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End of the Road

6 May

So this is it: our finalized documentary is due in two days! We finished up most of the editing today and got some helpful feedback from our classmates and professor last week that really tied the entire production together. Reactions all around seem very positive in terms of subject matter, and apart from a few technical issues the production is good to go. We plan on submitting our finished documentary to several smaller film festivals, including a documentary-specific one in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, as well as the International Student Film Festival in Hollywood; both take place this October, so we’ll have to wait for a while before we hear back about our chances, but we’re hopeful it will get picked up!

We would also like to thank everyone, both participants and supporters, who made this documentary a reality, including Michael Samson, Tiffany Lu, Alex Ryan, Shota Nakama, Shawn Jimmerson, Austin Wintory and the entire Ithaca College Gamer Symphony Orchestra. It was a pleasure working with all of you, and hopefully the end of this production cycle will not mean the end of our journey.


Trailer and Two Week Mark

21 Apr

So this semester is finally winding down, which means that the final cut of our documentary will be due soon! We have a little less than two weeks to make our final edits and adjustments before the project has to be handed in, but we’re making progress. This Friday we picked out a few choice video and audio segments from our favorite songs and interviews and put them together in a 1-minute trailer that should be up on this page soon! We also have yet to put together a formal production book featuring a compilation of waivers, budget sheets, production notes, our formal script and other necessities; it’s a lot to do, but we’re confident we can get it done. Stay tuned in this coming week for our finalized trailer, as well as our finished product in less than 14 days!

Rough Cuts, Radio and More Editing

15 Apr

This past week was an exciting one for our documentary’s progress, starting with a great deal of more editing. We’ve looked through all of our interviews and pulled the clips we will most likely use, so this just leaves us to fill up time with more b-roll, music and other assorted visual and audio methods. For our documentary class on Thursday we presented a rough cut version of the project to the other students in our class, with a 2-minute opening sequence, several b-roll shots with music and segments of our best interviews; the entire thing was about 7 minutes long. We got mostly positive feedback from our group as well as some very helpful constructive criticism; people were overall very interested in the topic, even if they didn’t personally play or like video games, and they agreed the music was spectacular. Things they did want, however, included actual shots from the games themselves, which could be tricky to provide under copyright law, but after doing some research we concluded it might not be as much of a problem as we thought.

Additionally, our documentary got a bit of publicity this weekend when we were featured in a pre-recorded segment for the Sunday night local news show Ithaca Now, on 92 WICB, IC’s radio station. My partner Carly talked in detail about the making of the documentary, the filming process, contacting people for interviews and our total experience in making this film so far. Check it out here:

Interview 5 and First Cuts

31 Mar

This week, we began the process of editing and finalizing our project as a rough cut version for presentation in class. So far we have a rough idea of what the first several minutes of the documentary will look like; an orchestral tune-up soundtrack accompanied by several still shots of the group practicing, music sheets and other game memorabilia, followed by several short clips from interviews with members of the orchestra as to their experiences with video games.

On Friday we also interviewed Shota Nakama, a Japanese-born musician and composer who currently lives in Boston and directs the Boston-based group VGO (the Video Game Orchestra). Shota spoke about the accomplishments of his group since their founding in 2007-2008, as they have become one of the premier groups in this musical field and have performed at many prestigious events. Their fusion of orchestral sound and pop-rock band elements make them a very unique and interesting ensemble to follow, and once again Shota talked about the fact that in today’s musical world, video games have been elevated to an art form just as valuable and moving as classical composers (he was classically trained, after all). Looking forward to the concert this Tuesday, and another possible interview with Austin Wintory!

Interview 4 and Finalizing Footage

24 Mar

On Friday we interviewed Shawn Jimmerson, a sound designer for gaming company Treyarch. Shawn has done sound for many popular games including the Call of Duty: Black Ops series and Call of Duty 3, and talked about how much effort it takes to make video games sound and feel real to the player. Sound is a major component of making a game feel realistic, as without correct and naturally placed sounds the entire experience can be thrown off, and help to draw players into the experiences of the characters and the overarching story of the game. The interview also took place via Skype and was about a half hour in length.

On the production side of things, this coming week is technically supposed to be our last for shooting, and today we will wrap up footage from the GSO’s rehearsals, but our shooting will most likely last until the end of next week as well with the GSO’s upcoming concert and our now-nearly definite interview with Journey music composer Austin Wintory. Now the editing process begins…

Interview #3

12 Mar

Last Friday, March 8, we interviewed Alex Ryan, a student at the University of Maryland and a leader in that school’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra. This was a pretty big deal because the UoM orchestra is pretty much the premier group of its kind in the country, has played at several big gaming events and the inspiration it and its members provide is in large part why the IC Gamer Symphony was formed in the first place. We conducted the interview via Skype due to the distance and used a program I downloaded from the Internet called ECamm: basically it was an add-on to Skype that gives the program recording capabilities and saves video as a Quick Time movie. At some points the sound was off a bit and the video was blurry (that’s Skype for you) but overall the interview went very well technically speaking (most likely we can fix the audio issues in editing) and from a content perspective. Alex shared his view of why video game music should be considered an art form; like our former interview subjects Michael and Tiffany he spoke on how the experiences of players in any given game are deeply linked to the game’s music and that hearing the music again brings out the emotional circumstances and feelings experienced when first playing the game. The interview lasted about an hour, after which we packed up and headed out for spring break. One week off from this crazy documentary…but when we get back we’re looking to interview Austin Wintory, the man behind the nearly Grammy-winning music of Journey, as well as a sound editor with Treyarch’s Call of Duty games.


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