Greetings, Kanobu users! Our guest today is Stanislav Polesko, a sound designer for Strategic Music. Let's get to know him better!
Hello, Stanislav! Please tell us about your job at Strategic Music. What do you do? The official site says that you design sounds, and Sergey Eybog is a sound designer, is there any difference?
Actually, a designer of sounds is a sound designer. :)
Initially, I was a composer for Strategic Music, then I started creating sound effects, and now I also work as project manager.
Can a person with no education get a job in a company dubbing video games? How did you get into this industry?
If we are talking about our company, our main requirement for the candidates is at least a musical college education. All of our staff plays some musical instrument professionally. Most of them have a sound engineer degree. It is very important that the person working in game dubbing is a real professional. Otherwise, he won't be able to make a quick decision, or determine which style to work in, or understand the customer's expectations. And it is very important to have good taste. All the members of our team know classical music well, they like playing video games, and they listen to movie and game soundtracks. It helps to understand each other quickly and to work efficiently in a team of creative people.
I've been playing videogames and listening to game soundtracks since childhood. My first soundtrack was for a 3d-shooter developed by my friends.
I've known about Strategic Music for quite a while, but I wouldn't dare to contact them, because I considered my knowledge and skill level too low to work for this company.
In 2009 I wrote to Dmitry Kuzmenko, passed a test, and, a few days later, we were sitting in a cafe discussing our plans for the future and my role in the studio.
What do you think is more cost-effective: having a team to work with sound for games or outsourcing this kind of work to companies like Strategic Music?
Everything depends on the skill level of these professionals, their experience or taste. If the company develops games in the same genre, with the same topic and atmosphere, then they should have very little problems with the voice acting. But what if each new project is completely different from the previous one and the sound staff can't always make the right decision?
We are often approached by developers that need music and sounds, despite the fact that they usually have an employee working on sounds.
Our company has extensive experience in dubbing video games. Over 11 years we have voiced over 500 projects in various genres on different platforms. For each new game we use our knowledge and experience to create a unique sound design and original music. If the developer is focused on a specific game and wants the sound just as cool as there, they can rely on us for the best results in little time.
The sound and music in the game are just as important as the graphics and mechanics.
And you can't just cut costs on them.
How important is client feedback? Were there any cases when you had to redo the final version of the dubbing because the developer wasn’t satisfied?
We communicate with the client at all stages of the work: staring with writing a technical assignment and finishing with submitting the project and releasing it. It is important to take into account all the requests and make the right decision together.
Sometimes we have to redo things. This can be avoided only by providing the executor with clear and competent tasks. It is also important to have some customer references.
Does Strategic Music work with foreign clients?
Yes, we work with clients from Europe, the US and Asia. Most of them are our loyal customers.
Please tell us some about working with sound. For example, there is a game about a bear. So, we go to a forest, record it roaring and put it into the game. Can we do that, or does the sound need some processing first? Can the same (processed) sound be used in several different projects?
For each new project we create a unique audio atmosphere – music and sound effects made exactly for that particular game. That's why we always use new sounds. Old sound effects are not reused in new projects.
Are there certain times of the year when there are more or less clients? Typically, how long before the end of development do the clients come to you? And how long before the end should they, ideally, do that?
Usually we get a lot of different orders before holidays: Halloween, New Year, Christmas, and various national holidays.
The clients usually contact us several months before the holiday. Sometimes we start working on a New Year-themed game in September.
Are there any ways to avoid repeating yourself in the works or is it inevitable?
Even the greatest artists repeat themselves. For example, J. S. Bach.
Repetition is fine. The point is – it shouldn’t have a negative impact on the quality of the new projects.
Creative work always involves inspiration. What if there is no inspiration, is there any way to make yourself do something? How do you treat these problems, if they arise?
Listening to good music, watching a great movie, or a walk through the beautiful city of St. Petersburg always brings inspiration.
I think, for many, Strategic Music are "the guys who did the Russian Dota voiceover." Let's talk about it. We know that you did the voiceover for at least two characters and a half: Pudge, Meepo and one head of the Ogre Mage. Which one you liked working on the most? For Pudge – why did you decide to replace your dubbing with Oleg Belov's version? And, finally, how often you participate in making a video game voiceover personally?
Actually I voice different monsters and villains quite often.
The Ogre Mage was quite fun to voice. As for Pudge, I think, Oleg Belov's tone suits him more. He is an actor of great talent and charisma.
Do you play Dota 2 yourself? How long? Do you have a favorite character or a character you'd like to dub personally?
I've been playing Dota 2 for several months, and my favorite character is Meepo.
I'd like to dub a lot of characters. So the greatest things are yet to come!
How many phrases, on average, does a character have? How long does the process of dubbing one character take?
There are a lot of phrases. Sometimes we bring 15 pages of phrases to the recording session.
Usually we can finish one character's voiceover in 1-2 days.
A recording session usually lasts 2-3 hours. Then we cut the recording into separate files with phrases and treat them with different sound effects.
Who in your team decided to take on such a big project? How did the other members react?
Dmitry Kuzmenko, our creative director, made this decision, and all the members of our team were really enthusiastic about it.
Will we hear a full acappella version of "Meepo, Meepo, Meepo-po-po"? :)
We are preparing a premiere of this song :)
Let's talk about you a bit? When did you get interested in music? Do you play any musical instruments?
I got into music when I was 10. I was a student of a musical school, specializing in piano performing, and wanted to become a composer. My parents gave me a tape-recorder as a gift, on which I recorded my first compositions. Later I took on guitar and drums.
At the moment I have 7 guitars in my collection.
When did you start playing video games? Have you played any new games? Which famous projects have especially great soundwork that you loved?
I had a Dendy console in 1993, and I used to be practically glued to it. I aimed to play as many games as I could. I'd get the cartridges by any means, exchanged them for anything I could... That's when I started paying attention to sound design.
I had no PC of my own, so I saw my first PC games when I was visiting my friends. Doom, Heretic, Duke Nukem 3D, and Warcraft 2 were popular back then.
I remember a game, Nitemare 3D. I was very impressed with the music in it. The composer of the game, David B. Shultz used elements of classical music in the soundtrack, and I was really interested in it. In the first level, your task is to destroy the monsters in a huge house, and in the background, a beautiful organ prelude and fugue plays. It was very cool, and that's when I understood that I want to be a composer.
As for modern games, I like the Silent Hill series. The sounds and music there are perfect. It’s one of my dreams to participate in creating the soundtrack for one of the new parts of the game, if our studio gets the chance. :)
The official site says: "Stanislav enjoys a good book and elite cognac after work is done". So, I have two questions: what kind of books do you like? And what cognac would you recommend? :)
Please tell us about your hobbies aside from your job, in general.
There was indeed a time when I'd participate in the tasting of French cognac. But, actually, I prefer a good green tea.
I enjoy historical literature. Books about Russian history and the history of Saint-Petersburg. My favorite author is Daniil Granin.
I'm also really into sports – I do swimming and cycling.
I'm interested in computer games development. I travel a lot.
What does your experience with working with Russian developers say? Is the Russian game development business still going through hard time?
I can surely say that Russian developers release a great amount of games for different platforms every year. And I'm sure it will only get better.
Do you read any game dev web sites? Do you follow the gaming world news?
Yes. I love indie games a lot, and I spend quite a bit of time on forums devoted to them.
Are you a console gamer? Or "Only PC, only hardcore"?
A: I'm mostly a PC and mobile gamer.
A tricky question (very important for all Russian gamers): PlayStation 4 or Xbox One?
Nintendo 3DS. :)
Finally, a few words for the users of our web-site, and for everyone who follows your work.
Games are a kind of art that is to be appreciated along with music and cinema. And I wish for you all to find something new for yourselves in it.
Lots of awesome things await our fans in the future! We'll try our best!
Good luck ;)
Stanislav, thanks for the interview!