Difference between revisions of "Talk:Frank Klepacki"

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Latest revision as of 16:15, 23 December 2019

MAGFest 2019 Rough Notes

Started as a playtester for Westwood Studios over the summer break before his senior year in high school.

Was a drummer since he was 11. Learned to play guitar then keyboard. Used a four-track recorder to record his music. and composed music. Made a demo tape gave it to producer at Westwood. Asking to intern, but got hired when he was 17.

First game was DragonStrike (NES).

Liked playing Commander & Conquer (DOS) in the office. Played over the company intercom system.

Was encouraged to experiment with the soundtrack of C&C which is why the first soundtrack was so diverse. But, by the time of Command & Conquer: Red Alert (DOS), it became more refined to metal and industrial. Very passionate about the songs and poured his heart into them, but never expected them to be so popular.

After Westwood, went to Petroglyph as the sound producer who had to do music, sound effects, and voice over. Worked freelance between the two companies.

Loved Ben Burt from Star Wars for sound effects and eventually got to work on a Star Wars game. Created sound effect for a whip light saber.

Was a voice actor at Westwood. Most voices in C&C were employees. Frank was the commando. Also voice of House Harkkonen.

Q: How do I get good at voice acting?
A: To get good at voice acting, try to imitate everything. Also, exaggerated since they cant see you. Directing is also interesting because you need to pull everything out of your voice actors.

Biggest influences for C&C: Vince DiCola, Nine Inch Nails, Dr. Dre, Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Apocalypse Now soundtrack, Top Gun soundtrack. For Red Alert, more industrial and synthesizer bands to mix with rock.

Original setup for composing video game music was a 486, AdLib, Roland MIDI breakout box, Radio Shack speakers. Used AdLib Visual Composer. Didn't use keyboard, hand-entered notes. Tried Cakewalk, but didn't like the feel. Used GEMS for Genesis. Used Dr. T's music to make NES music. After that, switched to Cubase, and has used it ever since.

In the early days, AAA games didn't have to be a hit, they just needed to sell. Quality control doesn't really exist anymore. Most important for indie development is how to stand out.

For Blade Runner (W32), they had the rights to use the movie score, but not the recordings. So, he had to recreate Vangelis's songs by ear! He spent weeks doing it and really gained a new appreciation for Vangelis. The office joked that his version actually sounded cleaner because it was recorded on digital equipment.

John Williams was his first musical impact due to the introduction in Star Wars.

Q: Which soundtrack was the most challenging?
A: Blade Runner was very challenging. Star Wars: Empire At War (W32) was difficult too because he wanted to write to the fans properly, being such a fan himself. His goal was not to stand out, but to make his music fit in.

Q: How do you get a feel for a game?
A: He prefers when they have a playable beta, but it doesn't always happen. As a gamer himself, it helps because he knows what to expect.

When composing for modern gaming, he writes the basic backdrop, but adds melodies as events occur in the game.

Q: What was it like Emperor Battle For Dune (W32)?
A: Wanted to carry the Dune 2000 (W32) soundtrack forward. Worked with two other composers. He did house Atretis, while the others did Harkkonen and Ordos. Gave the game more personality.

Q: Any advice for aspiring composers?
A: Create a demo. If no credits, show how you would have composed an existing game. Create audio that is at least as good quality-wise with the existing music. Also try to meet directors and producers, not necessarily composers.

Q: For the song Urey's Revenge in C&C, why the quote in the song?
A: Wanted a sci-fi b-movie feel, used a library of sound samples. Turned out to be from an old movie, but it was not intentional.

Q: How did you get guitar with synth hardware?
A: Sometimes writes with a guitar, sometimes starts with an interesting sounding riff on a keyboard. Likes a hard sawwave combined with a guitar. Used it in a lot of his songs.

Always did moonlighting in bands his whole career. Has been in several bands and composes on his own time, making music is his passion. If you won as nod, the tune is one of his band's non-video game tracks that Westwood licensed. Bounces between metal and funk. One was called "home cooking". One favorite band is Sly and the Family Stone. Wrote a fan letter to Jerry and has been friends with him ever since. 2008, was requested to play drums for Jerry.

Q: Which games was the hardest to compose for thematically?
A: Probably End of Nations (W32). 4 years in development, won awards, massive online RTS, but never got released. He worked really hard on it to give each faction its own theme. Even had an live orchestra, but it was shelved. Some audio got leaked, which he loved.

Q: What's the deal with the C&C song "Bang?"
A: I was listening to Dr Dre's "Chronic".

Very much looking forward to Command and Conquer remake, even more than Red Alert.

Q: Favorite game soundtrack?
A: Alex Brandon's Unreal Tournament (W32).

Q: Any song that you composed for a game that wasn't in the game it was released?
A: "Stomp" was for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (W32), but was actually used in Command & Conquer: Renegade (W32). Also was C&C 80's Mix was rejected for original game but was included in the files. Later to be added in Renegade.

Q: In the song "Smash," how did you get the sound?
A: I found vocoded percussive loops and made a synth song which should have been a rock song.

He sometimes like going back to use 1990s style limitations, but doesn't like being limited in general.

For Lion King games, had access to the demo soundtrack with alternate vocals and an early version of the film. Had Jeff Rona from Hans Zimmer's company come over to check the quality. He had to teach him why the 16-bit SNES couldn't produce the same fidelity as the film's score! After that, Rona Said everything was fine, but wanted him to switch an instrument to bassoon.

Designer of The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge (DOS) wanted the soundtrack to be more funky.

Red Alert 2 had to be changed for 9/11. The cover originally had a plane flying next to the World Trade Center.