Jim Welch interview

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
My name Is Jim Welch and I live in Dallas Texas with my wife, son, and cat. I currently work full time at FUNimation Entertainment as a composer and sound designer.

What is your niche or speciality that makes you stand out from rest of the audio professionals?
While I’m capable and have experience scoring film, trailers, etc. at my heart I’m exclusively a game composer. I am at game industry events and meetings multiple times a month, I’m a board member of the IGDA, and I passionately love the medium.

Additionally I came from a rock background, studied classical music in college, and now professional compose for commercial applications of extremely varying styles. This experience has forged me into an artist capable of composing nearly any style quite effectively.

Can you give us a brief summary of the equipment you use regularly?
Yikes I use so much that it would be hard to list it all! Well I can say as a general rule I prefer software over hardware when possible as I like the control of changing the sound of things over and over until I find the sound that is just right. Hardware sometimes can lock you into a sound when you record that cant be undone.

What are your go-to plug-ins and software? (virtual instruments, audio processing etc.)
I like to write music In Logic Pro and do sound design and Mixing in Protools 10. For instrumental and orchestral music I love Omnisphere and the East West Orchestral plugins. Im also a big fan of throwing tremolo and distortion on tons of stuff that wouldn’t normally have it. For sound design I love Freq Shift and Freq Warp. Another go to plugin is Comb Filter and Pitch Accum.

When do you find you are most creative?
Often right when I need to be doing something else! It seems at the end of my day I often will get a surge of ideas.

What is your usual process for creating audio content for games, films etc.?
I will first spend a ton of time with the source material. If I`m working on a film that means whatever rough cuts are available or even dailys and scripts. If it’s a video game I’ll look over concept art and design documents. If builds are available I’ll play those. Occasionally I’ll do outside research. For example if the game/film is set in a particular period I would want to know about all the nuances of that time and the appropriate sounds that people of that time would have heard.

Are there any particular secrets to your creativity?
Bull headed-ness! I tend to know how I want things in life so when I get my hands into a track I believe there is a right way to see it to its end.

Do you have any audio creation techniques that resulted in something interesting?
One day I stumbled upon using tremolo in a really extreme way (no smoothing, 100% depth). I was trying to fix a really sloppy accented rhythm. I now find myself using it all the time on acoustic instruments to get a really intensely accented rhythm that is somewhat synthetic sounding.

Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
One time I was working on music for a trailer that I was really excited about. I wanted to go above and beyond for this particular project so I created a few themes and proceeded to in an almost leit motif sort of way compose the trailer music weaving them in and out. What I found is despite the complexity of the work it wasn’t very effective. Of course I didn’t realize that until near the end as I wrote it at a piano and on manuscript paper before digitally orchestrating it. What I learned is first and foremost sound needs to “feel” right. The energy and tone far supersedes any intellectual depth or complexity. Sometimes making something simpler is the right choice.

Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
In general try and receive criticisms well. It will often seem wrong or unnecessary at the time, and while sometimes that is the case, most of the time the feedback will lead you to a product both you and the client are happier with.

Keep growing every year. Put together a new demo every year. You should hear a noteable improvement, especially in early in your career.

Network like crazy. Go to every industry event you can. It’s super important as this is a “who you know” type business.