Winifred Phillips Skillfully Mixes Music with Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Video Game
There’s no doubt that Winifred Phillips skills are a gift from God. The interview below can’t do our conversation justice, but it’ll give you a small look into the lives of one of the few females working behind the scenes in the video game industry.
Shelia Goss: How did you get involved in composing music for video games?
Winifred Phillips: I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. I’d been an avid gamer as well, but I hadn’t ever thought that much about the music in videogames before. It was when I played the first Tomb Raider video game that my attention was caught by how good the music was, and the idea of writing music for videogames occurred to me for the first time. First time the idea came to me, it was exciting. It was an electric moment to be able to combine the two things that I love. It’s like a guilty pleasure.
Shelia: Besides Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, what are some of the other games you’ve composed music for?
Winifred: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is my second game. God of War was actually the first one. It’s about a Spartan warrior named Kratos on a quest to kill the god of war, and it takes the player on a wonderful trip through an ancient world. I enjoyed doing music for this type of game. I did a lot of singing for the game. The developer asked me to perform the singing voice of the Siren character in the game, and I performed the track a cappella. It’s very soprano. Players have to follow the voice and sound of the siren. It was amazing to be able to create music that was essential to the mechanics of gameplay. I was thrilled.
People who are captivated by the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory movie will be happy to know the game uses the same flavor and environment shown in the film. Tim Burton, the director of the film, was also involved in the game. He approved everything I wrote.
Shelia: Besides composing for video games, what other type of compositions do you do?
Winifred: I’ve composed for National Public Radio. Radio Tales are classic tales adapted for the radio. Each drama is sixty minutes long, and there were over fifty dramas in the series. I composed music for some of the classics like Odyssey, Arabian Nights, etc. Odyssey was three hours long. I had to do research on ancient music. In radio, the music is telling the story right along with the voice performances. The music has to tell an emotional story and relate something to the listener that they can’t get visually since it’s radio.
Radio Tales is on Sonic Theatre on XM Radio, Channel 163 on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sundays.
Shelia: How long does it take you to compose?
Winifred: For Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, I created over 70 tracks and it took four months from start to finish; which is a quick schedule for creating music for that type of project. It equates to sixty minutes of music in the game. If you’re asking how long it takes to compose a single piece of music, that depends on the complexity of the track. For a full orchestra and/or choir it takes longer than for a simpler arrangement of instruments.
Shelia: What advice would you give young ladies who want to follow in your career path?
Winifred: The video game industry is primarily a male dominated industry. It’s tough for women because there’s still the sense that the games are predominately created for a male audience. You have to be aware that there will be obstacles but not let them stand in the way.
It’s important to maintain connections with people and nurture those relationships. I go to a couple of industry conferences a year because it’s an opportunity to meet people. There’s nothing like having a chance to see your peers face to face.
Shelia: What’s a typical day like for you?
Winifred: If I’m in the middle of a project, I wake up, have breakfast, go to the studio (which is in my home) and work on whatever assignment that’s been given to me by the developer. Sometimes I’m given video footage, so I review it beforehand. Writing music makes the day go by fast.
In between projects, a typical day for me, would be reaching out to my contacts in the industry. I like talking with people in the industry. It’s good to be able to exchange ideas and keep updated on what’s going on.
Shelia: If your life was a reality TV show, what would it be called and why?
Winifred: (Jokingly)…sitting at a keyboard all day long wouldn’t make for exciting TV. (Titles) How One Looks From the Back or The Pajamas of My Life or How My Chair Squeaks When I Sit.
Not saying my life isn’t exciting because it’s internally exciting. (As a writer, I can relate to Winifred).
Shelia: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Winifred: I’m a member of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT). It’s a great organization and gives women the opportunity to share their goals and talent with each other. I’ve been an AWRT Gracie Award winner four times. It’s something I’m most proud of because of the barriers I had to break through.
Shelia: What projects are you working on now?
Winifred was not at liberty to answer this question. Out of respect, I didn’t press the issue, but as a person who loves to play video games, I sure wanted to know (smile).
While I was listening to the cd for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, I couldn't help but be drawn to the game. To be able to time the music to go along with the game movements is brilliant.
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