Beowulf:  The Game Available at Amazon.com

 

 

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November 2007
 

 

Composers Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad, Beowulf?

 


SASCHA DIKICIYAN

Born in Stuttgart, Germany

Started piano first but switched at drums at age 12.

Studied at Musicians Institute (Hollywood)

Studied at UCLA (film scoring and orchestration)

Independently produced
and released "Methods of Destruction," the first-ever audio add-on for the
original Quake

In the summer of 2003,  began producing dance music under the name Toksin

Official Website


Composition Credits (VG)

 John Woo's Stranglehold
 Hellgate: London
TMNT
God of War 2
Dark Messiah
Spyhunter feat. The Rock
Battlezone PSP
Stuntman 2
Splinter Cell 4: Double Agent
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Quake 2
Quake 3 Arena
Quake 3 Team Arena
James Bond Tomorrow
never dies
Terminator: Rise of the Machines

Awards

“Noize Loops" (Sampler CD)  won a Future Music
Platinum Award.

Won BPM Magazine’s
Remix contest

 

 

CRIS VELASCO

Graduate of the UCLA
School of Music with a degree in Music Composition.

First major game score was for Battlestar Galactica (2003)

Orchestrated a number of Disney animated films before moving to video games.

Joined with Sascha Dikiciyan in 2005.

Official Website


Composition Credits (VG)

Jericho (2007)
T.M.N.T. (2007)
Battle Zone (2006)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent (2006)
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (2006)
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)
Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run (2006)
Terminator 3: Redemption (2004)
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
Gunman Chronicles (2000)

Composition Credits (TV)

Monday Night Football Theme
Toyota (Commercial)
Disney (Commercial)
Staples (Commercial)
Mattel (Commercial)

Awards

AIAS Interactive Achievement Award 2005: Winner, “Outstanding
Music Composition”

GameSpot 2005: Winner, “Best Original Music Award”

GameZone 2005: Winner, “Best Original Score of the Year”

IGN 2005: Winner,
“Best Original Score Award”

GANG Awards 2005:
Winner, “Music of the Year,” “Audio Score,” and “Best Cinematic Audio”

GANG Award 2003: Winner, “Rookie of the Year”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"We had to pull all of the turtles out of our studio this time and instead pour buckets of blood on the walls!"

Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco


The Interview

Just prior to the release of the BEOWULF the film and the Ubisoft video game tie-in, Tracksounds was able to fire off a few questions to one of the most prolific scoring duos of the game world.  Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco talk about their work on BEOWULF: THE GAME, influence from Alan Silvestri's score, recording at Skywalker Sound, meeting George Lucas, and their careers beyond the genre of game music.

 

Listen to tracks from BEOWULF: THE GAME by Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco

CC: It looks like Ubisoft has pulled out all the stops for this score.  Has this game-project been the "biggest" in terms of budget, scope, and detail either or both of you have been a part of?

Cris Velasco: I wouldn’t really say that this has been the biggest project for either of us necessarily. We did have a lot of fun writing the score though. It also marked the first time that we were able to record at Skywalker Sound, which was amazing.

Sascha Dikiciyan: The challenge was to create a very large, heavy sounding score. Ubisoft wanted to really take it to the next level in terms of size and quality. I’d say it was a big challenge to make every cue count and be as epic as possible within our budget.

CC: I've been privileged enough to attend a sound-mixing session in the Kurosawa room and the environment of the premises as a whole is so peaceful, yet awe inspiring.  Describe your experience in recording your score at "the ranch" - Skywalker Sound.
 
Cris & Sascha: What’s great about that room is that it was actually built as a recording studio. It’s not a converted sound stage like a lot of the other studios and the acoustics are simply amazing. Skywalker Sound is really just one small part of the whole ranch too. The property is located in this beautiful location where you can really unwind and feel truly removed from civilization. This allows us to concentrate on making the music sound amazing without any distractions. Our whole team stayed at the Skywalker Inn also. It’s located right on the ranch about a mile from the studio.

CC: Skywalker Sound was also involved in the film, BEOWULF, as well.  What resources were shared for the game and/or score?

Cris & Sascha: We’re not sure what resources were shared between the studio and Ubisoft. However, as far as our job was concerned, none of the music assets were used.
 
CC: While you were at "the ranch," did you bump into anyone famous or get a sneak peek at some super-confidential, upcoming games, or tv-shows, or films?  (*cough* Force Unleashed....Clone Wars..*cough*)

Cris & Sascha: We didn’t get a sneak peek at anything while we were there. Skywalker isn’t really laid out in any kind of way where we might “accidentally” see anything. LucasArts also isn’t located there. However, we were back at Skywalker again two weeks after recording BEOWULFto record HAZE for Ubisoft as well. And that time we did actually get to meet GEORGE LUCAS! He was very cool but unfortunately too busy to make it to the recording session the next day.

 
CC: Does your score for BEOWULF: THE GAME tie in with ALAN SILVESTRI's score for the film?

Cris Velasco: Not at all. The game and the film were being produced at the same time and there simply wasn’t enough time to incorporate any of Silvestri’s music. Also, they really are meant to be two unique experiences. The movie score may have been inappropriate for the game.


CC: How does writing a score for a game-tie-in to a feature film that has a name like ALAN SILVESTRI attached to it effect you?  Do you just block it out of your mind, let it creatively fuel you or what exactly?

Cris & Sascha: Honestly, we don’t even really think about it. We both admire Alan’s work and so thought, “Cool, can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for this.” But really we just do the best job we can and make sure that the score serves the game. BEOWULF did offer us a great chance to be very cinematic with some of the writing so it’ll be interesting to see how the two scores compare.


CC: You both are gamers.  Have or will you get to play the game, complete with your score, before its official release?  If so, how did you feel about the game play?

 
Cris & Sascha: We very rarely get a chance to actually play through the game before its release. BEOWULF was no different. We had to wait just like everyone else to play the game on its release date.

CC: How was this experience different from your experience in writing the score for the game tie-in of the recent film TMNT

Cris & Sascha: We had to pull all of the turtles out of our studio this time and instead pour buckets of blood on the walls! Seriously though, they’re two completely different experiences. The fact that they are both movie titles doesn’t seem to really affect how we work. That has no bearing on our score. The TMNT score was probably a bit more “light-hearted” action. That music needed to convey a sense of fun. Beowulf is obviously a much darker story and the music needed to reflect that. The game also follows the course of Beowulf’s life, from arrogant barbarian to wise ruler. Our score mimics this timeline in a subtle but effective way. In the beginning of the game the music is mostly percussion with a bit of low strings and male choir. By the end of the game, the score is more “Hollywood” sounding with a now full orchestra and mixed choir.

Beowulf drops in on Cris and Sascha's session.

Beowulf drops in on Cris and Sascha's session.
These CG characters are getting a little too real.


I understand that there is no official soundtrack release planned for BEOWULF:  THE GAME.  Obviously your focus is writing music for a game, but I'm sure, when you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into a project, you at least hope to see if made available in as many ways as possible.  Do you have any conflicting feelings about this in general or are you fine with it whether a soundtrack is released or not?

Cris & Sascha: We absolutely would like to see a soundtrack release for every title we score. With the accessibility of iTunes there’s really no excuse not to. We’re actually trying very hard right now to make a lot of our past titles available on iTunes. As the demand for game soundtracks grows bigger I think we’ll see these releases happening more and more often. Luckily though, we have been fortunate to have some soundtracks that are available. Hellgate: London, Clive Barker’s Jericho, Dark Messiah, and God of War 2 have all had CD releases. We are confident that we can somehow get Beowulf out there too.

CC: Do you receive many requests for your music from fans and do you think fan outcry (ie. petitions) make much difference in getting scores released?

Cris Velasco: I personally get daily emails from fans asking, “Where can I get the music to…” and I know that Sascha does as well. I don’t know if those online petitions actually work or not. However, they certainly can’t hurt. It’s a real honor to have so many people that want to hear our music outside of the game. If it were up to me everything would be readily available.

CC: How many times have you two collaborated for a game score now?

Cris Velasco: In the two and a half years that we’ve been working together, Sascha and I have scored about 15 games. We’ve been extremely busy!

Sascha Dikiciyan: Yeah it’s been quite a ride! We have been working non-stop ever since.

 
CC: How did you two first come to collaborate.

Sascha Dikiciyan: Well, in 2005 I was looking for a writing partner to help me on a project. So I basically put an ‘ad’ out on some message boards where I knew a lot of talent was posting on. I had quite a few submissions but Cris’ work stood out and after we realized that we both have the same agent, we decided to have a meeting. After that particular project was done, we just saw the potential and worked on almost every title from there on together. Each of us brings something unique to the table and now after almost 2 and half years, everyone knows their part really well and we can work really fast!

CC: How do each of you feel about collaborating versus writing scores on your own?

Cris Velasco: It’s just a completely different process. Personally, I have more fun on a project where we collaborate. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas back and forth and to always have that extra set of ears. We do each have our own solo projects as well though. I try to use these as a growing process almost. Since I’m left to my own devices on these I can’t fall back on anything that Sascha might have brought to the arrangement. This sometimes forces me to think outside the box in some ways and to push myself as a composer. Then when we work together again I feel that I’m maybe just “that much” better as an orchestral composer and have some new tricks to incorporate into our score.

Sascha Dikiciyan: Well, it’s great but also a challenge at times. Sometimes it’s not easy convincing the other person on an idea but in the end I think it really helps that we are sort of pushing each other to be better writers. Working on my own is harder in particular because I do like to get feedback on a cue I’m not sure of. However I do produce music on my own under the name Toksin where I have worked on remixes for artists like Destiny’s Child, Deepsky and others.


CC: Both of you are well established now as video game score composers and of course that industry is booming.   Do you have hopes and plans to move into tv and film as well or are you happy to stay in this genre?  (BTW, Cris, on your site you have options for "Film" "Television" and "Commercials" but they are not currently active.  What's going on there?)

Cris Velasco: I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going for us at the moment. As you said, the game industry is booming and we’re in a great position right now. However, we would like to pursue film and television if the right opportunity presented itself. Even when this happens though, we’ll still be scoring games. In regards to my website, just stay tuned as I’m about to launch with a brand new, updated, and fully working site.

Sascha Dikiciyan: I agree. While I would love the challenge of writing for movies, I think there’s still a lot of growth to be done in our industry. So no matter what happens, we will always (hopefully) be scoring games. It’s our true passion!

CC: All the best to you both and thanks for taking the time for this interview!

Cris & Sascha: Thanks for the interview! I’m sure we’ll catch up with you again soon. We’ve got some huge titles being released shortly and some new projects that are currently underway.



*Special Thanks to Greg O'Connor-Read (Top Dollar PR)

 


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