Composer Phil Boucher talks about the differences between the dubbing of films and games such as Heroes, Fortnite


Visual environments such as film and television are often primarily explored because of their visual effects. However, sound is no less important: institutions such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognize broad categories such as “Best Sound,” as well as more detailed sound mixing and individual songs during the Academy Awards ceremony. Video games are no different: every genre, from shooters to horror, thrives thanks to the exciting atmosphere created by their soundscapes. The composer-hero Phil Boucher has extensive experience in the field of entertainment.

Boucher started playing the trumpet, then became interested in the guitar. He switched to entertainment when he realized he probably wouldn’t be able to make a living with his “mediocre metal band” in high school, and went on to study film scoring and music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. This led to a job at Remote Control Productions, a film scoring company created by Hans Zimmer, where he received a list of credits, including several Pirates of the Caribbean films. Game Rant talked to Boucher about the differences between working on film and television music and video games such as Heroish, Fortnite and Civilization 6.

Orchestral music in Heroish

Although the decision to study film music was partly driven by a love of cinema, Boucher was interested in writing story songs with his early metal. Working in entertainment also seemed like an alternative to writing songs for more traditional orchestras, which he thought he would never be able to do because he didn’t have a “classical education.” Nevertheless, Boucher loves classical writing and “spent a lot of time studying and writing books to gain experience,” opening up opportunities to learn, grow and become better. However, he does not believe that this is necessary for all musicians in 2022.

“I think having such an experience is much less important than ever. Now there are many very talented and successful composers who have no experience with the orchestra at all.”

Most of Boucher’s work as a composer is done by himself, often using only keyboards. He said that he likes to break away from the computer and take up live instruments, and a number of his projects were performed by orchestras. For example, he said he was in a room with a 100-person orchestra in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Boucher first saw his own music performed live while working on Fortnite Chapter 1, Season 8.

For the Heroish game dedicated to the defense of the Apple Arcade castle, Sunblink Entertainment attracted an orchestra of 64 people and several soloists, creating “something unique” in the space. Boucher himself played acoustic guitar, small drums and medieval instruments in the soundtrack to Heroish.

Music as an aesthetic experience

Epic Games has invited Boucher back for several seasons of Fortnite, and he likes to explore the “wonderful sandbox,” but he said it’s difficult to create a coherent soundtrack combining the game’s internal knowledge and the franchise’s crossover themes—when the copyright holders allow them to use it. Music. “To justify all these things existing in the same space is my personal task,” Boucher said.

Nevertheless, “game” and “movie” music is not as difficult to combine as one might imagine. “Good music is good music, and each project has its own needs and style,” Boucher said. The main difference is how music is used for various entertainment activities. According to the composer, films have a more limited beginning and end, and, as a rule, there is a basic version for viewing and creating music. However, according to Boucher’s experience in games such as ReadySet Heroes from Robot Entertainment, “I’m often lucky if I get concept art.” Developers sometimes discuss the general tone, and the game can change dramatically, so with more punches.

As for his money, Boucher said that “the grass is always greener.” Movie soundtracks tend to offer instant gratification because it’s clear how sometimes bombastic music will play at any moment. However, the films are also drastically reduced to new scenes and interrupt musical phrases, and the game cycles as a whole have less intensity, but combine to create something more complete. “Whether it will be heard that way is another question, but at least it can be understood that way.”

“I would say that you write music in a different way, even if I hope that the end result will not sound like “music for games” or “music for movies”. Everything should be just music.”

Heroish is now available through Apple Arcade.


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