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No GravatarI recently got the chance to speak with composer Anthony Willis about his work in cinema as well as discuss his work on the Knack 2 soundtrack. Please take a look below.

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JB: How did you first get into composing? Was there any specific thing that inspired you?

AW: I actually grew up singing music as a chorister of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in England, which was a very inspiring time in my life. Windsor Castle is a popular residence for the British Royal Family, and so I was constantly surrounded by some of the world’s greatest choral music.

That experience at Windsor taught me to understand how music in built, and definitely instilled the desire to write my own music! That early training has been of immense value to my life as a composer.

 

JB:  Who are some of your influences as a composer?

AW: There are probably many more than I even realise..I suppose that potentially anything and everything that’s I’ve loved hearing has rubbed off in me in some way..and I have a pretty broad taste for what I like! Alongside my classical background, I’ve always been wowed by artists like Bjork, Sigur Ross, Radiohead, and then of course there’s Eminem.. In terms of film music, I grew up loving the scores of my childhood, Hans Zimmer’s The Lion King and Gladiator. James Horner’s American TaleBraveheart and Titanic. Patrick Doyle’s Henry V & Basil Poledouris’s Free Willy,  Harry Gregson Williams & John Powells Shrek- It seems obvious, but the biggest influencer of a given score is the story for which it’s created. No matter our desires as a composers, we must search to find the best way to bring that to life.

 

JB:  You have composed music for a wide variety of movies, including Despicable Me 2, Rio 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2, as well as The Martian, The Birth of a Nation, and Jason Bourne just to name a few. These are very different films requiring a very different style, so how do you find that different sound needed for each film? Where do you begin the process of composing?

AW: I think most composers really enjoy the variety that each project brings. It’s a chance to turn our hand to something that calls for different musical colours and devices, and the best composers are able to bind these together for each project with a consistent dramatic and musical instinct.

In the case of some of the films you’ve mentioned, because they are sequels, a lot of my involvement has been supporting the lead composer in creating variations and additional material, helping them to produce each cue in the score to the best standard possible. While the overall tone has been established, most sequels will introduce an exciting new element and or characters to the story. And so the challenge is to bring something fresh to the score to support those new elements musically, while making sure that it it feels part of the whole.

Finding the right tone for a new project is always a challenge, and that moment in the film’s creation is a very definitive one. In my experience the director has always had a critical role in that process, helping to steer the score towards it’s target. As a starting point, I’ve always been taught that a great tune, and an interesting set of chords to go with it, is the most impactful way to reach your audience.

 

JB:  What are some of your favourite films to compose for?

AW: I’ve really loved the experiences I’ve had in animation and adventure films. They allow you to really wear your heart on your sleeve in supporting the emotions of the film. The sky is very much the limit. I also love period dramas. They often have such important and timeless messages, and an intriguing sense of location. From a musical point of view, they have a wonderful way of focusing you stylistically, and the results can be very pure and honest.

 

JB:  What is a movie series you would love to work on?

AW: I absolutely love fantasy, adventure and magic, and so I’d love to compose on something like the Chronicles of Narnia. Those stories were so inspiring to me when I was growing up, and as a composer, the musical and dramatic opportunities are as good as they come.

I would also love to score more contemporary dramas. These can offer the opportunity to be quite musically minimal, but incredibly focused emotionally. I saw Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River at Sundance last year and was blown away by his command of that genre.

 

JB:  Moving to your work on Knack 2, I have to ask what interested you in this project?

AW: I was definitely looking for an opportunity to compose on a video game! Knack presented such a great wealth of musical possibilities that it seemed like the perfect project to enter the gaming world. There are adventures, heroics, great locations and environments, mystery.. the kitchen sink!

The developers were looking for a new sound for this second installment, something more akin to an animated movie experience, and so I was delighted to come on board.

 

JB:  How have you found working on composing for video games to be? Its obviously very different from movies, but what has stood out to you the most?

AW; In the case of Knack 2 specifically, the needs of the ‘in game’ music itself, were quite different to a typical film score. The music’s function is largely designed to energize the player, while adapting to their environment as they progress through the levels. The music is therefore very modular in design, there’s no definitive arrangement or sequence in which the music will unfold, and not really an opportunity for extended melodies. However, I really enjoyed this more minimal and percussive approach, which I think brought a more contemporary flare to the score.

That said, in many ways writing the music to Knack 2 was very similar to an animated movie, especially in the creation of themes and scoring of cinematic sequences.

Overall, you want to approach every varying project with your best work, which hopefully will resonate with an audience. In most games, there are upwards of 10 hours of game play experience, and so that offers an even greater opportunity for the audience, in this case player, to interact with the score. There’s a huge support for Video Game music by the gaming community, and perhaps even more pressure to live up to their expectations!

 

JB:  What goes into your process specifically for how you approached the video game music? Any specific influences that you wanted to pay tribute to?

AW: The music team and I started by trying to find some strong musical themes to support Knack and his world. I tend to write themes at the piano, in my head on a walk, or even at the sequencer itself, it depends very much on the situation. It’s so helpful to have these themes established as I approach the cinematic and game play cues. I’ll then try to find the best possible structure and appropriate arrangement for each moment in the game. It’s hard to pin down specific influences as it all gets put in the washing machine, but I grew up loving the music for Zelda, the use of themes, and the way the music supports the mystery and problem solving throughout the game. The Knack 2 score also has a definite nod in places to the classic adventure feel of John Barry.

 

JB:  What are some other video games you would like to work on in terms of composing?

AW: There is such a wealth of video games being developed at the moment we live in an amazing time of innovation. Being able to wake up every day and have a game to work on is a real privilege. I would love to lend my hand to a VR experience, with a lot of space to draw the player in and immerse them emotionally. I would love to work on something like Ori and the Blind Forest. The developers did such an amazing job, together with their composer Gareth Coker, at bringing that world to life. So it might have to be Ori’s distant cousin for me!

 

JB:  Did you enjoy the experience of working on Knack 2?

AW: Absolutely! Like any project it had it’s challenges, but I’m so proud to be attached to the game, and to have been able to make a musical contribution to support Knack. I’d like to make special mention of my producers at Sony Playstation, Peter Scaturro and Keith Leary, who brought me on to the project, expertly guided me through the process, and supported my vision for the score. The whole music team at Playstation and JStudio were wonderful collaborators.

 

JB:  Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

AW: Well first of all, thank you for reading and for taking an interest in the Knack 2 score!

If you’d like to hear the score, the full album is available on the PlayStation Network- and will soon be available on itunes!

 

There are some preview tracks available here

 

JB: Thank you again

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Sep, 2017 At 02:26 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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Who remembers the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch? If you do, you may be interested in knowing that a new Sabrina series is in the works at the CW. Except, this is not Sabrina as you remember her.

 

The hourlong drama reimagines the story of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age tale that traffics in horror, the occult and witchcraft, naturally. The new iteration is described as in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is penning the adaptation, which is being eyed as a companion for Riverdale that would potentially debut in the 2018-19 TV season. He will exec produce with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Jon Goldwater and Lee Toland Krieger, who will direct the pilot should the project move forward. Berlanti Productions will produce in association with Warner Bros. TV.

 

 

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also represents a homecoming of sorts for the character of Sabrina Spellman. Melissa Joan Hart memorably played the character in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The half-hour, produced by Viacom Productions, ran on ABC for four seasons before moving to The WB its final three seasons. The comedy wrapped in 2003, three years before The WB would merge with UPN to become The CW.

In recent years, Archie has been playing up the horror aspects of Sabrina in various comics. This TV show has a lot of potential, and is one to keep your eyes on.

 

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By Sebastian Marco On 30 Aug, 2017 At 06:46 AM | Categorized As ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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With Defenders just released the other week (I really need to finish it) Netflix is already has more Marvel shows in the works. Now Daredevil’s best introduced the walking dead’s Jon Bernthal’s Punisher into the Marvel Netflix Uniniverse with his own series. His disregard for the law and crime alike slowly crawled into our favorites on the show. By the end of the season 2 we were defiantly wanting more, I think what did it was, the jail scene. Early this week before the teaser trailer was released the Punisher twitter account tweeted this out.

Fans recognized the Morse Code and dechpired them into what seem to be episode titles.  Which are as follows:

  1. 3am
  2. Two Dead Men
  3. Kandahar
  4. Resupply
  5. Gunner
  6. The Judah’s Goat
  7. Crosshairs
  8. Cold Steel
  9. Front Toward Enemy
  10. Virtue of the Vicious
  11. Danger Close
  12. Home
  13. Memento Mori

The Punisher is possibly set to come out this year or sometime early the beginning of 2018

By Jonathan Balofsky On 24 May, 2017 At 04:54 PM | Categorized As Animation, News, ROG News, Television, Videos | With 0 Comments

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Netflix and Konami have released the first trailer for the upcoming animated Castlevania series. The series debuts on July 7 of this year.

 

The series looks dark and violent and like a Castlevania series should. Check out the trailer below

 

 

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 4 May, 2017 At 07:10 PM | Categorized As Animation, News, News, NINTENDO, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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Russia is a country that does not seem to like Pokémon Go. They previously arrested a man and charged him with inciting religious hatred for playing Pokémon Go in a church. He faces 3 years imprisonment if found guilty.

It seems the Simpsons have also run afoul of the country for this same reason. A recent Simpsons episode say the show spoof Pokémon Go and had Homer play a similar game inside a church. This angered Russian clerics and the episode has been held back in the country as a result.

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By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Feb, 2017 At 11:21 AM | Categorized As International News, NINTENDO, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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Toyota has been promoting their car, the C-HR with “crossover” commercials. One recent commercial shows Ryu from Street Fighter driving the car through the other stages before battling M Bison in the car. I am not doing it justice and this needs to be seen.

This is the car commercial for me. If I saw this on TV, I would be very interested in the car. What about you all?

I like how gaming is becoming more entwined with advertising for products like cars and such. It helps make gaming feel more accepted than it has been in the past.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 12 Jan, 2017 At 12:58 AM | Categorized As News, NINTENDO, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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Actor Tony Rosato died Monday of a heart attack at 62 years old. He was known in the world of Nintendo as the voice of Luigi in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Super Mario World cartoon,

Rosato had a lengthy career in Canada and in the US. He was part of both SCTV and SNL and worked on other programs with people such as Bea Arthur. While video game fans may morn the death of the voice of Luigi, he was also a beloved actor in his other roles and will be missed.

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By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Sep, 2016 At 09:05 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

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Sept 8 marks the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, one of the most important sci-fi series of all time. I have long had an affinity for the franchise, dating back to when I was a child and would watch episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation with my family. Star Trek has always been a part of my life really. When I was in elementary and junior high school, I would come home and watch repeats of Star trek Voyager ( which I can’t watch anymore as I can only see the flaws now) and later got into Deep Space Nine.

I didn’t see the original series until I was 15, when the first episode I saw was the season 2 episode “A Piece of the Action”, the episode where the crew encountered the Iotian people who have based their society on 1920’s gangsters. It was a quirky show and after that I watched episodes like “The Squire of Gothos” which is the one that got me hooked. After that episode, I came to enjoy the original series a lot more and it helped me to truly appreciate the series that came after it. When I first decided to see the movies, I didn’t know what to expect. The first one was just confusing but from The Wrath of Khan onward they were good, yes even the odd numbered ones.

My personal favourite Star Trek series has always been Deep Space Nine. It was the darkest of the franchise but had the most character development. The characters who started the series were not the same at the end ( literally in one case). It showed a captain who was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, but Captain Sisko was also haunted by his actions. The episode “In The Pale Moonlight” is the greatest episode of the series in my opinion, simply because it showed that war makes everything a shade of grey. It had memorable characters such as Quark, Odo, Major Kira and coming from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf. It also had amazing villains such as the Dominion and Gul Dukat. If you haven’t seen the series, then I recommend you check it out as soon as possible.

Star Trek inspired so much in society, from societal progress to technological innovation and influenced the entire genre of science fiction from that point onward. This is the franchise that boldly went, where no one had gone before!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 9 Aug, 2016 At 01:52 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

No GravatarMarvel and Netflix have released a new trailer showing off the new Luke Cage TV series. The series looks true to the comics while adding its own bend. Netflix has done a great job with the Marvel properties so far and this will hopefully be no different.

Check out the trailer below.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 23 Jul, 2016 At 12:48 AM | Categorized As Movie News, ROG News, Television | With 0 Comments

No GravatarComing out of San Diego Comic Com is the trailer for the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel “American Gods”. The series is being adapted by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and stars Ricky Whittle as protagonist Shadow Moon. Check out the teaser trailer below