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A Moment's Weight by Jeremy Hardin
 

"A Moment's Weight" by Jeremy Hardin

Joris de man - Killzone 3 Recording Sessions at Abbey Road Studios


"It's all about expectation," Joris says.
He pauses, and sips from his Coca-Cola can.
Joris, or Joe to his friends, is talking about his passion: music.
Responding, I ask if that's why songs tend to finish with a sense of completion.
"Yes," he answers. "But you want to delay that; it'll heighten the resolution when it finally arrives."


In hindsight, I wonder if he knew that this would be his own experience of KILLZONE 3's music composition and eventual recording at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Joris de Man, Ivor Award winning music producer and composer, recently completed work on Guerrilla Games's KILLZONE 3, a triple-A title for Sony's PlayStation 3.And one could leave it at that. A consumer of video games, films, and media could assume that all these products are linear, with a beginning, middle, and end of their creative processes.

Looking at the end result of KILLZONE 3 would lead to the same assumptions. The game is by all accounts polished, visual, and cinematic. It sports single player campaign mode, local co-op, and online multiplayer. Villains give speeches, and heroes fight heroically, despite all odds. But stepping back to October of 2009, the view of this project is entirely different. That was when Joris signed the contract to begin work on the music for KILLZONE 3.

Joris is no stranger to this franchise. As the Audio Director of the first Killzone game, he oversaw both the music and the sound design. His work can be heard in the sequel, Killzone 2, and the PSP incarnation of the series, Killzone: Liberation. His circumstances have changed since that first game, sure. Back then, he was in-house at Guerrilla, based in The Netherlands. Now he lives in the UK, working from the south coast, outside Brighton. When the hours are long, he takes his dog, Sadie, out on the pebble beach to walk.

But with all this experience, he still couldn't have known the difficulties he would encounter in the ensuing period of work, nor how those hardships would shape the music he was to create.

It is October 2009.

Killzone 2 was released in February, earlier that year. From February until this time, Joris has lived without Killzone in the forefront of his life.

His ankle has healed nicely. He fractured it during the time he was composing for Killzone 2. (He had to keep his leg elevated, so he arranged his control surfaces and workstation to allow space for his propped-up cast). But that is behind him, and the prospect of creating new original music is ahead. He is excited to create without a physical hinderance.

The fine print says 80 minutes of music. To the layman, that's less than the average film score length. But Joris and his wife Sam know to prepare for the inevitable big crunch, and the manic round-the-clock lifestyle that will escalate throughout the project.

A large portion of that composing time will go toward the in-game music. Since so much of the storytelling depends on the gamer, the music must be constructed carefully, like a puzzle, so that the pieces fit together in multiple ways. If the player does one thing, the music must follow suit; if the player does something different, the music has to respond accordingly.

And so Joris begins the process he knows so well. He starts with the in-game, and will work in conjunction with the game director, so that the visuals, actions, and the music all marry together seamlessly. He begins his 'sketches,' which, like the visual equivalent, involves bare bone tracks with minimal detail: sometimes just with a piano line. Then he works in the detail.

He starts with a single key piece of music -- chosen either for tempo or storyline -- and allows that creative direction to drive subsequent pieces. This is the first step on a journey that, even though he doesn't know it, will carry him through joy, tragedy, and eventually, recording at Abbey Road with some of the best musicians in the world.
 

Continue to Part 2

 

 

 

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