Justin Burnett Interview - Composer for MGS3

Music4Games: For the benefit of those not already familiar with your work, can you please tell us about your background and previous credits?

Justin Burnett: I grew up and went to school in Oklahoma, where I studied music and received my BA. From there I spent 5 years as the assistant to Hans Zimmer working with him on all of his projects from 95-2000. During that time I completed two features and two television series and went on to work on my own by scoring Dungeons and Dragons in 2000 and moving on to pursue work with Harry Gregson-Williams and with a music house called Musikvergnuegen.

M4G: How did you get involved with writing additional music for the highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater?

JB: I have worked with Harry Gregson-Williams on several projects and initially started working with him on Metal Gear Solid 2. Whenever Metal gear Solid 3 came around it was a natural choice that we would work together again.

M4G: How much music have you composed for the game and where will it appear - in-game, trailers and/or cinematics?

JB: I composed close to half of the music for the game. I am not sure as to where it is going to appear in the game as we have been near the front of the overall process, so we really delivered specific moods to them.

M4G: Similar to MGS2, Harry Gregson-Williams is reportedly scoring the music for the cinematics in the new game. What was it like collaborating with your Media Ventures colleague on this project and how much did you play off of one another, if at all?

JB: We have played off quite a bit. Often, one of us will start an idea and the other will take it in another direction completely or just keep producing and adding until we are happy with where it ends up.

M4G: Were you able to build on the musical themes and working methods Harry & Konami established in the previous games, or did you approach it as a brand new experience?

JB: We used a lot of the themes and style of the first experience. With the evolution of technology and loops, the music has naturally changed with the times.

M4G: MGS composer Norihiko Hibino is also reportedly scoring the in- game music; tracks such as "Infiltration Into The Jungle," "Escape" and "The Treading Behemoth" -credited to Hibino-san - have already been released on the Internet. Did you have any contact/dialogue with Hibino-san or TAPPY, the creator of the original MGS theme, before or during the creation of your tracks for the game?

JB: No, unfortunately I have not had the pleasure. These past two times, his role has been played after we play ours.

M4G: Can you give us a brief overview of what it was like working on a day-to-day basis with Konami on this project? How did the writing and submission process work? Were you required to write/edit any interactive music?

JB: We were given a list of styles of music they wanted to pursue for different parts of gameplay. There was usually a written description of what type of scene this would be for and a length to shoot for. We have been involved before any animation would be ready for us to score, so we usually produce the original track, submit, discuss, change, mix and then deliver.

M4G: Is this your first game-scoring project? If so, how do you think it compares with scoring music to film?

JB: This is my second game-scoring project. It is similar in style to scoring music for film, but the process is quite different. Games are much more pre-scored than post-scored.

M4G: What are the incentives and rewards for a film composer such as yourself getting involved with a game soundtrack?

JB: It is always a great experience to pursue different mediums for music composition. The more experience one can attain the better in my opinion.

M4G: We would imagine that even a huge-budget game such as Metal Gear Solid still has a soundtrack budget that is a fraction of what you are currently used to working with how does this affect the overall results?

JB: Ultimately, constrained budgets will always limit the ability to hire musicians and produce the soundtrack on the type of scale that one might like to, but the Metal Gear projects have been good projects in this manner and although we may have not been able to hire full 100 piece orchestras, we still have been able to produce soundtracks that are well produced.

M4G: Have you been tempted to take on any other game soundtracks as the result of working on MGS3?

JB: Very much.

M4G: What other projects are you currently working on that you can tell us about?

JB: Currently I am working on one film score and beginning to look at another for the coming year. I worked again with Harry on Man on Fire and have enjoyed that immensely. In my pursuit in working with other mediums I have also worked on and completed several commercials and Network Packages that have been rewarding.

-- Interview by Rusty James, Music4Games.net

Get Connected and Share

Fan Metal Gear Solid - The Unofficial Site on Facebook Follow Metal Gear Solid - The Unofficial Site on Twitter Watch Metal Gear Solid: The Unofficial Site on YouTube
Share: http://mgst.us/HsR