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the bulk of it will come across in a few years as still up-to-date,
because orchestral writing never really goes out of style if it's done
- Jamie Christopherson
Tracksounds talks with composer JAMIE
CHRISTOPHERSON about his work for one of Capcom's most anticipated
game sequels, LOST PLANET 2. Jamie shares about working
with Audio Director, TOMOYA KISHI, collaborating with Capcom-staff
composer, MARIKA SUZUKI, and what it was like returning to the LOST
PLANET world and the differences we'll hear in the original score
this time out.
interview has been transcribed and edited from the original audio
Listen to this interview and our interview
Tomoya Kishi and Marika Suzuki on The SoundCast. (Use dropdown menu)
Used by Permission
it's great to have you on the SoundCast today.
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: It's good
to be back with you after a few years.
CC: It's really good to be talking to you again,
and it's really good to finally see LOST PLANET 2 on the shelves for the
fans to enjoy! It was a bit of an adventure of its own, in terms of
getting to the point of releasing the game. Wasn't it?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: We finished the score over
a year ago now, or at least my portion; the orchestral portion of it. I
think the original release date was somewhere around Christmas time, and
then the marketplace became bombarded with releases. So I'm pretty sure
they pushed it back to tweak a few elements of the game, but mainly to
find a window to launch the game.
CC: How early on did you know there was going to
be a sequel and that they wanted you to write the score?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I think that was about two
years ago from today. It was a year before we did the actual recording
when they gave me a call, saying “Hey, down the pipe here,
we're going to be working on LOST PLANET 2. Of course, I was very excited,
because the first one I have very fond memories of. So from
that point, I'd say my production cycle was about a year, and it was
similar to the way I had worked on the first game, in that it would come
for a few months, and then go away for another few months while they
worked on the development phase. So I'd be working on another project
during that time, and it would be completely off my plate. Then we'd wait
for more visuals to come in, and there would be a “Phase 2”. I think we
did about 4 phases, and then a cinematic phase at the very end, which was
still a year ago. So I had composed the music over the course of 9-10
months, but not continually.
CC: When you're in a cycle like that and you
have to live with what you've done maybe 6 months earlier, do you ever
think, “I wish I could go tweak this and that”, or rather
“That's done and I'm moving on to the next part”?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well the good thing is, we
actually did go back and tweak some things from the earlier phases, based
on changes in our palettes and in our approach on certain things. A lot of
those things that I did earlier on, waited until the very end to get the
orchestral treatment anyway. So during that time, I was kind of tweaking
up things, up until the very end of the mix. So, yes, I would revisit
them, but the tricky thing is, I would make sure not to do any major
computer overhauls during that time, because I wanted to keep a similar
sound palette throughout the whole process.
CC: I was able to jump back and forth between
your scores for LOST PLANET and LOST PLANET 2, and the orchestral part is
on another level. You brought Wayne's Theme, or the Main Theme over from
the first game to the second, but it has a much richer treatment. Did Audio
Director, TOMOYA KISHI say, “These are the thematic pieces we want to
bring across”? Did he leave that up to you or was that a collaborative
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: TOMOYA is very detailed in
what he wants, which is great. He knew very specifically what he was
looking for in LOST PLANET 2, and the main thing he wanted was more of a
classical science-fiction approach, with a massive live orchestra, and
also to veer away even further from the electronic stuff we did in the
first installment. The main focus
of the bulk of the game was on orchestral, science-fiction kind of music.
I kept pushing him further and further into putting in
electronic elements, and he would pull me back away from those things. In
the end I think there was a nice balance, because it is science-fiction,
and you want to throw in a little bit of those more modern sounds.
Hopefully, the bulk of it will come across in a few years as still
up-to-date, because orchestral writing never really goes out of style if
it's done well. So I think those were his intentions, to get the emotions
across with an orchestral palette. As far as the themes, obviously Wayne was the main character from LOST PLANET 1, and for
the new game he's totally gone, I don't know if he's even mentioned. But it
focuses on the enemy from the first one, the Nevec, and now you take charge in
controlling them, so it's a very different approach. As far as Wayne's
Theme, it did have some similarities to the Main Theme in LOST PLANET 1,
and I think the only place we really do that in full-form is in the Main
Title of LOST PLANET 2. I gave it a different treatment, with a lone
trumpet at the beginning, and it gets to be almost more of a “memory” of
LOST PLANET 1.
CC: When you're writing a score, and you're
seeing the material that you're working with -whether it's concept art or
early renders of the game-, and you can tell, “Wow, this is going to be
something special...”, do you leave yourself room to expand musically,
thinking “This is probably going to get a sequel, so I'll write it in such
a way that I can expand on it, if there is one”, or do you just go
straight for it 100%, and say “Here's everything I've got. If there's ever
a sequel, I'll just deal with it later”, and move on from there?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: [laughs] First of all, I
don't know if there's ever going to be a sequel to any game that I do.
[laughs] You never know, so you can't bank on that. Second of all, I don't
know if there going to hire any of the original people, or if they're even
going to like my music. Those are all speculative things. So in that
regard, I put everything that I've got into whatever game or movie is at
CC: Well now, the environment changes a bit,
we're back to the same planet of Eden, but it's not just a frozen
wasteland anymore, it's become more of a jungle, essentially. How did that
environment change impact the music you wrote?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: That was actually the
really fun part, I got to go to a lot of new, different environments.
Actually we do start off in the snow with the cinematics, so I brought back and tried to fish out some old samples that I built for the first one, and used that frigid sound for a little
bit, but it isn't there for long. Then, we immediately head in the totally
opposite direction, which is a jungle atmosphere. So, obviously, that has
its own kind of sound, and we'd have to leave from there and go elsewhere: from desert to outer space, so there's a huge variety of game's
atmospheres. It was a lot of fun, obviously, in that I could make each
one sound as different as possible, but all relating to the same universe.
CC: You had a bit of collaboration with MARIKA
SUZUKI, and the piece she contributed is titled “Sub-Theme”. It has a
lyrical, traditional Japanese flair to it. What was the thought there, and
how did you work with her when it came to that?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Well she's the in-house
composer. It's the first time I had met her. She's worked with them for a
bunch of games, but this is the first time we've worked together. She sent
me some stuff that she had been working on before I wrote anything, which
I thought was very well done. So it raised the bar right away; I was like
“Wow, this is what they're doing in-house?! I'm going to have to step up
my game, and show them why they hired an outside composer”. So it was
good, and then once we started talking, she sent me a few thematic ideas
she had for a few of the levels. I believe there was a kind of desert
dweller in some of the desert levels, and she'd came up with a theme for
them, so I incorporated that kind of sound and I thought it was really
cool. It was already touching base on a little bit of flamenco influence
for the desert scenes, so I thought that was cool and she really
influenced me in that way.
We decided to collaborate on a few tracks, including the main titles,
which I think is the first thing that pops up in the game. So that's
definitely a collaboration that we did. And like you said, she also wrote
a sub-theme, which I think it was the first time she had recorded
something with a live orchestra. I could be wrong about that, but I think
that she had mentioned that. Anyway, she wrote the sub-theme which is kind
of based on the framework that was from both of the games, and like you
said, it was very lyrical, which was very nice, because I wasn't hired to
do any lyrical stuff like that. All of my stuff was battle music and
over-the-top action. I think everyone was happy with it as it was
a nice piece.
CC: Yes it was. I was privileged enough to be
there at one of the recording sessions at FOX STUDIOS, and what was great
was MARIKA SUZUKI and TOMOYA KISHI were on Skype for the entire time.
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: That's right; they were on
Skype, and they were also dialed-in with Source-Connect for higher
quality, so they could hear the sounds as we recorded each take.
CC: Have you ever been involved with something
like that? I know it's happening more and more nowadays, but had you ever
been a part of something like that?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Not anything on that
scale. I've done Skype, where people are listening in and given feedback,
but nothing where they could instantly hear it. This is my first time
using Source-Connect where they could instantly hear it and give feedback,
even though I think they were so blown-away with the sound of the
orchestra that they didn't have any feedback, really. They were just
sitting back and enjoying our collaboration, but it was a lot of fun to at
least see their reaction between takes, and things like that.
CC: True, and they stayed on the entire time,
which is quite a few hours, and they're about 13 hours ahead of us.
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: They were up all night.
[laughs] You could see by morning time, they were pretty tired-looking
over there, but also very satisfied. This is not music to go to sleep by,
you know? Once you start dozing off, some trumpets would blare and wake
you up right away.
CC: Switching gears just a little bit, you had
mentioned in our last interview, which was way back in 2007, that
BLADESTORM was going to be the first score you did in 5.1 Surround Sound.
How did that end up going for you and was LOST PLANET 2 done in the same
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Yes, LOST PLANET 2 was
done in Surround, and we even did a few things in Stem. I don't know if
they implemented surround in the stems. I'm
not sure, but we did record and mixed everything in Surround. Our
mixer was one of my favorite mixers, SHAWN MURPHY, who does a lot of JOHN
WILLIAMS, JOHN POWELL, pretty much all the top film composer guys. That
was probably one of my biggest treats, to work with him.
CC: I assume it extends the mixing time when
you're mixing for 5.1, is that true?
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I think people like SHAWN
MURPHY are used to mixing in Surround, so he's mixing in Surround and also
grabbing everything for his Surround-mix at the same time. I'm not sure if
you were there, I think you were there for a little bit for our mixing
CC: Yes. I was.
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: That was the next day, after we get a nice mix in surround,
SHAWN MURPHY folds it down the way
he likes to do it into stereo, and so then it's already done. He's been doing
this for so long, it doesn't necessarily add much more time. He's
CC: As I was mentioning earlier, I
think this score is fantastic. It's a step or two ahead of the last one
and I really enjoyed the last one quite a bit. So my final question is, in
the Special Edition of LOST PLANET, it had a disk that contained your
score. To my knowledge, there's no Special Edition of LOST PLANET 2 out at
this time, but will your score for this one find any sort of official
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: I thought that there was a
Special Edition. I don't have it yet, but that's what I've heard, and I've
heard that it was shipping with a “Making-Of LOST PLANET 2” disc, because
they had a full video crew there, with 5 cameras. I have not seen any
footage or anything like that, but I would assume that the footage, if
there was any, would be on that disc. But I don't know for sure. They
definitely have the music, and I don't think they're planning a soundtrack
right now, but CAPCOM has been doing a lot of releases through Sumthing
Digital, I think, but I don't know.
CC: Hopefully they'll have a Special
Edition release here in the States and that your score is included. It's really
fantastic work. I also hope there's a LOST PLANET 3
on the horizon, where we can get more LOST PLANET music from you.
want to thank you for joining in on the SoundCast. We look forward to
talking with you again very soon!
JAMIE CHRISTOPHERSON: Thank you very much,
Transcription: Vince Chang.
Editor: Christopher Coleman.