The Magic of Music: How Falcon’s Creative Group’s Award-Winning Sound Team is Creating Original Scores for Attractions
As immersive attractions continue to gain popularity at theme parks around the world, customized musical scores are becoming an important factor in creating a unique experience for park-goers. Falcon’s Creative Group has long recognized the importance of music in the design and creation of attractions and is bringing together talented award-winning sound designers and mixers to bring the magic of music to the world of theme parks.
Led by Director of Sound Rick Morris, an Oscar nominee, and Editorial Director Jesse Allen, a former Audio Director at EA Sports/Tiburon, Falcon’s Creative Group’s audio team brings a unique blend of feature film, TV and video game experience to the ever-evolving theme park industry.
From The Silver Screen to Theme Parks
Rick and Jesse’s rich backgrounds provide interesting insight into how creating soundtracks and effects for feature films, TV shows, and video games cross over to theme parks.
“In the film, you try to make it as immersive as possible, but, you have a much more controlled environment,” said Morris. “In theme parks, you have more of a challenge with ambient sounds, and equipment, etc. However, the quality that feature film and TV projects demand requires sound engineers to become really skilled, which, in turn, equips them to deal with the challenges of theme parks.”
The Growing Importance of Customized Score for Attractions
Anyone who is a fan of feature films understands that a soundtrack sets the mood and emotion for a scene and seeks to capture the audience’s attention. Over the years, theme park developers have discovered that music has the same power to transport audiences to new worlds on attractions. Additionally, music is a catalyst for establishing an environment and setting the tone for what the audience is about to experience.
Take, for example, Falcon’s Creative Group’s recent work on Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s “Heroes and Legends” attraction. To fully capture the epic journeys and stories of American space heroes, Falcon’s Creative Group enlisted the assistance of Hollywood composer Penka Kouneva to develop an original score that uses orchestral instruments with synthesized sounds to convey an otherworldly sense of emotion and adventure. Penka, who has worked in film for 17 years and video games for 6 years, conducted a full orchestra to create the score that is fully unique to the attraction.
“The fact that we custom-score all of our projects with major composers and a live orchestra isn’t just unique to our industry, it is unique to the TV and video game industries as well,” said Allen. “The scale of the music and sound production that we invest in every project is really outstanding. This is how sound is created for major motion pictures.”
Falcon’s Unique Audio Process
In order to create an original score, the Falcon’s audio team undergoes a thorough process that often involves selecting distinguished composers and working with world-renowned orchestras, such as the Seattle Symphony and Prague Symphony.
“We are very careful to select composers based on their strengths and focus areas,” Morris said. “A composer for one project may not be the right fit for another project, so we are sure to custom-fit the composer with the specific attraction.”
Once the right composer is selected, the Falcon’s team puts together a “scratch track,” or sample selection, of what the music should sound like, based on the emotional arc of the attraction. The scratch tracks are often built with stock music based on trending musical styles. From there, the scratch track is sent to the composer, who listens for elements like style and mood shifts to create a customized, unique track based on the samples.
Our relationship with the composer then becomes symbiotic, with ideas shifting and shaping the editorial component of the attraction. Ultimately, the music complements the dialogue, sound design and vice-versa.
Where is Theme Park Audio Heading Next?
According to Rick and Jesse, the future of sound at theme parks is firmly wrapped up in the future of theme park technology.
Traditionally, audio experiences are built for massive theaters and rides. Now, the Falcon’s team and other theme park developers around the world are starting to get into real-time 3-D audio, where positional space is tracked based on where a user is looking. This is starting to come to life in a massive way.
“Exploring the idea of fully-immersive, unique sound is already being done in the audio world with multi-array technologies,” said Allen. “When it comes to theme park attractions, you can actually have the narrative and the sound effects playing from specific speakers while the instrumentation is spread out across multiple speakers, so it feels like you’re sitting in an orchestra. That’s truly immersive.”
“I can start spreading 40 tracks of music around through a venue. You might place small drums and percussion above you, then big drums down low, then add strings and brass – it starts to envelope you.” Morris said. “I always deal with music first, because that’s the foundation. The music is what’s going to draw you in, and guides you through the narrative of an attraction. It’s the tone-setter, and with music at the forefront, we sound engineers are pivotal in the flawless execution of these world-class attractions.”
To learn more about Falcon’s Creative Group’s audio team and capabilities, visit: https://www.falconscreativegroup.com/en/services/sound-production/