Lost Planet:  Extreme Condition (XBox 360 Game)

 

 

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Composer Jamie Christopherson
Lost Planet's Extreme Composition

Born in Los Angelies, California

Bachelors Degree in Music Composition from Vassar College

Received Masters of Music Degree
at the University of Miami in 2000.

Worked for Soundelux as
a sound designer and composer.

Became Creative Director of The Hollywood Edge.

Worked with composer Bill Brown
on video game and film projects.

Started his own company, Broken Silence Productions in 2002.
 

 

Composition Credits (Game)

Blade Storm: 
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
The Lord of the Rings:
The Battle for Middle-Earth II
Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicles
The Crow: Wicked Prayer
The Lord of the Rings:
The Battle for Middle-Earth

Composition Credits (TV)

S.S. Doomtrooper
Boa vs. Python
Phantom Force
Epoch: Evolution

Composition Credits (Film)

Ghost Image
Inside Out
A Woman Reported
Frame of Mind
Maximum Velocity
Avatars Offline
Size 'Em Up
Boychick
Lost Cause

 

Jamie Christopherson's
Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie Christopherson

"I'd say the quality of game music has come to a point of being on par with many film scores. We are able to use higher fidelity music instead of compressing it down so much. In terms of implementation, the adaptive nature of game music still remains different from film. . . It's something that is improving but not necessarily "getting closer" to film."

Jamie Christopherson


The Interview

LOST PLANET: EXTREME CONDITION has been one of the most highly anticipated releases for the XBOX 360 since the game console's release. Game producer, Capcom, brought back composer JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON, to provide the score for the first-person-shooter. Tracksounds was able to catch up with Jamie to talk about LOST PLANET, some of his other projects and the growing industry of game music.


Lost Planet:  Extreme Condition Collectors Edition (includes original soundtrack by Jamie Christopherson)CC: Let's jump right into one of your latest projects: LOST PLANET: EXTREME CONDITION. How did you get involved with this game?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I became involved because I had worked with Capcom before on their project ONIMUSHA: DAWN OF DREAMS a year before. They were really happy with how that project came out, so they wanted SOUNDELUX to come back and do the whole soundtrack including: sound effects, voice over, and music.

CC: With your background as a sound designer as well, did you have any involvement in that end of the game production?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I didn't; however, we are all in the same building, so it was easy to bounce ideas off of each other.

CC: Did it help you a lot to be able to collaborate with the sound designers as both the score and the sound design were developing?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Sure and vice versa as well. That's one of the benefits of having a post-sound house that does everything for a certain project. For instance, they would be designing some of the sounds for the game's big-bosses, "the Akrid," which are an alien race. Depending upon what they might design, like a loud screeching sound for this huge, praying-mantis-like alien, then I would write music that would be in the same key as those screams and that would fit in that same sonic space.

CC: I'm sure you've worked on game scores where that wasn't the situation. What sort of problems does that present to you - where they are doing the sound design at the same time that you are writing the score and you don't have the ability to collaborate so closely? Does one or the other have to be complete first?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well, neither of them have to be completed first. What can happen is that the music might have to be mixed lower if it isn't written around the sound effect. It's just a bit of a bonus if they can be developed together, where the composer knows what type of sound design is going to happen or where the sound designer knows what kind of music is going to happen. That way no one is duplicating certain frequencies and there isn't anything that needs to be addressed in the end-game mix.

CC: So do you ever have to change your music or instrumentation as a result of a clash with the sound design?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Sometimes I've been asked for some changes like that, but, having a background as a sound designer, I can usually anticipate what is going to happen.

CC: Now when you came onto the project did you have a "blank canvas" from which to work musically?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: There was nothing super-clearly defined. I was given a sort of hodge-podge of cues from various sci-fi films and even some esoteric jazz scores that they liked. I had to decipher what it was they liked about certain pieces of music and then trying to create a language that was specific to LOST PLANET. It was quite a challenge and took a while to get that and the sounds for the first batch of cues to be correct.

CC: Was finding that right musical blend part of the reason that you've previously remarked that LOST PLANET was one of the longest game-projects you've worked on?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Not necessarily. It was just because the project, as a whole, was a long one. They did one phase early on which would revolve around the plot, where I'd do 20 to 30 minutes of music. Then that music would go away from me for 2 or 3 months. There'd only be small tweaks here and there, but nothing major. Then months later they'd come back to me and we'd enter another phase as they would have more cinematics or more levels completed.


CC: Was the process a lot different than when you worked on ONISHUMA: DAWN OF DREAMS with them? Of course for that you had Mamoru Samuragoch original work as a starting point.

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Now, that one I did in one set. For that game, I mainly did the cinematics. I did it all at one time with no breaks in between. They wanted me to use the main theme from the original game, but there were some new themes composed for the new game as well.

CC: Did meeting the Japanese music aesthetic present a challenge to you?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well, thank goodness, the Japanese team at Capcom wants the big, hollywood-sound right now. They are trying to get away from the "techno," j-pop, stuff that has been going on in video games for quite a while. So that's why I was brought in. For ONISHUMA: DAWN OF DREAMS they wanted to have the Hollywood, cinematic flare and they were happy with it. Since LOST PLANET isn't really geared for the Japanese market, it isn't really like any of their samurai games. It has a much broader approach - a very Hollywood, sci-fi, like style to it.


CC: Now have you played through LOST PLANET yet?


JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I'm at about the fourth level right now. When I get time to play it, I'm trying hard to make my way through it.

CC: Do you get distracted by your own music as you play or do you just remain fully immersed in the total game experience?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well, we didn't do a lot of the implementation here. They did it at Capcom in Japan. We had a little say but not that much in regards to where the music was utilized. It is interesting to play through the game and see where some of my music was spliced up and put into different areas. For instance, there was a "snow pirate" theme that played in the beginning of the game where you fight a huge worm-like creature. So it was cool to see that music utilized at that spot and I think it worked really well. There are parts of the game that I didn't get to see until the game came out...just like everyone else!

CC: Now do you play online as well?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Sure...I love the online version! My friends and I play.

CC: Care to share your Xbox Gamertag?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: (Laughs) Ummm...not yet. I have little enough time and too many friends on there already.

CC: Talk about what advantages the advances in gaming technology give you as a composer. Do these advances bring the scoring process for games more in parallel with the processes for scoring a film?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well, I'd say the quality of game music has come to a point of being on par with many film scores. We are able to use higher fidelity music instead of compressing it down so much. In terms of implementation, the adaptive nature of game music still remains different from film. There are a few new tools that are coming out that I'm studying right now that utilize some different techniques to implement music. It's something that is improving but not necessarily "getting closer" to film.


CC: We are starting to see more and more "a-list" film composers come into medium of game scoring, is that greatly affecting the level of competition for game score projects?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I'd be lying if I said no. It's definitely more competitive now, but in a good sense. I love competition and learning from people. That said, I've personally lost out on a couple of projects because of a-list composers jumping in.


CC: I wouldn't think an a-list, composer-name is going to actually sell many more video games, but do you attribute these other composers garnering game projects, at least in part, because they are a "big name?"

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Yes. I think "the name" can be a bit like the "star factor." Just like they might bring in a Nine Inch Nails and licensing their music, they are bringing in some of the bigger, Hollywood, composers to do the score. I'm not sure how much the composers are actually doing in terms of the quantity of music for the given score versus how much their assistants are doing. Another big thing is for such a composer to come in and do a "main theme," like Danny Elfman did, and then have someone else score the game. That is something I hope to do as well - collaborate with some of these composers.


CC: So what remains the draw for you to the video game genre - to want to compose music for it?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well it is still a budding profession. I grew up playing video game and I love playing them. The more quality music we can put in there the better. There is just so much room for expansion,  especially in regards to originality aspect.  The field is constantly changing. Film music has been well defined for such a long time. Obviously things change, but the technology of film music is essentially the same.


CC: As we finish up, talk about some of your upcoming projects. What is GHOST IMAGE all about?


JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I'm just about to start on that. GHOST IMAGE is with the same producer that was on THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER. I haven't even seen the picture on that one yet, so hard to comment too much on it. It's an indy film so the release date is all up in the air. Also I have another game coming out, BLADE STORM, which is almost done. That is going to be a fun game, which I just heard they are going to be porting over to Xbox 360 as well. Originally it was only going to be a PS3 game. With that game, they are trying to push some boundaries, as all of the music is done in 5.1 surround sound and its going to be loopable. This will be my first full-score that I've done in surround sound. I'm doing a few other things, but I can't talk about them much now: some stuff for Midway, one of them is called STRANGLEHOLD.

CC: Will there be a soundtrack release of BLADE STORM?

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Yes we're trying to get a CD release outside of the game. I'm not sure when the game will be released but I'm thinking sometime this summer.


CC: Sounds great.  Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk today. All the best in your upcoming projects!

JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Thank you very much.


 

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