Published on December 18th, 2015 | by gareth0
We Talk The Sounds And Music Of EA Star Wars Battlefront With John Rodd
Recently I spoke with John Rodd about his work on EA Star Wars Battlefront as well as his work in the industry as being involved with numerous games and productions.
Tell us how you got into the industry and what was your big break?
I have been a music recording, mixing and mastering engineer for almost three decades, so when I began working on video game scores, they did not exist in the way we know them now.
I have been fortunate enough to work on many AAA games over the years, so it is hard to tell what exact title was my big break. I will say that mixing and mastering three of Jesper Kyd’s scores – – Assassin’s Creed II  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood  Assassin’s Creed Revelations  – – certainly did showcase my work. His music was incredibly rich, complex and emotive, and it was fantastic music to sculpt.
How does mixing a game compare and differ with that of a movie or television show and which do you prefer?
I love mixing score in 5.1 surround sound for big feature films, and unfortunately the majority of games still want only stereo music delivered. One of the reasons for that is the concept that when the dialog and sound effects are spinning around you as you play the game…. the score should generally be firmly anchored forward, to leave the brain space to take it all in.
The biggest consideration for me when I am recording & mixing music for any project is what will the score coexist with. Will there be lots of loud sound effects (such as rockets and explosions) or is it a more sonically sensitive project, such as the film score I did for The Lincoln Lawyer, with composer Cliff Martinez.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced polishing the score forA Star Wars Battlefront and what have been your greatest triumphs?
EA Star Wars Battlefront composer Gordy Haab and I have worked together on many different score projects, in many different musical styles over the years, so we have a great working relationship and rapport. Going into EA Star Wars: Battlefront, Gordy knew that I would 100% nail the sound we needed for the score, so that was a non-issue. Due to the schedule, I had to mix and master a tremendous amount of profoundly complex music in a relatively short time, but I’m no stranger to that, so the project was easy.
How many hours of music did you have to work on and and how much made it into the final build?
My Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) prevents me from mentioning exact numbers, but it was a very large amount of original score, and I’m confident that 100% of it would have made it into the final build. It is profoundly expensive to hire a world-class large orchestra, so no detail was left to chance.
Do you work on the product throughout production or do you come in towards the end and work your magic?
Due to the incredible complexity and amount of score that Gordy had to write, the pattern was compose, record, mix, compose, record, mix, compose, record, mix, in three big chunks. I have been working on the EA Star Wars: Battlefront game for a long, long time, and am thrilled to finally be able to talk a bit about it!
How much leeway did you have with the creation of the mix or did EA and the game producers give you the framework that you had to work in or was it more of a collaboration?
The beauty of working on a project of this nature is that everyone involved is working at the absolute top of the game, so to speak. The rich legacy of John Williams’ film scores clearly informed how Gordy’s score should sound, so it was merely a matter of me nailing that sound. The good news was that most of Williams’ Star Wars film scores were also recorded by The London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studio One, so it was possible for me to match the sound.
How do you balance the wealth of music from John Williams scores and how did you blend in mixing the old with the new?
The John Williams Star Wars film scores were complete, so those needed no polishing from me. Those film scores did, however, guide me as how to sculpt the sound of Gordy Haab’s EA Star Wars: Battlefront score.
Having said that, those six John Williams’ film scores themselves have a pretty wide range of sound. Gordy has a keen sense of sonics, and I really enjoy the collaboration with him while I sculpted the sound of the score for EA Star Wars: Battlefront.
Some composers are less perceptive than Gordy in regards to the tiniest sonic details, but Gordy is incredibly focused on every molecule of his scores, in a good way.
As a follow up, were you able to access new music for the Battle of Jakku and how was that to work with?
I sculpted every note of Gordy Haab’s EA Star Wars: Battlefront score, and it was all fantastic to work with.
Will you be mixing any of the upcoming DLC and what can you tell us about that?
My Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) precludes me from commenting on this.
What do you have coming up that the readers can look forward to?
Game developers usually don’t want people talking about projects that aren’t out yet, but I have a bunch of exciting film & game projects that are soon to be released. Stay tuned!
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