Interview with Inon Zur - Fallout 3 soundtrack composer
Interview with Inon Zur - Fallout 3 soundtrack composer
As always, Game-OST online with another cool interview for you. For that time we thought that you like to know more about Fallout 3 soundtrack creation. Is it so? Well, just read below!
I was born in Israel and played music from a very early age. I played piano and French horn and studied composition from the age of 10 years old. I arrived in the US in 1990 and studied at the Grove School of Music and UCLA, soon after I was composing a lot of music for TV and movies. In 1997 I was approached by Four Bars Intertainment to compose music for games. At first I said no but then my agent sent me examples of music from games by composers such as Ron Jones and when I heard the quality was of a high standard I agreed and was offered my first game, Klingon Academy. From then on I started focusing a lot on composing for games. I’ve since composed over 40 game soundtracks including popular titles such as Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, SOCOM II, Crysis and Prince of Persia.
How did you get involved into project?
I composed the music for another Fallout game, and the Bethesda team was familiar with my work, so I was approached by them to compose the music for this game based on my previous experience.
Was there any concept-art available when you start your work? Did you receive working game demo?
There were very few concept art or pictures available. I was provided with mainly script and written descriptions. Unfortunately there were no working game demos available.
What do you think about Fallout 3 as a game? Do you like play games?
It is very impressive in every aspect, but the element I like the most at the heart of the game is the story. I am a very strong believer that the driving force behind any media should be a good solid story. If we have that the rest is just details; we need to let the story drive all the aspects of the game and just make sure we stay on track with it.
Did you play previous Fallout games? What do you think about music of Mark Morgan? Are there any references to brilliant Fallout 1-2 soundtracks?
Mark’s music has very strong hand writing, and it is very effective in the previous games. Sometimes I reference similar methods of musical sound design when it was called for, but utilized in a different way, a bit more active and with an attitude. I also added some new components to the score that were not in previous Fallouts. Overall Fallout 3 was treated with a more orchestral approach to support the more cinematic story and feel of the game.
Would you like to be the Chosen One? If yes, whom do you choose to be at Wastelands: charismatic person, guy with the big gun or Brotherhood of Steel member?:)
I was always the “Lone Ranger”… I like to fight alone, so there is my answer:)
What were the differences between this project and Fallout Tactis: Brotherhood of Steel?
The story for Fallout 3 is more personal and vast. It is less technical and cold, and has many human aspects. The score reflects this as we try to support the new direction that the developers were looking for.
Tell us how the record sessions were going (if were)? Where and how did you record them?
The music is mainly sample-driven and electronics, which I performed in my studio.
What instruments did you use for creating this soundtrack? There are some rumors that you even used a banjo for some Western-like tracks in game. Is that true?
Yes, that’s true. I tried to integrate some unusual instruments in the score, so it will have a different otherworldly sound. Also, the combination of folk instruments and heavy sound design synth which was processed to create the “retro – post futuristic” feeling is an important sound for the game.
Is there any dynamic music in project? If yes, how it will be implemented into game? Which type of music you prefer to write more: dynamic or standard?
Actually, except for some of the stems that I drew from main tracks that were used for variation purposes, we didn’t play too much with a dynamic music system. Rather, we let the music help build the atmosphere and be more of a “scene framing tool” role rather than a strong active component.
For 200 years, Vault 101, a fallout shelter, has served the surviving residents of Washington DC and its environs, now known as the Capital Wasteland. Though the global atomic war of 2077 left the US all but destroyed, the residents of Vault 101 enjoy a life free from Giant Insects, Raiders, Slavers, and yes, even Super Mutants. Yet one morning, you awake to find that your father has left the comfort and security afforded by Vault 101 for reasons unknown. Leaving the only home you've ever known, you emerge from the Vault into the harsh Wasteland sun to search for your father. Fallout 3 is a singleplayer action role-playing game (RPG) that combines the horrific insanity of the Cold War era theory of mutually assured destruction gone terribly wrong with the kitschy naivety of American 1950s nuclear propaganda.
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I feel that the Bethesda team that worked on this game – Todd Howard as the lead producer and Mark Lampert as the lead audio – were very supportive and gave me a very free hand in the writing. They believed in my musical senses and very seldom intervened or changed musical directions. We had a very good collaborative process.
Tell us about your studio equipment (hard ‘n soft) and music creation process of yours?
I use many music sample libraries on the Giga Studio software, which is a very powerful tool. I use Cubase as my sequence software and use some outboard gear like older synthesisers to give it sometimes a more analog touch.
How much time did you spend on Fallout 3 soundtrack?
I worked on the score (on and off) for about a year.
We know there will be about 1 hour music in the game. It is too little for such epic game… Why is so? Keeping treasures for yourself? :)
Not at all. This was what the developer wanted. They did not want to go for the massive WALL TO WALL sound, they had something more minimalist in mind, so only one hour of music was enough to create what they were looking for.
Were there any funny moments during your works on soundtrack? :)
We always laugh… Humor has a very strong role in collaborations… you can’t really get close to know someone without humor. I can’t really recall a specific moment but I can tell you that overall the producer has a great sense of humor and every time he felt like it he would give me a very funny description of what he thought my music sounds like… he was very entertaining.
Would you like to play Fallout 3 more when the game will be released?
Are you proud of your work? What made shine your soundtrack amongst the others?
I don’t think that my soundtracks are superior to any other mainstream games. I think that I always try to predict what the gamer should feel in a certain scenario and I try to motivate it with the music. The emotional element is very strong in my music, and I always try to find what really drives the story and support it with my music.
Will there be an official soundtrack for the game released?
You are one of most recognizable game composers right now, don’t you think about solo album works?
Yes, I think about it, and hopefully I can do it when I have more time.
What can you advise for amateur composers?
Talent is about 25%, the rest is hard work and persistence. Believe in your self and work hard to follow your dream, this is the only way. There are no short cuts as far as I know. Be patient and active, and always write , write, write.
Thanks for your time!
And, be sure to visit Inon Zur official site www.inonzur.com where you can find additional info and news!
Special thanks goes to Greg O'Connor-Read at Top Dollar PR (www.topdollarpr.com) for help in interview arrange.
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