By Emily Perkins / August 19th, 2014
Remember those catchy little tunes from our video games? Whatever game you choose to play, there’s always the music themes that catch our attention. Have you ever wondered about the history of the music placed in a game? Buckle your seatbelts, friends, because Ehtonal, Inc. announced the production of BEEP. Most of you may be curious as to what BEEP is. Well, BEEP: A History of Game Sound, which is the full name, is a documentary film. It’s about time someone made a detailed movie of the sound and music in games! BEEP journeys through the rich and amazing history of game sounds and music. Not only does BEEP provide the facts of today’s greatest sounds and music of some of the world’s greatest games, but BEEP also ventures back all the way to the 1970s to explore the very start of classic arcade games. A book accompanies the documentary as well, giving this history lesson a detailed look at the development of game audio. With both the movie and book chock full of interviews from some of the most passionate creators of game sound, BEEP is one thing you won’t want to miss!
BEEP has some pretty amazing people at the helm too! If you think musicians and journalists are enough to help create this film, think again! BEEP is led by Karen Collins, the University of Waterloo’s Canada Research Chair in Interactive Audio at the Game Institute and the world’s leading authority in game musicology. Collins had been wonderstruck by game sound and music since the days of Pong, and today she wants to share the incredible progress the field has developed in the last 40 years. “Right now, the scope of BEEP is covering it all, we might narrow it down depending on the footage we get, but we intend to put together a full history of game sound, from the Victorian mechanical arcade games through today,” Collins describes. “I’d also like to pay tribute to some of the incredible music using game sound chips but not making game music, what’s called ‘chip tunes’. Malcolm McLaren once thought it was going to be the next big thing, but instead it’s been on a steadily increasing trajectory; it just hasn’t become mainstream yet.” In addition, Collins promises the documentary will show the tremendous amount of effort that is involved in making games, including the talent of game sound and music. Collins also added she wants to “give a voice to all of those musicians, programmers, and sound designers that made the songs and sounds we love, and provide them with a chance to tell their own stories on how they changed history.”
The creator of BEEP has already written multiple other books and articles on game sound. Now this small speckle has been transformed into a topic which has been debated within conferences. In her latest book, she claims she will go into even more detail to show the massive history of game music. She hopes that BEEP will engage the mind of musicians, gamers, and everyone in between with her important message. What’s even better than this? BEEP’s content in the documentary is under the direction of a resourceful crew and many specialists lend a helping hand with the production. Some of these include Leonard Paul, a chip-tune composer who took part in Retro City Rampage; DB Cooper, a prolific narrator in which associated with Firefall; post-production audio team Savalas, who worked on Dead Island 2 and Halo 4; and post-production manager Rory O’Neill, with Smallville included as one of his works. BEEP isn’t only a documentary, it is also one more step in preserving the stories behind video game sound and music so that they don’t vanish forever. According to Collins, “We have a really unique opportunity in that nearly all of the people who worked on video games are still alive. We can’t go back and interview Beethoven or Max Steiner or Carl Stalling, but we can document game music and sound history right now, and then it’s there for all the people in the future who might have questions. We’ve got a librarian on board who has a master’s degree in popular music who is going to help us with archiving and making the footage available in the best way possible. So in a way, this project is about protecting this heritage that we have, recording it now before it’s too late.”
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