Music meets Games: Jeff Broadbent im Interview


Stellt euch vor, ihr wandert durch schneeverhangene Dünen, Schritt für Schritt, ein beissender Winterwind schlägt euch in’s Gesicht – doch ihr hört nichts. Keinen knirschenden Schnee unter den Füßen, keinen jaulenden Wind im Ohr. Und dann greift euch ein Oger von der Seite an, keine Kampfgeräusche, kein Klingenwetzen. So oder so stellen wir uns zumindest ein Videospiel ohne Sound und Musik vor – es fehlt einfach was, das gewisse Audio-Feedback. Deshalb ist dieser Artikel einer von unseren Music meets Games Special Days, wo wir zeigen wollen, dass Musik uns überall berührt – und sich das trotz technologischen Wandels nicht ändert.

Auch Jeff Broadbent kann ein Lied davon siegen, oder besser gesagt er komponiert diese. Der Soundtrack von Videospielen ist sein Beruf.

Aktuell kann in Champions of Anteria Jeff Broadbents Musik erlebt werden, das August 2016 erschienen ist. ©Ubisoft

Aktuell kann in Champions of Anteria Jeff Broadbents Musik erlebt werden, das August 2016 erschienen ist. ©Ubisoft

Er verlieh nicht nur Spielen wie Monster Hunter von Capcom oder Planetside 2 von Sony die passende musikalische Untermalung, wofür er übrigens den ein oder anderen Award abstaubte, sondern Broadbent verpasste auch dem neusten RTS und RPG-Hybriden Champions of Anteria von Ubisoft den richtigen Score. Der am 30. August 2016 erschienene Siedler-Ableger bringt einen erst so richtig in Strategie-Stimmung dank der Spielmusik. Doch wie ist es eigentlich, als Komponist an der Schnitstelle von audio und visuell zu arbeiten? Zusammen mit haben wir uns mit Jeff Broadbent unterhalten, um dieser Frage auf den Grund zu gehen. Zur Erhaltung der fachlichen Kompetenz ist dieses Interview in Original-Sprache Englisch wiedergegeben.

Hey Jeff, first of all: great score for Champions of Anteria! Thank you for taking the time to reply to our questions.

Jeff Broadbent: Thanks very much! I’m happy to talk about music with you.

Since you composed over 3 hours of music, how did you schedule the composing process over the years the game was in development?

Jeff Broadbent: I started composing the music for the game in 2014, working on the main theme and in-game music first. Later, towards the end of the game development in early 2016, I composed music for the cut scenes and trailers.

The bulk of the music score was the in-game music which included music for out-of-combat/exploration aspects of the game, and in-combat/battle sections of the game. Each music track has several instrumental layers to represent each champion (for example, choirs are used for the monk Anslem, brass is used for the knight Vargus, and various wind instruments are used for the desert archer Nusala). In addition, each music track has a “low-health” layer, which features dissonant strings and choir which plays when the player is low on health, as a warning signal.

The in-game music was composed over a fairly intense period, in which I was writing a large amount of music each day. I liked to begin by composing the more peaceful out-of-combat music first, and then I would compose the layers that were used for combat/battle and low health.

After the music was composed and approved, we proceeded to prepare for the live recordings, after which the final music was mixed and implemented into the game.

In the recent extensive Ubisoft Interview with you and Ubisoft Blue Bytes‘ Audio Director Stefan Randelshofer, you don’t speak about your collaboration with German music production company Dynamedion. Would you mind elaborating on how you shared the workflow?

Jeff Broadbent: In the Ubisoft interview Stefan and I primarily discuss the Champion-based music system, which involves different musical layers being assigned to each champion so that depending on which champions are in the player’s group, different aspects of the music score play. This aspect of the game’s score was among my responsibilities.

The composing workflow was basically separated, in that Dynamedion scored the start-up phases of the game (and handled the live recordings), and I focused on the main theme, in-combat, out-of-combat, cut scene, and trailer music. I did collaborate with Dynamedion regarding preparation of the music for the live recordings (orchestration/sheet music preparation) and after the recordings we interfaced with some of the post-mixing aspects of the score.

How did you and Stefan meet? Was it around the time your worked on the music for Assassin’s Creed Identity or Tom Clancy’s End War?

Jeff Broadbent: Stefan and I actually met before Assassin’s Creed Identity, and I worked with a different Ubisoft studio (Ubisoft Shanghai) for Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online. Towards the end of 2013 I was contacted by Ubisoft Blue Byte and was asked to participate in auditions for Champions of Anteria. Based on the demo music I composed I was selected as a composer for the game.

Shortly thereafter I was introduced to audio director Stefan, and we’ve had a great time working together since!

You mention in the same interview that the out-of-combat cues are some of your favourites. Where can we find them on the official soundtrack release? Do some of these have a specific story behind them in terms of the creative process?

Jeff Broadbent: I actually created specific mixes for the soundtrack album so the tracks off the album generally contain a mixture of both the in-combat and out-of-combat music cues. Some of the soundtracks that have more prominent out-of-combat sections include So That Was The Welcome They Had, Oh and More Bandits and Far From Lifeless.

Far From Lifeless accompanies the desert regions and Dune Queen areas of the game so it contains Middle-Eastern instruments such as duduk and qanun, as well as Middle-Eastern-inspired scales and harmonies. Other tracks, like Oh and More Bandits play in forested regions, so this music focuses on lush string arrangements and breathy wind instruments.

In creating these out-of-combat cues, I wanted to focus on peaceful and emotionally moving music that represents the wonder and expansive aspect of nature. There are moments in the cues where the music is more ambient and tranquil as well as sections featuring melodic statements by solo instruments such as French horn, flute and oboe.

Above all I wanted to impart a sense of fantasy, mystery and to highlight the natural features of the wilderness.

Do you have any tips for young composers who are trying to break into the video games world? What were the key elements of your career so far?

Jeff Broadbent: I would offer several points of advice regarding breaking into music composing – the first is to learn as much as possible about music composing. I learned a great deal about music through private lessons and university as well as personal study; the benefit of education cannot be overlooked. Getting your hands on film score manuscripts and studying them as well as listening to a lot of current score music, is also beneficial.

Learning the technology is also critical. Having the best equipment you can obtain, developing solid mixing skills and learning to use music technology (DAW, plugins, software) is vital. Production skills like these are incredibly important. Many projects may not have a budget for live music (or a limited budget) and as such, being able to produce great-sounding music in your studio is necessary.

From a business standpoint, networking, meeting people that hire composers, marketing oneself and having excellent demo material are all very important.

Shortly after finishing university I read many books on running a freelance business and this gave me a foundation to understand what I needed to do in order to build up my own composing business. Networking via conferences (such as the Game Developers Conference), company inquiries, social media are all part of the recipe for marketing yourself and working on projects. Understand that just as much effort and thought needs to be put into business development practices like these as the music production itself.

There’s a phrase I like: “the right music, presented to the right people, at the right time”.

You need to make sure you have the “right music” for whichever projects you are aiming for, you need to build relationships with and present your music to the “right people” and if possible, do so at the “right time” (for example, when they are looking for new music).

Having an overall plan of where you would like your career to go and what kinds of projects you would like to work on is helpful. Just as a business needs a vision and long-term goals, likewise the freelance composer needs a similar focus, and then put into motion the daily actions needed to achieve these goals.

© Jeff Broadbent

© Jeff Broadbent

Thank you for the Interview!


Was Entwickler und Sounddesigner aus der Videospielbranche unter sich ausdiskutieren, das hat motherbot für euch beim Subotron Panel zum Waves Vienna 2016 ausgespäht und hier für euch festgehalten.