SIPBLOG: The jams and the games – 7/6/22
My name is Katie Rupinski and I am a Composer and Sound Designer for Video Games and Film. I’m going into my final year at Berklee College of Music double majoring in film scoring and interactive media scoring.
Growing up, the music in games was the most memorable part for me. I can still sing all the music from the MMORPGs I practically lived on. Being part of MassDigi’s Summer Innovation Program has helped me take a lot of the teachings from school and dreams of gaming, apply them to real-life games, and substantially improve my craft. It’s been amazing working with such talented coders and artists but definitely my role as audio has different expectations and responsibilities.
Composition can be highly subjective so finding which music works for which game mostly has to do with research into similar game types. Then, the composition has to be done in a way where you forget all the music you just heard because coming too close could be dangerous for your game in terms of copyright. Personally, I like to take inspiration from instruments and tempo and then the rest is freehanded by taking chord types I already enjoy. Sometimes I will look into old classics like jazz standards and look at how the chords interact with each other and how they make me feel, then taking the emotions I’m going for, I’ll take apart and restitch those chords back together.
Sound design is a whole different ballpark that includes analyzing real-life sounds and what they are made of. There’s a fine balance between sounding realistic and fitting a game with art that requires an over-exaggerated voice. I like to start with a base sound of whatever I’m going for and add layers that will accentuate movements, contact between objects, or room dynamics. For example, if I’m making a sword sound, I like to start with a metal clanging or slashing. Then I can add a metal sharpening sound with my knife sharpener to give it some drama. Adding a swoosh sound gives it more movement and adds imagery with sound. Finally, with both sound and audio, mixing is a huge part of the process. Making sure nothing sticks out too much and takes attention away or that nothing blends in too much with the background.
The final result of putting music and sound effects together can be nerve-wracking and require a lot of edits to make sure the listener isn’t getting overstimulated, but the finished result is more magical than anything I’ve ever seen. Being a part of that process takes any form of media and gives it so much life to me. Working with the team and getting them to hear what they imagined is extremely rewarding and exactly why I do it.