Think that game soundtracks are all fun and, well, games? Well, they’re not. Leastways not according to Duane Decker, who’s been composing and producing game soundtracks for over a decade. As an in-house composer at Microsoft Game Studios and elsewhere, Decker created soundtracks for everything from pinball games and location-based entertainment to PC and Xbox games. He’s also scored several AAA game titles, and commercially released the soundtracks for two games (including the first game soundtrack ever released in 5.1 surround).
- COMPANY: DDMusic LL
- CCONTACT: www.duanedecker.com
- LOCATION: Woodinville, WA
- KEY CREW: Duane Decker
But as game development shifted toward the film and television production model where music is contracted out, he saw the writing on the wall — it was time to go freelance. So he launched DDMusic, his own music production company. The move has had additional benefits. “As a freelance composer, I can not only continue to score game titles, but also branch out into areas that aren’t available to an in-house composer,” says Decker.
Since opening DDMusic, Duane has worked on TV and film production music and advertising projects in addition to continuing to score games. “While there are some critical differences between the linear nature of film and non-linear nature of games, there are also similarities with regard to production and enhancing the emotions conveyed in the story line. Making the transition from one to the other is both logical and advantageous for producers and directors in both media.”
Decker already had a home studio rig in place when he opened DDMusic. “I have a passion for music technology. I designed and co-built my first synthesizer when I was in college and I spent several years as a Product Specialist for Kurzweil and Emu Systems. So I always tried to keep my home studio current, even when working in-house. I’ve been using [MOTU] Performer since version 1 and continue to use Digital Performer because of its powerful integration of MIDI and audio. A MOTU 2408mk3 and two 24i interfaces provide I/O for the system. This yields 72 ins and 34 outs; more than enough to allow my system to be hooked up and ready to play at any time without repatching.”
A TC Electronic PowerCore provides additional plug-in power. Digital Performer is locked picture using QuickTime, which streams the video to a separate TV screen. Soft instruments such as TASCAM GigaStudio, MOTU MachFive, and Spectrasonics Atmosphere find regular use, as do his trusty Emu E4K, EIV, and e64. A cadre of hardware synths are on hand if more polyphony or sounds are required.
Because he offers surround production, he upgraded to a Blue Sky 5.1 monitor system. A Mackie Universal Control Surface provides hands-on mixing, while a DrumKat DK-10 allows for real-time entry of drum and percussion parts. For maximum productivity, studio layout was of paramount concern. “I laid out the racks in an ergonomic way so that the most used items are within reach and the rest reside underneath the desk.”
When the project calls for it (and budget allows) Decker records live players in commercial studios in Seattle. “While my studio can record one or two players at a time, it’s more efficient to book a commercial studio to make the live recordings come to life.” Secure FTP is the preferred delivery method for finished projects, although CD, DVD, and tape delivery are also offered.
“It’s great to be living in a time when the technology allows artists to create and produce high quality music on their own terms. It opens up the world of music to everyone who has an interest. The benefits of the arts reach beyond simply listening to music to touch our collective soul.”