AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - January 8, 2015

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In 2013, the AES PNW Section learned all about the sound design and effects for the video game, "Forza Motorsport 4." To concentrate on that, the music was turned down, but as the music for such games is a story unto itself, the PNW Section January 2015 meeting presented Lance Hayes, Lead Composer for the current Forza Motorsport 5, who spoke about how the music score was created and recorded. Lance, an independent composer (, also worked on several previous Forza soundtracks. The meeting was held at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. About 50 people (14 AES members) attended.

Lance is an award winning composer working in media, advertising, and television for some 20 years, and mainly on video game soundtracks for the past 10 years. Some of his projects include composing and producing music for "Nike+ Kinect Fitness," the Stranded Music for the video game "Gears of War 3," and music for "Xbox Fitness." Additional clients include Activision, The Discovery Channel, Warner Bros., Best Buy, National Geographic, Harpo Inc., MTV, VH1 and many others.

Forza Motorsport 5 (FM5) naturally evolved from its predecessors FM4, 3 and so on. Lance had worked on FM3 in various capacities, and by FM4 was doing the in-game music. He was hired for FM5, which was to be a launch title for the new xbox One console, and expected to raise the music bar with new technologies, live orchestral mixes, and 7.1 surround.

Lance described preproduction work, composing for the evolving game concepts. There would be 18 unique tracks of 5 sections each, 3 hours of music and 2,000 stems. Everything HAD to be done for launch day. The gameplay story arc was covered, and how music was composed for the game "Homespace, Travel, Pre-Race, Race, and Rewards" elements. Making music work depending upon game play was demonstrated.

The style of the music was important. FM4 and 5 had moved to a cinematic score feel, yet the music needed to evoke certain similar emotional responses as previous FM games, a signature sound for the FM series. Lance could do a lot of the work in his personal studio, but FM5 called for live music elements, which would be recorded in Marin County, Los Angeles, New York City, and Redmond. He spoke of the challenges in composing to integrate all of these elements into a coherent music track.

The Skywalker Symphony strings were recorded at Skywalker Sound with Leslie Ann Jones;
M.B. Gordy played percussion parts at Sonic Fuel in Los Angeles; the NY Film Chorale sang at Avatar Studios, NYC; guitar tracks and stem mixing were done in Redmond.

Lance also spoke about using FMOD Studio for controlling music elements for gameplay.

The video of this presentation is available courtesy of Microsoft Research, at:

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