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The theme for Neptune’s Dynasty was really fun for me to put together. The idea was to create an epic vibe that’s on par with things like God of War, Skyrim or all of those classic Roman adventure films from Hollywood but make it a little less angry. But it is all about the god Neptune, after all. So it needed to have some “tidal” movement in there. The fun challenge was then trying to make it something that will work for a slot game. Check it out!

Wanna get in touch?

Let’s chat! https://madsenstudios.com/contact/

I’m always looking for more freelance work outside of my SGI stuff. If you think I may be a fit for your next project, let’s chat! I can do all kinds of things: music composition and production, recording remotely (saxophone and piano), mixing and mastering, implementation and testing as well as pre and post production work. I hope you enjoy this theme from Neptune’s Dynasty and please get in touch using the link above.

Who Am I?

Nate Madsen is a 13 year industry vet who’s worked in games, films, taught college courses and has performed and recorded in various settings on both piano and saxophone. He’s been with SGI for over two years and has been running Madsen Studios LLC since 2005. On the weekends he likes to be very still and watch the grass grow. And he’s considering taking up the bagpipes and really enjoys craft beer. He’s currently living in Austin, TX and his is favorite color is green.

This is the bonus track for Monopoly Community Chest and it was especially fun for me! I love mixing styles and genres together and this track blends elements of jazz, electronica, rock and even some 60’s organs. Everything was composed by me, I played all of the parts in with virtual instruments, and I played the live saxophones parts as well. I think it turned out great and hope you enjoy it!

You can go play Monopoly Community Chest and many other slot games at the Monopoly Slots page and app! Go check it out here – https://www.facebook.com/monopolyslots/

Do you need audio for your next project? Hit me up! 

Ouija: Board of Fortune is one of the recent slot games SGI released which features my music and sound design. So often I have to write in an upbeat, peppy, happy manner, so it’s refreshing when I get to take a stroll on the dark(er) side of things! The artwork has a very gothic feel with a supernatural undercurrent so I wanted my music to give a sense of foreboding, slight dread mixed with action. Check out the demo here: https://youtu.be/2vkiuic_U-8
My friend Logynn B. Hailey did the artwork and I thought she killed it! You can see more of her artwork here: https://www.behance.net/logynn-b-hailley. You can play the slot currently on the Goldfish App: https://www.facebook.com/GoldFishCasinoSlots/ and it will be out on other SGI casinos in the future.

Wanna get in touch? It’s easy!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow. He’s also quite fond of fancy beers.

In this video tutorial, I discuss how to address edit changes to the film after you’ve already begun writing music to it. While we’d all love to work to 100% locked picture edit but in many cases, that’s just not realistic. There always seems to be, at least, a few changes to the film. I chose to use the You Again web series, which I scored, as an example of using this workflow. I found it really helped and I hope it does the same for you. For more info on You Again go here: http://youagainwebseries.com/ and for more info on me and my work, go here: https://madsenstudios.com/.

Excuse the mic – I ended up using my webcam mic in this video. Even with clean up, it doesn’t sound as good as my studio mics do. Not making that mistake again! I hope you enjoy it!

Using Tempo to Add More Realism

One of the best ways composers can add more realism to their pieces is with tempo changes. This is especially true when writing for orchestra, big band, jazz combos and even certain rock songs. In this video tutorial I discuss how and why I use tempo changes to help make a piece feel more organic. I also detail how tempo changes may differ from a solo performance versus a large ensemble. The example piece featured in this video is War Upon The Sea which you can hear in it’s entirety here: https://youtu.be/BGMoxGkBHYU.

Of course this approach won’t apply to every style of music or every song. Experiment and see how these kinds of edits can help strengthen your song. Go make your tracks more organic and leave more space for your listener’s emotions! Put in some tempo changes where they make musical sense. It can make such a difference – even small changes! I hope that you find the quick tutorial helpful and please feel free to leave comments and feedback. I enjoy reading them!

Should you need custom audio for your next project, let’s chat!

Thanks!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Cedar Falls, IA. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

48 hours to make a film?!

During the summer, I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, hosted in Austin, TX. It was a blast! For those not familiar with the festival/contest, teams are given 48 hours to create, write, film, edit and produce a short film in 48 hours. To keep things interesting, all submissions had to work in:

– a character’s name
– a prop
– a certain line of dialog

Teams also had to genres randomly assigned to them and could pick which one they wanted to use. It’s a very fun, challenging and fast pace contest! Our film, Until Death Do Us Part, was nominated for eight awards and won four of them! Here’s my favorite music cue from this project:

The whole film should be released to the public soon. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t taken part in a 48 hour film project yet, do it! It’s so much fun.

Last weekend, Madsen Studios LLC took part in the 48 Hour Film Project, here in Austin, TX. It was a blast! I wrote music for the short film called Until Death Do Us Part, which is sort of a black comedy drama. For those that don’t know, this project involves drawing a genre (we drew adventure-serial) and had to work in a certain prop, character name and line of dialog. After drawing the genre, you have 48 hours (hence the name of the festival :P) to write, film, edit and post-produce the film. It’s quite the challenge! It’s also a great deal of fun.

Since music usually comes in late at the end of the production cycle, I decided to write a bunch of music to get the editing team as much to work with as earlier as possible. This was tricky because I was writing without any visuals, since the team was still writing and then filming. The last day, Sunday, was a fury of writing for me as we decided the film had changed tone and needed a new direction musically. I always love a challenge and am, overall, very happy with how things turned out.

Check out the poster and once the film is released to the public, I’ll definitely share it! Stay tuned!

Here’s the main theme to Of Love and Sorrow, a new game being developed and published by Niels Bauer Games. Madsen Studios LLC – an Austin, TX based audio company, was hired to compose the music for the trailer and the game itself. It was really fun to write the music for a civil war, text game. For this theme I wanted to capture the grand, epic conflict while also showing some of the more tender moments of the game. In a way, this piece harkens back to Civil War epic soap operas that I saw on TV as a child in the 80’s. Check out the music and the game, once it’s made live!

Please reach out if you need original music or sound design for your next project. I’d love to help out!

It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s time for a divorce… from your work. If you’re a freelancing or hired audio professional, that is. Too many times I’ve seen audio professionals, as well as folks in other disciplines, grow too attached to their work. This is a dangerous thing because it causes you to lose perspective and potentially over react when criticism/feedback is delivered. This can harm the collaborative effort which is vital to projects like films, video games and other multimedia. When we compose music or produce audio for a project, it’s NOT own our audio anymore. It belongs to the project.

It’s not about our personal feelings, tastes or bias.

It’s not about our own egos.

It’s not about our own preferred work flows.

It’s only about what content/methods would best serve the product.

I picked the title carefully because divorce is, from what I’ve been told, a very hard and personal thing to go through. Likewise, having your work criticized can be very painful and difficult. It can feel personal, even when it’s not meant to be. Divorce is also the act of detaching two things that were once very close to each other. When I’m doing work for a client or for an employer, I remind myself that I’m “divorced” from the audio. I put myself in a very different mindset than when I’m working on my own projects as a hobby. This enables me to better receive feedback from management and peers as well as objectivity look at my work and see how it’s lining up with the product’s designs and goals.

It takes practice.

This is a skill that can take some time to develop. My advice is to keep a cache of personal projects on the side where you can do whatever you wish, in whatever manner you wish to help satisfy that personal creativity. This way you can keep a part of “you” in your work and not feel like a drone and also be better prepped to fall in line with what your given roles are on a work-for-hire project or employer. Please notice what I’m not saying: I’m not telling you to sell yourself 100%. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be invested in work or be passionate about it. I’m not saying to give up your personal ideals or methods. That’s not healthy and odds are not why people hired you to make audio for them. They want YOU involved! But sometimes you do have to adapt and change your approach to better serve the project. If you’ve never been through honest feedback on your work, then I’d suggest putting your work online and letting folks from the professional audio realm review it. Many folks, myself included, will listen and gladly give our input. This works great because it’s not your friends or family listening and saying “sounds great!” even if it doesn’t. This is good, honest feedback from folks that should have the ears and skillsets to be able to distinguish what’s going great in your work and what could use some improvement.

Growing a thick skin.

My first real exposure to blunt, concise feedback was at FUNimation Entertainment, where I worked as a composer/sound designer in the Special Features/DVD dept. I would create the music and sound design, as well as edit and produce dialog from the show into a trailer for anime shows and films. We’re talking top tier anime work like Dragon Ball Z, Yu Gi Oh and such. Once the audio was done, I’d have a quick review with the brand manager, head of the video editors and sometimes even a VP of the company. Feedback was sometimes as brief as a few words:

“Love it!” “Doesn’t work.” “Hate it.” “Redo it.”

Then the folks would go back to their jobs and I’d be left making any needed fixes. That kind of environment forced me to grow a thick skin quickly. And you need a thick skin to be successful in this industry. It was at this job that I started the notion that any critiques were not personal in nature and were not directed at ME. They were directed at my work and how well it lined up with the product. This helped me better process and apply the feedback. In turn, this made me much better at my job.

Take a moment.

And the next time you feel yourself getting heated or protective of your work due to some criticisms, take a deep breath. This is creative work and therefore passions can play a large factor. Take a moment before responding and remind yourself – this is no longer YOUR audio. You’ve divorced yourself from it and instead, it’s the PROJECT’S audio. Do what’s best for the project. Hopefully everyone else on the team will be like minded and focused exclusively on what’s best for the project as well. Not always the case but one can hope!

Best of luck!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.

This post is going to talk about an unpleasant topic: unemployment. Better yet, how to survive unemployment. I’ve gone through this ugly phase twice in my life so far but both situations were very different from each other. The first time I was laid off myself and the second time (which happened earlier this year) my wife was laid off. Since I was a full time freelancer at the time, it impacted both of us very strongly. I’m not a pro at this type of thing but I have noticed a few things that helped me cope while doing the dreaded job hunt and I’ll list them out below:

Don’t go it alone.

This is not a time for the lone wolf approach. Yes, you might feel embarrassed and angry about your situation and the temptation may be to hide away from friends and family. Sometimes answering their questions of “are you okay?” “how are you doing?” “what’s your plan?” can be overwhelming. But this is the time when you’re going to need to lean on friends and family. If you’re a member of a church, lean on that community as well! This network of people will not only help give support in various ways, they may even help generate job leads! More on that in a bit.

Pace yourself.

The two times my family faced unemployment it felt very much like a marathon. It feels like a race where you have no idea where the finish line is or where you are on the track. Perhaps it’s a guy thing but I wanted to get the problem fixed in 2-3 weeks time. Heck, I sorta expected it! But the reality is most people find work in about 3 months or so. In my family’s experiences, the first job hunt took about four months and this last time it took three months. Don’t expect everything to be fixed by a certain date. You cannot throw everything you have at this problem 100% of the time. You’ll burn yourself out. You also can’t avoid it completely and pretend it will go away. So pace yourself by working on the job hunt for chunks at a time then relax by watching some of your favorite DVDs or playing a video game/board game/etc with a friend or family member. Trust me, you’re going to need some down time.

Cast a wide net.

Job hunting, especially in a flooded market, is very hard. So you might have to look at fields that orbit your skill set or look at moving to locations you’ve not considered before. Consider new options that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. If you have the time and resources, also consider adding new skills or certifications to your resume. Depending on your situation you might have to cast a wide net right away or you could search for your ideal job fit for a while. More on that later.

Keep a balance.

When my wife and I were facing unemployment the last time, our initial reaction was to cancel everything that wasn’t essential to our lives. We were, basically, in full on freak out mode. But after speaking with our financial advisor (strongly recommend you get one if you don’t already have one!) we realized some of those “extras” could really help us look for work. For example, our gym membership was going to be cut because we felt it was an extra thing. But as members we had 2 hour daily child care for our son at no extra cost. We realized that if we wanted to, we could drop him off at the gym daycare then use the free WiFi to surf for jobs and network in the gym’s cafe area. Plus we found going and working out to be a GREAT way to deal with the physical side of all of the stress unemployment brings into your life!

Pick your battles.

One way I deal with stress is by eating, honestly. And I told my wife that while we were looking for work, I wouldn’t police myself as strictly as I normally would. Now I’m not advocating just letting yourself go and gain a ton of weight. But I am saying the routine of your normal life when you were working probably can’t exist while you’re in unemployment. I knew that I would be stressed enough as is, so a few cookies here and there helped me cope some. Again, not advocating super poor health but let’s be realistic. When people are stressed they seek comfort and, to a extent, I think that’s okay to let some things slide when searching for work.

Maybe your thing was having a super clean house? It might be that only 2/3 of the rooms are spotless and one gets chaotic. Maybe the whole house does! Maybe you fall behind on some of your other chores. It could be anything! My point is to give yourself some extra grace during the period – you’re going through a lot.

Be careful with social media.

Just know that people ARE watching what you do. If you have a meltdown or a rant session, keep it with someone you trust and away from “printed” social media. That stuff follows you everywhere. Talk with someone who knows you and won’t think less of you if you’re letting off some steam. Too often I’ve seen people completely lose it on social media and this doesn’t help attract the kind of positive attention you want from possible employers/recruiters/peers.

Find fun things to do at little to no costs.

The web is filled with great lists of free or really cheap things to do! Give yourself some days off with your spouse/family and go do some fun things. This will really help get you refocused on the tasks at hand later.

Make a plan.

Earlier I mentioned getting with a financial advisor. When my wife was laid off, the first thing we did was meet with him and he talked us through our budget. This showed us our timeframe. He was excellent at giving us the large picture while also helping us see the tiny tasks we could do right then to help with immediate needs. We made a plan that for X amount of time we’d look for ideal jobs (i.e. jobs that were directly in our career paths and/or in locations we really wanted to live in). Then after that time, we’d expand our search out to include other jobs somewhat similar to our careers and additional locations. If nothing worked out in that time period, then we’d take whatever we could find just to make ends meet. All of these milestones were mapped out according to what our savings and resources could manage. Without a plan, you feel so hopeless and might make foolish decisions.

Ask, ask, ask!

In both instances where we were unemployed, the jobs we ended up getting were from friends in our network. Remember that earlier point about leaning on your friends and family during this time? It really does help. Don’t harass your friends and family daily but let them know about your situation. Ask around to see if they know of any openings.

Closing – Unemployment Sucks!

Unemployment is super scary and stressful. It sucks! But you can and will make it through. It may not be in the manner or timeframe you’d want but literally everyone I’ve seen go through unemployment has made it out alive to the other side. These tips above have really helped us and perhaps they’ll help you. Best of luck! Keep your chin up. Good hunting!

Bio:
Nate is an established composer/sound designer, based in Austin, TX. Aside from making various kinds of noises and music, he also teaches private lessons (saxophone and piano) and performs with live bands. On the weekends he likes to sit and watch the grass grow.