Certainly one of the most exciting projects I’ve had the great pleasure to have worked on. From dialogue sound capture at the 4A games studios and field recording in both Kiev, and Malta, to full score-writing and production, sound edit, and full mix, it’s been one wild ride.
The primary asset is a three-part behind-the-scenes documentary series titled “The Making of Metro Exodus”. In this documentary, members of the creative and executive departments share their five-year journey, undertaken by a 150-person team, and developed collaboratively across two countries. We gain remarkable insight into the challenges and camaraderie involved in producing a AAA game for a global multi-platform audience.
Inspired by the novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Exodus is a stunning, first-person shooter set in post-apocalyptic Russia, with a level of detail and depth that is simply breathtaking.
Whilst I’ve followed the franchise with interest over the years, with Exodus and the filming of this three-part documentary I very quickly realised just how special and singular this event, game, and film series actually was. Occasionally, I get to work on something where there are moments when it doesn’t feel like work at all, and that’s certainly the way I felt whilst listening to all the contributors talking about everything from the company’s fascinating history, to the bespoke game engine, weapons, characters, environments, sound design, and the challenges of QA.
The creative brief for this production required interview filming on-location within a studio in the midst of live development. This was done so as to communicate the reality of active unfiltered work in progress, but of course has implications on dialogue recording outside of a closed, controlled environment. The rooms within which we filmed were typically noisy and reverberant, and so I spent quite some time tempering those issues during post-production. The at-desk interviews also required careful reduction of background noise and speech. I opted for a hidden lav-mic approach in order to support the fact that what was being created here wasn’t a marketing asset, but an honest behind-the-scenes exploration into the team and their story.
There were also some fantastic opportunities whilst filming to create and capture sound design elements in some incredible abandoned buildings. These were veritable playgrounds with broken down lorries, echoing chambers, and countless different materials strewn around for creating bangs, clangs, scrapes, smashes, and thuds.
The cavernous buildings had a real beauty about them, something which 4A illustrate so beautifully within their games. Travelling around between shoots, it was a delight to take-in the wonderful locations. Malta is beautiful, vibrant, and has such a rich and fascinating history, but it was perhaps Kiev that truly stole my heart.
The documentary is in three parts, each exploring different elements of the game’s development. I composed six individual pieces for episodes two and three, all very much in the ‘Metro’ style and each inspired by individual characters and elements from within the game itself, and indeed the team at 4A. Remaining true to the sound of Metro was of the utmost importance, and whilst there are clear and firm nods to the Eastern European culture, any kind of cliche was strictly avoided. The pieces were met with a tremendous response, so much so, that 4A games wished for them to be used within the game itself and/or future DLC’s – a huge honour that’s rarely bestowed.
In addition to the ViDoc series, I also had the opportunity to sound design and mix a five-part series exploring the incredible, customisable arsenal of weapons featured in Exodus. Each VO-led installment blends 4K gameplay capture with high-end CGI animation to delve deep into the features, options and impact in each weapon’s class – from humble handguns to unique Metro-made creations hewn from post-apocalyptical salvage. It was an absolute bombastic blast! And the community reaction has gone through the roof.
The game is set for release on February 15th, for PC, XBOX One, and PS4.
So, if you need me, I’ll be out wandering the wastelands with my Geiger counter.