Project Cars 2

May 10, 2018

Behind the Scenes recording session

High Viz Media were commissioned by composer Stephen Baysted to document the recording of the music for Project Cars 2 – a leading racing simulation game.

The idea was to produce a 10 minute behind the scenes documentary piece to showcase Stephen’s compositions, the game's musical score and what is involved in a recording session of this scale.

Having worked closely alongside the London Metropolitan Orchestra for a number of years, our Project Coordinator, Ross, has a good understanding of what it means to be working in a studio environment. 

One of the most important aspects is knowing when to re-position yourself between each cue being recorded, whilst working silently and staying out of the way. You must not block the musicians’ view of the conductor – he is their visual cue. Anticipating when the red light is next going to turn on is the most important part of filming in a recording studio. Once that goes on, you don’t make a single noise. It is field knowledge like this that demonstrates High Viz Media’s deep understanding of filming in diverse environments.

The project involved three days’ filming – one at Stephen’s home studio in Chichester and two at one of the country’s top recording studios, Air Lyndhurst Hall. 

We filmed some interview material and footage of Stephen’s composing process at his Chichester home prior to the recording session, whilst at the same time discussing with him which one of the 8 scores would be the most musically interesting to focus on, incorporating the most musicians and musical elements possible. We decided to focus on three tracks for our 10 minute video. 

We arrived at Air Lyndhurst Hall for the first recording session with strings. During these sessions, we deployed a few micro-cameras in the control room and studio floor, positioned one member of crew with a Ronin Gymbal system in the control room and our Project Coordinator was out on the studio floor with a Sony FS7. 

We knew the order in which the scores were being recorded, so once the three we were particularly interested in came up, we had an extra focus to document these well. 

Typically, a score will be ran through about 4-5 times in full - the more the better for us! During the other scores we picked up a lot of non-synced shots that could be dropped into the edit anywhere, such as musicians close ups and shots of the studio environment. We also focused heavily on the relationship between Stephen in the control room and the musicians out on the studio floor, as we could cut this in nicely with all of the interview content we picked up. 

Day Two involved percussion recordings. This was a lot of fun however it posed its own challenges. We had Taiko drums, timpani and piano to record, and most of the work here would be syncing these drums up to the original score.  

Day Three involved the mixing process and a little bit of voiceover from the former Top Gear Stig, Ben Collins. We filmed Ben doing a few voiceover parts for the in-game menus, and after this Stephen sat down with the engineer and they spent the rest of the day mixing what they had recorded the past couple of days. 

This was a nice part of the session as the composer is usually a lot more relaxed at this point. They have got what they need in terms of recordings, and now the rest is just making slight adjustments to the mix.

After wrapping up the three days' filming, we imported all 700GB we had shot into Premiere Pro and began dividing out footage, and syncing up all of the relevant performances to the three tracks we wanted to focus on. The rest was taken for cutaway footage. We also wanted to heavily focus on the relationship between Stephen in the control room and the Orchestra out on the studio floor, so we spent a lot of time going through the control room footage to find nice bits of interaction there.

The end result of this project was a 10 minute mini-documentary that incorporates all elements of Stephen's work - from idea, to writing, to recording, and then to mixing. It was brilliant fun filming and editing this project, and the end result can be viewed here!

Ross Brown

Ross is an editor and camera op and comes from a musical background. He's as at home in recording studios as Abbey Road!

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