Friday, February 22, 2008

Tattoo

Well, I did it...

I got stamped... got ink done... got my tatt.

I went into "New Tribe" down on Queen Street West - across from MuchMusic and got my tattoo done. I'll take pics later when it heals, but it's a representation of the kids' middle names (on the left there).

C's middle name (top) is "Shen" (some places spell the pinyin as "Sheng") which means "flourishing".

A's middle name (middle character) is "Li" which means "stand".


S's middle name (bottom character) is "Ling" which means "beautiful jade".

I had this guy over in China (Shanghai I believe) do the calligraphy of the characters - $6 for all three.

I brought it into New Tribe, made an appointment a couple of weeks ago and did the deed yesterday afternoon. I chatted a bit with the artist on how we could make it more interesting - less like a bunch o' characters stamped on me. C and I had been discussing this and were sort of thinking of some sort of frame or 3D kind of treatment around the characters.

The artist came back with a drawing that had the characters looking as though they w
ere carved out of a piece of stone - little cracks and everything too. Then he went at it.

Now, I've suffered through 4-5 months of a ruptured disc in my back plus having my thumbnail removed, so I think I've got a bit more pain tolerance than an average Joe. But, I gotta tell the truth, it hurt a bit more than I thought it would. It wasn't anything that was unbearable or anything, but definitely not the most comfortable feeling.

I also got the tattoo on the top of my left bicep which is in itself a bit of a tender place. I hear that ribs or anywhere close to bones is more painful which is something I'll keep in mind for next time (ahem) ;)

New Times...

The kids thought it was pretty cool this morning (the first time I took the bandage off). I don't know if they quite know that it's different than the temporary ones they get. Nor, do they have any of the preconceptions of tattoos and the taboo we were taught they represent when we were young.

I distinctly remember conversations with my parents when I was a teenager - discussing (sometimes heated) my possibly getting an ear piercing and/or more "radical" hair styles. Granted, mom and dad definitely grew up in a more conservative time and I think that some of those barriers were lowered for my generation, but deviating from the expected "normal" still wasn't looked upon fondly.

Thinking back on that really raises some questions for me when looking at the environment my kids are growing up in. I'd like to think that a lot of those preconceptions about appearance that we grew up with - fashion choices, hair styles, music tastes, body "modifications" - have become more accepting.

Maybe it's our living on the west coast for 13 years or maybe it's our generation as parents or maybe it's the influence of the Internet/new media, I don't know, but I feel that C and I have a more relaxed view of what's "normal". I don't think that a lot of our parent peers in this neighbourhood would necessarily share some of our extended views and opinions on things - this is Toronto after all. It's main industry is banking and finance, so there in itself is a bed of conservatism.

I certainly hope that our kids will grow up sharing and even going further than us in embracing diversity in people. It's okay to "fit in" and be accepted by different people and different groups, but I hope that we're giving them the foundation of confidence to be individuals and make intelligent decisions about who they are and as equally important, treat everyone they meet equally without social preconceptions.

I remember growing up with preconceptions of what a person was like by the way they dressed and looked like. I don't know when those preconceptions went away, but I think I'm one of the first people to reserve opinions on a person until I at least get to know them a bit. Tattoos, leather, studs and body-piercings have been on some of the most honest and caring people I've met.

I think both C and I are setting a consistent example of tolerance and acceptance to the kids. I think it's sticking as I see lil' C thinking things through and not necessarily "following the pack" on opinions and positions. We'll see how it goes - it'll definitely be interesting to hear what he and his siblings perspective on this in twenty years... ;)

Friday, February 15, 2008

The New Kiss Army

I came to the realization that my kids are destined to be new recruits into the KISS army this morning.

I usually get requests for songs on the way to school - "Video Killed the Radio Star" and other 80's classic greats, but recently it's been KISS...

And more specifically, "Rock 'n Roll All Nite" (and party every daaaayyyy....).

I looked back in the rear-view this morning to catch lil' A literally banging his head and "playing" drums in the back seat - just like a seasoned air-band professional would. The kicker was the huge grins on his and his siblings faces as they were all belting it out:

"You keep on shoutin', You keep on shoutin'!
I, Wanna Rock and Roll all niiiiiite!
And Party every day!"

I was so proud dropping off my 3 and 5 year old at their Montessori school while they were still singing, quite loudly, the chorus of what I'm sure is the anti-thesis of what Maria Montessori initially intended when she first set up her curriculum way back when...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three Years...

It almost went by me today...

It's been three years since I had my heart attack.

February 13th, 2005 was a Sunday when I woke up and my life changed forever. I was blogging back then and just looked to see what I'd written and if those posts were still out there - found it on the site where I used to post my thoughts.

It was definitely ironic, when looking back on it, that the one thing in my body that is the icon for the next day (February 14th) decided to break down.

The "anniversary" almost flew by without me realizing it.

I don't think I or C have forgotten or minimize what happened, but I think that the changes we made to our lifestyle have become habit and we don't treat heart disease as a limiting factor in what I do. My health is much better than it was before Feb 13th, 2005, and as a result, I don't find that the disease limits what I can do myself or with my family at all. In day to day life, it's a non-issue. The only real reminder of my condition is the mitt-full of pills I take every morning and evening...

The important part of reflecting on the personal significance of this day though is remembering who and what is important in my life. I can't tell anyone how much a situation like this can ground you - crystallize your focus on those you love and who, in turn, love you too. C and the kids are the ones in my life who I love and cherish.

Sure, keeping healthy and strong for myself is important, but doing it so that I can enjoy being with my family is the real motivator. There's so much that I want to experience and share with them as we grow together - being a part of that is what makes me thankful for all I have in my family.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Little Coughs and little kisses


Ah... what could be more satisfying than snuggling with your little daughter because she can't get back to sleep.

I mean, I got woken up at 4:30 this morning by what sounded like a truck driver hacking away at his phlegm in the next room. I went in and there was lil' S sitting in her bed looking cute and pathetic with a sniffling nose and her body being racked by these huge coughs.

We got up, went to the bathroom, got a bit to drink and then headed back to bed - with a lot of whispering and repeated: "Are you sure it's not morning-time yet?".

She seemed quite pleased that I was going to help her get back to sleep.

I snuggled down beside her and she planted this little kiss on my cheek and then started poking my nose with her little finger.

I was thinking to myself that it couldn't get any better than this. Like, who cares that you got woken up from a deep, comfortable sleep? Who cares that it's as cold as !@#@ out there? Who cares that the sun doesn't come up until after 7:30 still?

Then, the truck driver let a hack go right into my face as she was examining my closed eyes...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Holy F*&k it's Cold!!!


Check out this article on CTV's site. For all of those who measure their temperature in Americanese, -30 degrees Celsius (that's including wind chill) is equivalent to about - 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let's just say the kiddies went out with every stitch of warm clothing that they own and were dropped off with multiple reminders of bundling up with all they're wearing (although they're not going to be let outside all day...

What was on last night? The Grammys? {Yawn} I'm going to bed...

Man, this writer's strike is certainly a boon for other forms of entertainment - like going to bed early. This was supposedly their 50th year - ya gotta wonder whether they'll be around in the next 50. Even with the show being the ONLY thing on (trust me, the only good thing competing with it was a re-run of Desperate Housewives and American Gladiator), they still had declining viewership.

You can't deny that, if you're involved in the music industry, a Grammy is certainly THE award to get, but I don't know if they're going to be able to evolve and be as relevant as they once were with the public viewers these days. The Grammy's are voted upon by folks in the industry - much like the Oscars and the Emmys - if you've won one of those, you're eligible to vote. So, yeah, getting an award from your peers is quite THE thing.

But, I think the industry has changed drastically from when the awards started back in '57. The public is no longer being "fed" their music. The Internet has enabled a more distributed "pull" structure to the music consumption market. Consumers are now able to quickly search, sample and purchase music from a variety of sources and even from the artists themselves - bypassing the traditional industry.

I'm sure there'll still be super-groups and superstars in the future (who generally feed the Grammy machine), but I'd hazard to bet that those acts won't enjoy the almost unanimous attention they could have gotten back in the '70's and '80's.

I guess for those artists and the people who follow them, the Grammys and award shows like them will be relevant, but I feel that there's a ground-swell of the public who will become more fickle and discerning about the music they purchase. Coupled with a growing comfort and ease of finding music that suits their immediate needs, I can see a bigger and bigger group of people seeing the Grammys as a non-event.

Friday, February 08, 2008

For those of you over 30

Something I got forwarded to me in the email:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious rantings about how hard things were when they were growing up... what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... uphill BOTH ways..YADDA, YADDA, YADDA.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU'VE GOT IT! I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, We had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, IN THE CARD CATALOG!! There was NO email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter ... WITH A PEN Then you had to walk all the way across the street And put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were NO MP3's & NO Napsters! You wanted to steal music, You had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio And the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! We DIDN'T have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called They got a busy signal, that's it! And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either!

When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, Your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games With high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "Asteroids" and the graphics sucked! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens; It was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting Harder and harder and faster and faster Until you died! Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater There no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you And you couldn't see, YOU WERE JUST SCREWED! Sure, we had cable television, But back then that was only like 15 channels And there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide To find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV To change the channel and There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I'M SAYING We HAD to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons!

AND We DIDN'T have microwaves, If we wanted to heat something up We had to use the stove. IMAGINE THAT! If we wanted popcorn, We had to use that stupid Jiffy Pop thing and shake it over the stove forever LIKE AN IDIOT!

You KIDS WOULD NEVER have lasted five minutes back in 1980's!

Regards,
The over 30 Crowd

Relaxing Weekends? Hah!


I find it kind of ironic that now we have kids, the weekends are no longer the part of the week we covet.

Is Saturday the new Monday for parents?

I'm not begrudging the kiddies at all, but I find it odd that I now look forward to Mondays as a time to "unwind" and get things done. Today (Friday) is going to be spent preparing for the weekend - cleaning the house and decorating the kitchen for the party tomorrow...

A peak into this weekend:

Saturday:

okay, a bit of sleeping in can be done - at least until 7:30 or 8:00 now that lil' C can manage the remote control.
8:00 - 9:00 - Breakfast chaos
10:30 - 12:00 - Swimming Lessons
1:00 - 5:00 - C & A's birthday party with extended fam
6:00 - ?? New Year's dinner.

Sunday:

8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast chaos
10:00 - 1:00 - some sort of outdoor activity
1:00 - 3:00 - C's birthday party with friends
3:00 - 5:00 - some sort of settle down / party review
5:00 - 6:00 - dinner
6:00 - ??? - shower time and settle down for bed...

It's a tad crazy - what's planned for Monday you ask? Well, I haven't really had time to think about that ... probably some work and tidying up some of the loose errands coming out of the weekend.

The interesting bit is that this is going to be our life until the kids leave home... then, it's their turn! Bwa ha ha ha!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Podcasts I live with

I got my iPod a couple years ago - it's the 60 Gb "classic" one (that's not it over there, just a pic from the Apple site - I don't think I'd have Nelly Furtado on it...). I've filled it up and then decided to cull some junk off my library. I'm always hovering around 59.x Gb of content on it.

I immediately got into PodCasts and have been following a few pretty religiously:
  • Diggnation
  • This Week in Tech (TWiT)
  • Project Studio Network
  • Inside Home Recording
  • NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
  • CBC's Radio 3 Podcast
  • Tiki Bar TV
  • CBC's Quirks and Quarks
  • Cranky Geeks
and more recently:
  • The Totally Rad Show
  • CBC's Definitely Not the Opera
  • MacBreak Weekly
  • and the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe
The last one (SGU) is a great - I just finished my first episode (1/30/2008) where they chat about a bunch of things from "is raw milk good or bad for you" or "the ABC drama that connects vaccines and autism", the merits (or rather not) of "facilitated communication in the court room". All stuff that definitely makes you think.

The hosts are definitely on the evolution side of the creationism debate and come at things from a very scientific and logical point of view. Definitely looking forward to hearing more.

When is it nap time?

Here's what I opened the door to this morning...

Yes, snow... and I got to shovel all of it after dropping the kids off at school.

Now that I'm done shoveling, I'm waiting for the snow plow to come by ... oh, yeah, I'm waiting with a sharp stick and a big rock I should say... ;)

C and I were lamenting last night about the choice we made to move here rather than Vancouver back in 2006.

Water under the bridge I guess... {sigh}

Facebook Frenzy

What the heck happened yesterday? I got contacted by four different people - out of the blue - to be friends on Facebook. It's great to reconnect and all, but what went on? I haven't had a friend request in a couple of weeks and then in one day - actually, within about two hours of each other - I get four requests.

Very weird...

Icky Thump

I broke down and finally bought/downloaded the latest White Stripes album. It's really growing on me quite fast. I was in one of those "I need some new music" moods last night and nothing was really grabbing me. The usual perusal through "People who bought this album also bought.." links wasn't really turning up anything and Icky Thump has sort of been in the back of my mind as one of those albums that I should probably give a fair shake to.

I'm weird in that I typically avoid buying music that's hyped up and has been on the front page of iTunes and most mass media. They seemed to be on every news cast last summer because of their tour through Canada.

I dunno what it is, I've gotten a bit jaded at putting music in my collection that came from the Billboard top XX. It seems a bit ... monotonous or something.

I was trying to get something that I'd (eventually) be able to work out to - fast-paced, gritty and with some "brains". A lot of the guitar-based hard-rock seems to be knock-offs of that pop-punk Blink 182 / Green Day style. The whole production sounds exactly the same for each record - gets to be quite boring - quickly.

Anyway, I'm liking what I hear so far - lots of great stuff. Sounds well produced, but not in a way that's too polished or forced.

Now back to my post waiting for the snow plow...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

still hate snow...

It's 9:30 PM and I just came in from taking out the garbage and the "green bin" to the curb.

There's frickin' 15 cm (that's roughly 6-7 inches for my American friends) of snow already on the ground and it's starting to freeze rain. I am NOT going to like this in the morning...

If you're going to volunteer...

... then make sure you're up for the responsibility of the job!

C came home and we were chatting about a certain group that she volunteered to be on. The group shall remain nameless, but let's say it's somehow associated with a public institution that our kids are (or for some, will be in the future) involved in on a week-daily basis.

She told me that she doesn't really enjoy being a part of this group as it doesn't really promote a positive atmosphere and it doesn't seem to . She gave me an example: a few of the other participants haven't been showing up to the meetings regularly and the "chair" started a motion to kick them off.

C apparently interjected and explained that it wasn't quite clear that attendance at EVERY meeting was mandatory. Furthermore, it wasn't her understanding that an absence would result in termination from the group.

The chair (and some others) apparently reluctantly agreed that there should be some communication put out there before taking action. Then, the chair goes off and says something to the effect of "well, I'm not really sure it should come from me as I'm not really a great communicator."

.... excuse me???

I know the person who she told me about and I don't doubt that this happened in a bit.

If you put up your hand to volunteer for a position in a group - especially one with some power, then GEEZ!, please step up or step down...

I hate snow...

It's disgusting!

This weather is what I remember hating in Ottawa. Sure, the snow looks nice right after it's fallen and everything is nice and white - beautiful, wonderful ... just great. But shoveling the crap and then the next day when it starts to melt and/or gets frozen solid - then the cars on the roads kick up the salt, sound and crud onto the banks. It all starts looking like some big animal puked all over the city.

On top of it, I broke our ergonomic shovel - couldn't handle the junk the plow left at the bottom of our drive... {sigh}

Ahhh.... to be on the west coast again. There, if you really want snow, you can drive to it. When it rains, at least you can still do all the stuff you usually do - you just get wet ... big deal. I'm listening to the KEXP feed from Seattle right now - getting some of that laid-back vibe infused.

Oh well, enough ranting.

The Photo Shoot

I don't know what I was expecting - I guess after Trav had done that interview with me back in Seattle with the whole pot-lights setup and such, I was expecting something like that for the photoshoot. :)

But Fernando showed up with his own digital camera and snapped about 40 pics in my studio last night. He sent them to me - there are definitely a couple of good ones that'll fit into the article. Also got a copy of the article he's submitted to his editor. Some nice writing. I'll post a link to the site when it goes up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Interview Questions

"Transcript" of Interview for Unchartered Sounds


Hey Dave,

I wanted to concentrate on article on you on the video gaming industry. I would love for you to enlighten our readers of how the music composition is so big in the video game medium...Can you please answer the following questions for me and then I would like come visit the studios for so I can shoot photos for this article if possible with you working with your equipment. I hoping you are in the GTA. Anyways, the questions goes as follows...

1. In a nutshell, how does composing music for video games differ from composing music for other mediums of media?
I have composed for film, TV and video games - a lot of it is the same - you've got to develop themes for characters/places, adapt music for different moods and situations, lock music to specific on-screen action, and be able to craft your music in a lot of different genres.

There are a couple of key elements that are different:

The first is sequencing and predictability, or rather I should say 'unpredictability'. Video games typically follow scripts in terms of what the player is to experience throughout the game, but it's more of a broad brush stroke script when compared to film/TV. On top of that, the pacing, sequencing and action are all unpredictable. With traditional media, you have frame-accurate, perfectly predictable picture to compose to - everything is locked and you compose a specific piece to fit.

In video games, you have no idea what the player is going to be doing at any specific point in time during the playing of the game. Of course, a lot of games make use of strictly scripted story elements where the player just watches and that's exactly like writing for other media.

What you'll see in video game scores is music that repeats in a loop - typically a long loop (2-5 minutes) so that the soundtrack doesn't get too monotonous for the player. The challenge comes in writing the music so that when a key point is reached that requires a shift in the music, (like when the player just went into the room with the level boss, starts to get attacked, etc...) new music or other elements can be introduced as seamlessly as possible. You don't know when this is going to happen in the piece. It's not like you can ask the player to wait to take that jump across a chasm on the downbeat of the next bar, so you have to make sure that your music can "react" to different unpredictable elements in a game either through cross-fades, inserting "stingers" or other transitional elements that will smooth out the transition from one music pace to another and provide a dynamic underscore to the gameplay.

The second big thing is technical limitations. Depending upon what platform the game is being developed for, you may be restricted to certain sound sets, polyphony and file size. It's not as bad as the early days of the original Nintendo systems, where you had only 3 voices, possibly a noise track for percussion and file sizes measured in kilobytes (100's if you were lucky), but even with more powerful machines, keeping the size of the total package to a manageable and efficient one is always a consideration for performance and memory space reasons.


2. What kind of background or If I can say resume do these types of composers have?

Composers for media come from all walks of life. There are working musicians, songwriters, classical composers, producers, engineers - you name it, there's someone with that background. I, for one, used to manage a team of technical project managers before I got into this full-time. Mind you, I had a long musical background before that, but for 10 years, music was not at all my bread and butter.

There are schools and such that are out there these days that focus on composing for media, but there's no real formal prerequisite course of study to get into this. Like composing for other media, it all comes down to what you've done and how well you've done it - getting into the community, doing a great job and getting experience the "old way" is just as credible as any other path - there's no "preferred" way to get into this industry. A suggestion for up and coming composers is to do your research on the tools and techniques - try things out, get to know how to work efficiently in your studio. Hook up with some young, up and coming producers and cut your teeth on some pro-bono work - get a feel for interacting with the community.

It is possible to specialize in one specific genre of music and be successful, but you're typically going to want to be able to offer the ability to write and produce music in a wide variety of styles. Having a healthy appetite for diverse styles of music definitely helps - understanding and being fluent in those styles will go a long way. One thing I have to say here is that you'll be surprised at what you can compose - never turn down an opportunity to score something that's out of your comfort zone.

Lastly, I find that less than fifty percent of my time is spent actually writing music - I wear a lot of different hats throughout the day. Some of them are music-related: arranger, orchestrator, producer, engineer, etc. and some of them are business related: marketing, technical support, client management, contract negotiation, billing... You've got to be prepared to handle all aspects of your career. As budgets get leaner for the vast majority of music in media, a lot of composers don't really have the luxury of delegating many, if any, tasks that need to be done in a composing career. The more you can handle yourself (arranging, recording, orchestrating, sound engineering, mastering, etc.) the better.

You're running a business and need to remember that although you are an artist, you are first and foremost working for someone else. Pleasing the customer will keep you working. Getting "cred" in this industry doesn't come from formal training, it comes from doing a great job for your customers and building your credit list.

3. Why is it difficult to be composing music for this type of medium or why is it a hard field to break into?

It's definitely a sexy industry to break into, but the difficulty comes down to one thing: competition. Compared to the number of titles coming out of film-makers and videographers out there, you've got a hand-full of potential video game titles being developed all being sought after by virtually the same pool of composers.

Yes, there are composers who specialize in video-game music and ones that specialize in film/TV, but there are so many similarities between the composing methods, that you've got a significant overlap in the two "camps".

There's no one place to go and drop off your resume, it's all a relationship-based industry. You've got to be able to get out and meet people in the industry, make those contacts and develop them. The reality is that there are a few number of video game developers probably getting a pile of demo-discs each day. It's not impossible to break into, but it takes a lot of time and effort.

Music is a commodity in all these industries. For all the work you put into a piece, there are probably dozens of other composers out there who could mimic your work and undercut your price at the same time. Unless you make those person-to-person contacts and develop those relationships, you're not going to be differentiated from the rest of the "pack".


4. Are composers getting a lot more attention in this industry?

They definitely are! Composing music for video games has come a long way since Koji Kondo wrote the Mario themes for the original Nintendo systems. Composers for games aren't getting the same attention as film/TV composers, but they're definitely coming into the spotlight - look at "Video Games Live" (http://www.videogameslive.com/): a live orchestral multi-media tour headlining music for video games.

Music is definitely getting bigger and bigger slices of the budget on video games. Since the days of Hitman, live orchestra recordings are becoming more and more common. They're not as popular as they are in Japan, but stand-alone video game soundtracks are now starting to be in demand in North America. The music is not just an afterthought to video games these days - as the games' stories are becoming more involved and immersive, they're requiring a vehicle in which to better communicate and suggest emotion like TV and film - that's where music becomes integral to the gameplay.


5. Can you explain the process of how a composer makes music for a video game?

It's very similar to film and TV. However, with video game development, the composer usually comes into play earlier on in the process. For film and TV, composing music is one of the last creative steps in the process. In video game production, the composer is usually brought in somewhere between the end of the design and middle of development process.

There's coding and development work that has to be incorporated in the game to handle music, so unlike film and TV, you won't get a "locked edit" to work with - you're expected to be able to go with the flow of inevitable changes that are all part of the software development cycle.

The process is much more iterative than other media. You're brought in with the producer to "spot" the game - either to storyboards, demo proofs of concept, or partially developed segments of the game. You're given a copy of the storyboard or script and you work with the producer to determine where and what kind of music happens where and when in the game. You then develop themes, place them to different emotional settings, genres, tempos, etc. and review with the producer. Upon acceptance of basic themes and directions, you then go through the software testing, development and acceptance process. The producer of the video game may have qualitative or quantitative/technical direction for each iteration. Depending on the complexity of the game development this may take a few or a lot of iterations. In the end, you're a part of the development team and need to pull your weight to meet schedule dependencies.


6. How long can it take to make a score for one video game?

It can take a matter of weeks to months. A few big variables come into play: the amount of music required (some video games like Elder Scrolls have over 1.5 hours of music), the complexity of the music / video game interaction, the experience of the producer / development team and the overall development schedule.


7. What are some of the best compositions you have heard for a video game?

Oh wow, I think the first one that blew me away was the original Myst - the gameplay itself was unique in its' time, but there was also an obvious focus on music and sound in the game that enhanced the play. Some of the other titles I've played and have noticed the music have been Hitman, Medal of Honor, StarCraft, Half Life, oh, the list can go on...

It's funny that now recently, music has come to be the central part of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Although the experience of playing the controllers that come with those games is not like the real thing, they're a heck of a lot of fun to play and do promote a few musical skills such as active listening and rhythm.


8. Is it necessary to have an expensive studio to compose music for the video game genre or is there a quota that is to be achieved to do this.

No, not at all! The technical barriers to starting to produce music have come WAY down in the past years. There's still a gap in quality with what you can produce in your bedroom versus in a professional setup, but that's getting smaller every day.

You can do some really decent stuff with just a laptop, a two octave keyboard and some headphones these days. There are a number of bundled or even free/open-source tools out there that can be used to get started and/or even produce great finished results! If you've got a new Mac, you've got GarageBand with a whole slew of loops and instruments to use. On the PC, you've got apps like Reaper and the like that are VERY cheap and packed with a lot of functionality. These'll definitely get you off the ground and running with a basic setup.

Of course, having the tools and knowing how to use them are two different things, but again, there are a TON of free and inexpensive resources (Podcasts, Forums, User Groups, tutorials, books, etc.) out there to help you get acquainted with and get around the ropes.

Tuesday, schmoosday...

What is it about Tuesday?

Everyone is so down on Mondays, but what is it about Tuesday that makes it seem like a non-starter day? Maybe it's the schedule these days - it's a bit gloomy out there, the kids have skating at 10:30 and there are errands to be done. Seems like the day is all chopped up...

I guess there's some solace in that I'll be able to cross things off the list that C left... ;)

Big 5-Year Old


A turned 5 today. Gee, that kid is full of so much energy - wears his emotions on his sleeve. I commented to C last night that he's got to be the best gift-receiver around. He is TOTALLY enthusiastic in opening gifts, but also has the most over-the-top expressions for when he sees what's under the wrapping.

I can just feel sorry for the teachers at his school - they're probably going to be hearing that it's his birthday all day...

The Photo Shoot (da, da, daaaa....)

I'm going to get my photos done in my studio this evening. I got called by a writer for an online publication, "UncharteredSounds" to do an interview about composing music for video games. I told him that I've only really done one title, but could still do it if he wanted - which he did. I got a few questions emailed to me and, it seems as though those went over alright, so now, it's photo-shoot time!

So, here we go - apparently, he's coming over after 7:30 tonight to do the deed. I'll be posting a link when that goes up.

Now, it's time to go to skating lessons - and, probably the court house to schedule the dreaded trial date... {sigh}

Monday, February 04, 2008

Back into it ... Maybe

Well, here we go again.

I was religiously blogging before, but then stopped for some reason - dunno what happened... Hopefully this'll go on. I was reading some of my older posts - it's a hoot to read all that stuff again!

It's C's 8th birthday today! Man, he's such an awesome little guy. I guess, his day started yesterday when we let him stay up to watch the Super Bowl. He and mom were cheering for the Patriots, but I was going for the Giants - dunno, just like going for the underdog. C wasn't too happy about the result of the game. :)

He got a new Webkinz dog (a bulldog - we'll see what he eventually names it...) and will probably be spending the lunch hour configuring the new profile on the website. He also got a couple of books - Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman - both things he's been quite interested in the past few months. He and A got a "powerful telescope". I have NO idea where the need for that came from!

Once today is over, then it's A's turn!

Got a frickin' ticket on the weekend! The morning after the snowstorm, I was driving C and S back from swiming lessons. I'd just gotten some gas at this station up Yonge and was turning right at an intersection, looking out for any crazy drivers in the snow and got pulled over a kilometer down the road for apparently making an "illegal right on a red" - apparently there are signs there. I do not have any idea why there would be - it's not a blind corner and there weren't really any cars coming at all...

I'm going to be calling up today to contest the ticket and also going back there to look around. I did NOT see any signs...

God, the Toronto police department has WAY too much of a budget here with their parking meter maids - seemingly one for every block and then these ambush cops for insignificant and frivolous infractions.... grrrr....