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Q&A with Jared Emerson-Johnson, Friday!

posted by nikasaur on - last edited - Viewed by 5K users

Hear ye hear ye, Jared is coming to the forums to answer some of your music and sound related questions! Pop in to hear the answers on Friday the 2nd from 10am to 11am PST (he chose this specifically so Europeans can be awake for it, what a guy!)

Let me tell you- Jared is a superhero. He sets the tone of the world with ease, he knocks out sound effects with a single blow, he makes what we do sound AMAZING. It's a fact that Telltale sometimes hires super-human automatons, and investigations as to Jared's actual humanity are pending. Some people are just too talented.

(Fun fact: he's also super-skilled at Beatles Rock Band.)

We're open for questioning, so load 'em up and keep him busy.

182 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @MalkyTop said: ... (and I'm a string bassist!) yeah.

    Contrabass FTW!

  • @Zenfirg said: Who's your favorite video game composer?

    How long does it take for you to make one whole soundtrack?

    How long is your normal day at work and what do you generally do in one day?

    Thanks for making so many great songs. Desinge was really fun to listen and he was one of my favorite characters so I hope you continue voice acting in Telltale games.

    Good question. Of the many talented folks I have worked with, Peter McConnell really stands out for me, both professionally and personally. To be honest, I don't actually listen to a ton of game soundtracks, so I'm probably not as good a source for recommendations as a more avid gamer might be. Of course I really love the greats like Koji Kondo and Nobuo Uematsu, and I really love some of the work by newer folks like Kō Ōtani.

    There is some variation in how long it takes to make a soundtrack, and it mostly depends on the production schedule for the games in question. Telltale games tend to be extremely heavy on the music order, so for the previous two Sam & Max seasons it was around 5-6 months from start to end, and for Wallace & Gromit I want to say it was a little more, like 7-8 or so. For some of our other, smaller gigs, though, where we turn around a soundtrack in a month or two.

    In a normal day I usually spend about 10-12 hours working (sometimes less, sometimes more). What I do varies hugely, depending on where we are in production, and what needs to be done. Today, for example, I'm answering these questions for the first couple hours!

  • @pwblaine said: !! you took the words right out of my mouth. but its totally still true, the whole jazz feel of sam and max, the way the theme sounds like a crime comedy from the 50s, i just close my eyes and see myself in frank sinatraesque bachelor pad. when did you start doing music professionally? did you play any instruments as a kid? how has designing music changed for you over the years? (equipment, styles, etc)

    The first pro gig I had was working as a part copyist and composing apprentice for Clint Bajakian's score to Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, back in the summer of 2002. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in college.

    I started playing the violin when I was little, 4 or 5, and I studied singing quite a bit throughout High School.

    So far my process hasn't changed too terribly much. There is always new gear, and new bits of technology, but at the heart of it, my composition is roughly the same as it ever was (same as it ever was...same as it ever was).

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    puzzlebox Telltale Staff

    @JaredEJ said:
    I would love to have a full "making-of" video put together at some point (there was a small one a couple years back that Jake and Nick make, and it is probably still available somewhere in the TT web archives) [...]

    For anyone who's interested, I think it's here.

  • @JedExodus said: Thanks for keeping us Europeans in mind with the timing :)

    Apart from our usual dose of hard jazz and the sci-fi sound that we've already heard in the trailer (I really dig that wee theramin thingy over the main hook in the trailer) what other genres can we expect to hear creeping in this season?*

    When you're writing say a big musical number or music to fit a cutscene do you have to time it around the animations or do the animaters work around the music?

    Simon or Garfunkel?

    Thanks for your time, i'm very excited to hear what's in store for us this season and I really mean that

    *There was a vicious rumour of an auto-tuned sexy RnB song sung by Max flying about. Started by me

    Ps. sheet music and chord charts please sheet music and chord charts please sheet music and chord charts please sheet music and chord charts please sheet music and chord charts please sheet music and chord charts please kthxbai :)

    Without giving too much away, you can expect to hear some earlier american styles, like ragtime, and early pre-jazz—also some more classic film noir scoring.

    So far, for the musical numbers, they've been generous in letting me write a full thing, and then they've tailored the animation to the music.

    Hahah, um...that is a hilarious question, dude. I'd have to say Simon, just because I'm more familiar with his body of work, and it's so extensive. Garfunkel does have that awesome fro, though, so...hard to say.

    Heh, I'll see what I can do about sheet music. I'm happy to get you the material I have from our sessions, but I'm afraid it might not be super useful since it's generally just part of the full score. I can definitely get you folks some MIDI files, if you feel like arranging some parts yourselves. If you do end up playing the tunes, I wanna hear it!

  • @Nojh said: Hi Jared!

    Just one or two questions that might actually be out of your field but I thought I'd ask.

    1. Do you deal with any of the technical side of integrating the music and sound effects into the game or just the creation of the music and sounds?

    2. I assume the telltale engine take a "pre-rendered" approach to sound, meaning that you record what is going to be used and then wait for events to trigger that sound effect. Have you ever heard of or worked with the idea of generative music and sounds, where the game itself generates the music or sound effects based upon what is happening in the game or other input/output (probably from samples of music or algorithms)?

    Yes, we do all of the sound implementation, and I do some of the music implementation as well. Basically any audio that occurs in a cutscene is hand scored by us. The environment music loops often need some special care from the programming staff, so they really help out with that side of it, but we're definitely rolled into the process.

    Yes, I'm definitely interested in generative audio, but I haven't had a ton of personal experience with it. My colleague Damian Kastbauer has a lot more hands on experience with that side of things, and I'll bet he could go into a lot of detail about it. I think Telltale's games operate in a way that really requires the pre-rendered approach, since they are so cinematic, and since so much of the action of the games takes place in story driven cutscenes, etc.

  • @Hassat Hunter said: Jake stole my questions. But yeah, listening to the commentary of season 2, will Bluster Blaster return or was that deemed too demanding for your health (or, he returns just less shouty).

    Favorite song is "New location unlocked", gotta love that song. I know it's a remixed Midtown Cowboy's song, but after 100 times, I still can't hear that though... also really love the small bleeping song of 105 and 105. Should have used that one for the puzzle of 205 devs instead of the mimesweeper song! :D

    Anyway, questions not dealing with TTG even. I saw a certain "Jarad Emerson-Johnson" worked on KOTOR2 cinematic cutscene movies. I assume that's just a typo'ed you though. Made any new songs there too, if so, which?

    Back to the TTG territory... What's the song of season 3 that you most like and we definitely should keep on the wait for?

    See my response to Jake. I'm all for bringing him back. I've got my throat spray at the ready.

    Regarding "New Location Unlocked," try skipping to 2:47 and see if you can make it out...the rhythms are adjusted, and it's generally slower and more chilled out than the actual theme, but it's there.

    People have had more trouble getting my name credited correctly than I can count :) I've been Jerad, Jerrod, Jerod, Jered...and my last name has been just "Emerson," and just "Johnson," too. It's mostly just funny to me. My work on Kotor 2 was mostly in an editing capacity, but stay tuned for more information on the KOTOR music front.

  • Ok, I officially want to make a Transmet game now.

  • @GinnyN said:

    Edit: Uhhh I forgot. When I recieved my Copies of both soundtracks, I play them in the Car with my dad in a long trip. He loves it. And he didn't know who are Sam and Max (He doesn't like adventure games). Well, he didn't actually say that, he asks me about the band ;). And considering those copies took a long trip to get to my hands, I'm lucky to still have it. (In a totally unrelated note, those copies survived a Mega Earthquake *thumbs up*)

    Awesome, and awesome!

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    Jake Telltale Alumni

    @Will said: Ok, I officially want to make a Transmet game now.


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