ELIAS, EMPOWERING COMPOSERS

Video Game Composers rejoice! ELIAS, an inspirational and intuitive middleware solution is here, making our jobs as Composers more satisfying and rewarding, as well as taking the pressure off of our Programmers to implement our music within the game.

When speaking of middleware, most of us would automatically think of FMOD and Wwise, two solutions that are brilliant, but very involved and take a significant amount of research to begin using using (not to mention the price-tag for the licensing). For Indie Game-Studios, budgets are often quite small (if you even have one at all!) so a cheaper alternative is often needed. ELIAS does not charge for licensing until your game makes 1,000,000 USD, so for start up companies that need adaptive game audio, this is the most logical solution.

For a demonstration, I have prepared an ELIAS session for you.

25_03_16_ACOUSTIC_ELIAS_EXPORTS

If you do not already have ELIAS installed then CLICK HERE for the free download. If you prefer not to install ELIAS at this stage, that is fine, I will be demonstrating and explaining what is happening within the program, so keep reading if you are interested in this adaptive audio engine!

HOW DOES ELIAS WORK?

ELIAS works by using Loop-Tracks that have a series of Triggers assigned to them.

Loop-Tracks with Triggers
Loop-Tracks with Triggers

The numbers you see in the picture above are triggers, these are points in which ELIAS commands the game’s audio to change, or as I prefer to think of it, adapt. For this demonstration, I have used one Loop-Track, an Acoustic Guitar, in later demonstrations, I will show you how to use multiple Loop-Tracks for maximum effect.

By setting the Time Signature (Meter) and Tempo, ELIAS can make transitions between the Triggers, without having to fade in or out. This feature is what makes the program fun and opens up the possibilities for adaptive audio.

Set the Meter and Tempo
Set the Meter and Tempo

Set the Meter and Tempo the same as the DAW session you have created the music in. For this demo, I used Pro Tools to record the music, with a Tempo of 110 BPM and 4/4 meter. You will notice that there is a setting for Bars, set this to the length of the loop you are using, for this session I had a loop of 16 Bars.

Set the Bars to the Loop length
Set the Bars to the Loop length

CREATE YOUR MUSIC IN YOUR DAW

Being Middleware, ELIAS does not create any music, you will need your preferred DAW. I use Pro Tools.

Pro Tools session of the Acoustic Guitar
Pro Tools session of the Acoustic Guitar

Think of each Trigger as a section in a song, looping over and over until our player advances in the game, triggering the next section of the song. You need to think of this while composing, so nothing sounds disjointed or abrupt when making the change. For this demonstration, I have a loop that is 16 bars long, so each Trigger will be 16 bars. Within this 16 bar loop, I have phrased the music in 4 bar phrases, this is because I have set the “Agility” function to 4 bars. Agility is the amount of time it takes before ELIAS will change to the next Trigger. By keeping the Agility to 4 bars, the music will change without sounding disjointed, as well as changing quick enough to react to the players movements.

Above is the first trigger. Export the Trigger from Pro Tools and label it something that you will recognise when importing it into ELIAS. You will notice I have used G1, which I recognise as “Guitar, Trigger One”. ELIAS loops the track seamlessly as long as you keep the reverb tail, so I usually keep 2 bars at the end of each Trigger. OK, keep going with your song, recording the next segment.

Notice how this process is not just chopping the whole song into segments, it is recording each segment separately, then joining them together in ELIAS. Repeat this method for the remainder of the Triggers you wish to use.

Nice one, we have our Triggers recorded and and Exported from Pro Tools and now it is time to bring them into ELIAS.

Drag the Exports to the corresponding Trigger
Drag the Exports to the corresponding Trigger

Simply drag the Exported .wav files onto the corresponding Trigger in ELIAS. Once the Triggers are all where they should be, the next step is to open the ELIAS Player by pressing F5 (or finding it in the Theme Menu).

ELIAS Player
ELIAS Player

The function in the player we are looking at today is the “Level”. Level corresponds to the Triggers, so by adjusting this level, the Triggers will change to adapt the gameplay. If you have downloaded the demo session, you will notice when changing the Level, a little arrow spins around beside where Level is written, this is indicating that ELIAS is about to change the Trigger. Remembering that I have set the Agility to 4 bars, you will find that the music will only change on bar 4, 8 and 12. By composing the music to 4 bar phrases, the change sounds natural.

This concludes the first demonstration of ELIAS, I suggest having some fun with the session and experiment with changing the levels at random to make “your own song”. I have also transcribed a Bach prelude (BWV999) that uses the same techniques used in todays demonstration and can be downloaded below.

15_03_16_BACH_EXPORTS

Thanks for reading and stay creative!

 

2 thoughts on “ELIAS, EMPOWERING COMPOSERS

  1. Hi Sam, ELIAS looks like a very useful tool for game audio. After reading your blog I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of incorporating the idea of key modulation in conjunction with the ELIAS middleware. It is well known that composers use different keys and key relationships to evoke different moods etc.. so my thought was how would this idea fit within a platform that changes according to the play of the game (game audio!).
    Thinking of this I started considering some of the tools used by composers such as the idea of secondary dominants (using the 5th chord of the new key to activate the modulation).
    Unlike composing music only now the challenge arises of fitting this into a changing platform with bar limits etc.. As suggested in your blog having some versatile transition material seems to be the KEY!!
    Rough idea:
    First subject group in Cminor (used until triggers for music change is reached).
    Transition material type progression for modulating to Major:
    – Cm – Dm – D7 (Secondary Dominant) – G (chord 5 in Cm or chord 1 GMaj).
    Transition material for modulating back to Cmin:
    G – Gmin (5th chord of Cmin) – Cminor (home key).

    Like and altered sonata form for gamers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW! Thank you for such an informative and insightful comment, reubpress! I’m sure the crew at ELIAS would love to hear more theoretical suggestions like this. Being new software and seeing that adaptive audio is still in its infancy, game composers need all the concepts they can get to propel the new medium to dazzling heights. Needless to say, your comment has inspired me and I am in Pro Tools right now, composing some concepts, using your example as a test. Love the “KEY” pun too! 🙂 Thanks again for commenting and I will blog about the results as soon as I have it working! Please feel free to share anymore ideas you may have and if you have the time, why not download ELIAS yourself and get some compositions of your own happening, with the depth of your comment, I’m sure you would have no trouble putting these concepts into action. Stay Creative!

      Like

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