Archive for August 2nd, 2012

August 2, 2012

BIG BUDGET PROJECT (WHAT PEOPLE REALLY REMEMBER)

You would think it would be inevitable. You work really hard all your life to get to a point when you can finally grab the brass ring. You land a project with a huge budget to create a 95-minute score using one of the best orchestras in the TV, film and game world. Well, any seasoned composer can tell you, that’s not always what people remember about you.

I left Microsoft in 2003 and formed my own music production company, DDMusic LLC. It was shortly after the release of “Rise Of Nations” and pretty unexpected considering my contribution to Microsoft Game Studios (MGS). But I had faith that a full-fledged sequel wouldn’t be far behind, so I pressed on. While business isn’t my strong suit, I managed to score the expansion pack “Rise Of Nations: Thrones And Patriots” (developed by Big Huge Games and published by MGS), get involved in a few small projects, and expanded my TV and film production music catalog worldwide.

Then along comes the project of a lifetime. “Rise Of Nations” had made a big impression as a first-time-out intellectual property. It was holding its own against some very successful and well-established real-time strategy games of the day. Partially because of the release of my soundtrack on Nile Rodgers’ Sumthing Else Records, I was on the short list to score the sequel.

Bottom line, I was contracted to score “Rise Of Nations: Rise Of Legends.” I could now afford a composer’s dream team to accomplish a truly world-class music score. Stan LePard – orchestrator, Guy Whitmore – audio director, Simon James – music contractor, Northwest Sinfonia – 34 piece orchestra, Reed Ruddy – lead recording engineer, Studio X (Seattle) – recording studio. The list goes on.

From inception to final delivery, I spent almost a year on the project. The 60-to-70 hour weeks were filled with pure adrenalin and a creative outpouring that yielded, what I felt, was my best work ever. I was proud to have accomplished something on the scale that would sit alongside any AAA game title or major film release of the day.

But right before the project was to be released, MGS decided to pour its marketing dollars into other projects. The game probably didn’t even recoup the cost of development and never reached the level that we were all hoping for.

In the big picture, what a lot of people remember about my video game soundtracks, is the little game that started this whole scenario – “Rise Of Nations.” A gathering of very creative, motivated people who had the drive and common goal of creating a piece of pop culture. I am more remembered for the original, low budget, “Rise Of Nations” soundtrack, where I recorded a few players at a time, than the big budget, epic soundtrack from “Rise Of Legends.” But I am still very proud of this soundtrack.

Always remember that it is not the size of the budget or the scope of the project. It is the heart you pour into it.

You can not succeed, unless you accept the fact that you will fail every once in a while. Think positive, be confident and always move forward.

Here is the opening movie from “Rise Of Legends.”