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John K. Webster
Beep is a documentary history of game sound, from the Victorian penny arcades through pinball and the video games right up to 2015. Beep shows how technology and creativity combined to create some of the most memorable music of our time. Featuring major game composers, sound designers, programmers, and voice actors and directors, Beep explores all aspects of the auditory side of games.
I'm a video game developer, composer, and also an audio teacher. Having been involved with game audio for more than a decade, I'm familiar with the work of Karen Collins. Her books are among the first to delve deep into the game audio field, both from a historical and from a practical perspective. So when she started a Kickstarter campaign for this documentary, I was immediately on board.
In many ways, this documentary is the film version of her book "Game Sound", which is a historical account of game audio, from the early arcade days to current generation consoles and devices. Just like the book, the movie helps the audience understand how game sound came to be what it is today, and how the creative clichés of the field were many times shaped by technological constraints.
The medium's history is told by a series of interviews with key figures from the game audio scene. Yoko Shimomura (Street Fighter 2, Mana Series), Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), The Fat Man (The 7th Guest, Wing Commander), Marty O' Donnel (Halo), the Lucas Arts guys, and many other iconic composers all share their experience in shaping the field of game audio.
For game audio practitioners and fans, this movie is a must-see. Most of the field's prominent figures, some of which rarely speak about their craft, are there, telling their story. The movie also does a good job of documenting the game music scene as a whole.
There are a few minor shortcomings. The rhythm is somewhat slow and the movie feels a bit too long. Also, there could be more audio examples of the games and situations that are described, but I can only imagine the copyright hell that this would mean for such a small team.
All in all, the movie is an excellent account of video game audio history, and a labor of love. Karen has made the most out of a really small budget, traveled the world for interviews, directed and edited tons of material and ended up with a polished and professional product. Not bad at all for a person's first venture into film making.
If you have an interest in video game audio, do yourself a favor and go watch it NOW. If you're just looking for something like "Indie Game: The Movie", it's not that kind of narrative-driven documentary.
Karen has also made available lots of free webisodes that might give you a taste of the full length movie. Watch them at http://www.gamessound.com/movie.html.
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