Game world: (From left) Au Yeong, Hamauzu and Wee watching a music video in the studio.
PETALING JAYA: Two Malaysians have scored one of the top jobs in the video game music world by contributing to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the long-awaited finale of the epic series' 13th installment.
Known for its intricate storylines and absorbing gameplay, Final Fantasy is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, with over 100 million units sold since its inception in 1987.
“Falk” Au Yeong Khai Meng, 30, and Alvin Wee, 25, recorded and mixed the soundtrack for Lightning Returns, working with Video Game Orchestra (VGO) producer Shota Nakama and composer Masashi Hamauzu.
Being a hardcore fan of the series, Au Yeong was thrilled by the opportunity.
“I know an almost hilarious amount of trivia when it comes to video game music. I have countless albums from games I’ve never even played,” said the Berklee College of Music graduate.
Hamauzu, the composer of Final Fantasy XIII and lead composer of Final Fantasy XIII-2, wanted to do the soundtrack with VGO, with Nakama orchestrating the pieces for recording.
Au Yeong advised Nakama on the technical side of things. The task was made even more daunting by the franchise’s heritage.
“There are many big video game franchises out there, but there is only one Final Fantasy. Its musical legacy is quite unique, to say the least, with a decades-old, almost reverent worldwide reach,” he added.
The team received Hamauzu’s music about a month before the planned recording dates, which kick-started Nakama’s orchestration work and Au Yeong’s preparation for the sessions.
“There were about 70 to 80 minutes of music for us to record. We also had to mix everything we recorded and deliver finished mixes,” said Au Yeong of the complex process.
As for Wee, the project came as a shock when Au Yeong roped him in as assistant engineer.
“I spent a considerable amount of my youth playing video games and the Final Fantasy series itself.
“When Falk invited me over to his laboratory to check it out, it took me about five minutes to register what I saw and heard. I sat there speechless,” said the Berklee student.
“The visuals are stunning,” he added.