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Scoring Game Footage

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I've mentioned this in the Unofficial GameDev Music Project thread, but I want to post a separate thread to see if anyone had any knowledge on the subject. I want to score some game footage and replace all the music/sfx with my own creations(I would just capture gameplay from my TV). I just want to use this video for demo reel purposes. Before I go through all the trouble of doing it though, is it legal? Or legal enough at least? :-) Also, do you think this is something potential employers would be interested in seeing? Or do you think someone would look at something like that and just think to themselves "Well why haven't they done any work on actual games?" -- Jonathan

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You will get answers all over the spectrum on this question. I have heard that some employers like to see this kind of work on existing game footage, and that others do not.

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As long as you slap a disclaimer like "For Demo Purposes only" then I've never heard of it being a problem. I very much like to see videos that have been rescored to showcase your work. When I get demos I definitely go through the ones with any multimedia aspects of it before I listen to "just the music."

In fact, I've lost track of the podcast (the old link doesn't seem to work), but Music4Games held a panel discussion at Mutek this year which included Simon Pressey (Technical & Artistic Director Audio, Ubisoft) Noémie Dupuy (Associate, Wave Generation) Jesper Kyd (Artist / Composer) Steven Sim (Senior Sound Designer / Audio Technician, BioWare) Philippa Klein (Co-founder, Ninja Tune) and they all loved the idea of getting music demos set to visuals. In fact, they all mentioned how they were particularly fond of when people would take their games specifically and rescore them. They even admitted to occasionally discovering these demo compositions were actually better than what ultimately went in the game.

There is something to be said about listening to music with eyes closed and "seeing" what imagery it invokes, but most of the time they're looking for something that complements their already planned and/or completed visuals.

Know what you should try as well? Record the vid but with ONLY the SFX and video playback. That way when you write you can either mix to blend (which is important and often overlooked) or pick appropriate places to punctuate within the sound design.

Lots of possibilities!

Tony

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Thanks for the replies and suggestions(Tony). I think I will go ahead and capture and score some footage. I'll let you know when I get somehing finished.

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You will definitely find a variety of opinions about this. I stopped giving out video demos a few years ago. I found that most of my clients are very visually oriented. As a result, they often focused on the images and if the scene was well-scored, they almost didn't notice the music. They were paying too much attention to the edits, graphics, acting, color correction, transfer quality, or some other element.

The way a scene or gameplay sequence is scored is also a subjective matter. Because I view this as a service industry, I'd rather hear how a client wants a sequence to feel than just throw up a sequence and say, "Here's how I would score it." My initial idea of how a sequence should be scored may not fit with a client's overall vision for a project. I could easily turn a client off by just shooting in the dark and assuming I can read his or her mind. That approach has never yielded the best creative results in my experience.

The other issue is that video reels sometimes don't even get watched. Audio CDs can be listened in a car or on the stereo in the background while doing some other work. People are also getting pretty comfortable with MP3s these days as well. DVDs need either a DVD player or a computer handy, as well as someone's full visual attention to view. If you're not giving a DVD, then you have to be sure that people can actually play back the video file on their computer. I have personally tossed a number of .avi files aside because I just didn't have the proper codec and couldn't be bothered to find and download it. Also, if someone really likes the audio, they may be inclined to carry it around and listen to it several times, or share it with others. That's much more difficult to do with a DVD or video file.

I typically only give audio demos when requested. I don't even maintain a video reel anymore. I know that other people in the field have encouraged video, but in almost ten years, I've never seen an actual decision to hire a composer be based on a video sample. If you are a film editor, animator, etc., then video makes sense. But for audio, I'm just not convinced that most people really want video. In my experience, most of the worthwhile projects are perfectly happy with an audio CD or alteratively an MP3.

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