Hey, ReCore fans! My name is Chad Seiter, and I have the distinct pleasure of writing the music to ReCore, as well as this blog post today.
A little bit about myself: Â I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to begin my career working in film, game, and television music â€“ but it has since grown way beyond that. I began my career working as an assistant for composer Michael Giacchino (who went on to win an Academy Award for Up in 2010). I learned a lot of my trade from him, helping on amazing projects such as Star Trek (2009), Lost, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible III, Jurassic World, and Ratatouille. Through him, I was also able to write the music to some awesome projects, including FRINGE, LucasArtsâ€™ Fracture, and Star Trek: The Video Game, which allowed me to write a ridiculously huge orchestral action score, and record for four days with massive 123-piece orchestra.
Most recently, I wrote the music to LEGO Jurassic World. While I was working for Michael, I had the opportunity to be in recording studios every week, perfecting my orchestration skills. In 2010, I went on to co-create The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, where I worked closely with veteran game composer Koji Kondo to arrange Zeldaâ€™s melodies into full orchestra. Once Symphony of the Goddesses was released into the world, I went on to co-create PokÃ©mon: Symphonic Evolutions, which is touring now.
And now, here I am working on ReCore! As a composer and musician, I have been very fortunate to work on so many cool projects over the years. They have granted me the ability to explore and perfect my craft, and I have had the honor of helping tell some amazing stories. Amongst those, my favorites have always been the ones that have allowed me to collaborate with creative, remarkable people. ReCore has been nothing short of an extraordinary experience. I have had the unique pleasure of being a part of this project very early on, I have enjoyed watching it continue to grow into its own epic production.
When internal discussion of the ReCore E3 trailer began, I did not know much about the game itself. I had been confirmed on the project for a few months at this point, so I didnâ€™t really know what to expect when the first version of the trailer arrived in my inbox. Suffice to say, I was so excited that I couldnâ€™t possibly download it fast enough.
For those who have never seen early computer animation, it is a very unique, oftentimes mystifying experience. There is very little color, and no lighting. The characters seem to glide across the smooth ground with their arms stretched outward like a ghost walking down a hallway, as though you were watching The Shining. Their faces frozen and emotionless, red and green lines box them in, showing where they exist in a 3D space. There are only a few shots that are further along in the animation process that give you a glimpse of what the final animation will feel like. Even when taking all this into account, I still got goosebumps as I watched it. I knew the final form of the trailer would be truly exceptional.
After about 10 minutes of my wife listening to a completely one sided â€œOH MY GOD Iâ€™M SO EXCITEDâ€ tirade, I quickly booted MOTU Digital Performer, the program which I use to compose music. I hurriedly imported the video and loaded my sounds. Everything was ready to go. Then, I looked at my blank canvas, and I was terrified. I knew that this had to be really, really good.
Up to this point I had only written a 5-minute demo, which thankfully everybody at Microsoft Studios, Armature, and Comcept loved. I received lots of positive feedback, and it has since moved on to become the â€œMain Themeâ€ of the game itself. I knew it would be the basis for the trailer, but I had to figure out HOW to incorporate it.
This is the toughest part about being a composer. As somebody whose job is to assist and amplify the core emotions of the story itself, I had to figure out what angle I should take with the music. What motivates these characters? What makes them happy or sad? When are they scared? When are they at their strongest? What we do know about ReCore is told from the point of view of Joule, a confident young woman surviving an unlikely, desolate landscape. With the help of Mack, one of her closest robotic friends, she would be able to continue to survive in this terrifying climate, full of dangers lurking at every turn. So, keeping that all in mind, please take a moment to listen to the trailer track, and here we goâ€¦
I began with the sandstorms, which have been discussed at length by Keiji Inafune and Mark Pacini during E3. Musically, I wanted to approach it as an insurmountable wall of sound. Much like how a sandstorm approaches from the distance, so too does the music â€“ a very quiet, distant, solitary chord utilizing all the notes in a minor scale, which quickly grows to encompass the sonic field as a gigantic wall of sound, before peaking and slowly fading away into nothingness.
After Joule and Mack emerge from the sandstorm, you hear a very brief quote of â€œJouleâ€™s Themeâ€ with a distant, lonely soprano voice. I wanted to bring a human element to the score, highlighting Joule, in her effort to survive as a single human in an otherwise humanless(?) situation. To achieve this sound, I went to one of my very close friends, the amazing Laura Intravia. I have had the honor of working with her for a while now, and she has played a vital role in the sound of ReCore. You will hear more of â€œJouleâ€™s Themeâ€ at a later time as ReCore develops, with Lauraâ€™s brilliant contributions in full song form.
Now, this is where it gets tricky. As Joule and Mack head down a canyon together, they discover a door which hasnâ€™t been opened in some time. Mack detects faint skitters in the distance. Before they know it, Joule and Mack are assaulted by ridiculously fast robotic spiders, hell-bent on taking them out. At this point the music becomes loud, scary, and chaotic. They are in real danger â€“ Jouleâ€™s weapon jams, and the spiders are closing in on them. Itâ€™s a dire situation, so Mack takes the lead and puts himself in their direct line of sight.
This is where the real heart of ReCore kicks in, and this moment represents everything that ReCore stands for â€“ friendship, comradery, and courage. So too, the music should represent all those aspects. As Mack stands his ground to protect Joule, the noble guitars enter, and a steady confident pulse starts in the drums, as the courageous French Horn ensemble blasts the Main Theme. THIS is the sound of ReCore.
The spiders continue to overwhelm, and at that moment, Mack looks back at Joule as he realizes he must sacrifice himself if Joule is to survive. While Mack is confident in his actions, we do not yet know if he will survive. To highlight this, I ramp up the strings into several soaring octaves, as well as drop out the rhythmic momentum â€“ this is a very small, finite moment. Mack has decided what he is going to do. He runs toward the spiders. Jouleâ€™s eyes widen in disbelief and fear â€“ my favorite image in the entire trailer, by the way â€“ and Mack self-destructs, destroying both the spiders and himself. The music drops out. The damage has been done, and the only thing remaining is his core. Has he survived?
As Joule runs to retrieve Mackâ€™s core, a lonely solo cello enters with a quote of the Main Theme. There is a slight hint of tension in the music as Joule nervously and hurriedly inserts Mackâ€™s core into a nearby robot. Thankfully, Mack boots up and confidently rises up to continue their journey together.
â€œWelcome back, buddy,â€ says Joule with a hint of relief. This is my favorite moment of the entire trailer, as I believe it perfectly signifies the bond these two friends have. So with that, the quote of the Main Theme continues, this time at its most confident, as they look forward to their mission. The doors open, revealing a final horrifying, gargantuan spider. The music doesnâ€™t change â€“ it doesnâ€™t become scary, and there is no hint of terror whatsoever. From Mack and Jouleâ€™s perspective, they can accomplish absolutely anything, as long as they are doing it together.
Scoring this trailer is one of the most difficult tasks Iâ€™ve ever faced, and Iâ€™m exceedingly proud of how the music turned out. But, composing it was only half the fun. The music now lives in a synthesized, robotic version. Much like the game, it is now time to focus on the most human aspect of the music â€“ recording with the orchestra!
Working with dozens of orchestras from all over the world during my career has been a humbling experience. I have worked with orchestras in Tokyo, London, Eastern Europe, Canada, South America, Mexico, and about half of the 50 United States, to name a few. They are all fantastic and bring their own unique voices to a project â€“ but for this I was thrilled to bring the trailer to my home â€“ Los Angeles. I contacted my good friends at Cinema Scoring, and assembled an orchestra of some of the finest players the world has to offer. They have never played the music before, nor have they looked at it. They walk in the studio, sit down, and play. The recording session lasted two hours, and they are such exceptional musicians that it was more than enough time.
Much like ReCore, an orchestra relies and thrives on friendship, trust, and camaraderie â€“ otherwise, they simply cannot function. They work together as one entity, and create beautiful results. To capture this, you need a talented recording engineer. I turned to my friend Satoshi Noguchi, who has captured the performances of so many amazing ensembles. You also need a scoring stage â€“ an acoustically perfect room designed to properly highlight the music. These stages come in all shapes and sizes. I chose The Bridge in Glendale, CA.
Continuing the positive theme of ReCore, the trailer was orchestrated and conducted by the exceedingly talented Susie Benchasil Seiter, who also happens to be my wife and partner-in-crime. A recording session is a very intricate machine and literally thousands of things can go wrong. There are so many moving parts. Most people who witness a recording session are shocked at the enormous amount of work that goes into the preparation. A great conductor knows how to efficiently lead the troops on the battlefield and make sure we get the music laid down into Pro Tools with time to spare.
From there, Satoshi and I went back to his place to mix the music, and within 36 hours, I was delivering the final music to Microsoft Studios and Source Sound for integration with picture and mixing with the sound effects.
ReCore has been (and continues to be) one of the most exciting projects Iâ€™ve had the privilege of being a part of. Creating an animation like this is never a small job. It takes hundreds of talented artists and producers to bring something like this into the world. It goes through hundreds of versions, and so many people work hard to polish it to perfection. Itâ€™s my sincere hope that everybody reading this had as much fun watching the trailer as I had writing the music to it.
Want to find out even more about ReCore? Tweet us at @ReCoreGame!