 music cues make up the score. "All of the tracks have a special meaning to me in some way because they were written over a long period of time in my life," he says. The two tracks that stand out most for him are "Completing the Circle," which the player hears when Ori obtains his last core ability, and "Light of Nibel," which is a medley of the game's themes and also marks the conclusion of Ori's journey. For "Completing the Circle," Coker features the bansuri, a bamboo flute from South Asia, Composer Inon Zur built and mixed his score for Fallout 4 in Steinberg's Cubase, a DAW he says he's been using since 1988. Zur has since been nominated for a number of gaming awards for his work.

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