Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Introducing Karel Antonín, Keen Software House & GoodAI Composer

This is a special post to give you a little more insight into a talented person I greatly admire: our very own Karel Antonín, composer of all soundtracks for Space Engineers, Medieval Engineers, Miner Wars, and GoodAI, my company of 30 researchers working to build human-level artificial intelligence.

Yes – GoodAI has a soundtrack. This post will also reveal a bit more about why we decided to become the only general AI development company with its own OST. We can only hope that others will follow in our footsteps :-)

We’re bringing you a full week of music from GoodAI, releasing five tracks per day for free over the next seven days. Enjoy the first set here!

And with that, I’m devoting the rest of this post to an interview with Karel, so he can tell you more in his own words.

Karel Antonín

What inspired you to make a GoodAI soundtrack?
Marek wanted to capture the aims and goals of GoodAI in a musical sense – he wanted to let people feel (through music) the amazing, positive future GoodAI is building under his leadership. Marek’s vision was the starting point for the whole project.

The music had to sound unique - very different from Medieval Engineers and Space Engineers. I composed the tracks without any orchestra, so everything was done purely through software synthesis. My musical inspiration included the works of Jean Michel Jarre, and generally a lot of other works incorporating sound design and unique digital sounds into music.

What emotions and future visions did you want to convey?
Emotion-wise, the aim of the soundtrack is rooted in Marek’s creative idea: to evoke positive feelings, especially the feeling of hope, and to evoke an endless universe of possibilities opening up before the listener. It should make you feel that there's something unique and groundbreaking approaching - since, in reality, that's exactly what is happening right now in GoodAI. Marek and I wanted the audience to get a clear vision of the emotional essence of GoodAI, even if they don't know anything about it, just by listening to the music.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a music composer?
I didn’t realize it until I was 16, actually. But I remember being very young and watching movies because I really liked the music - movies like Con Air, The Rock, Drop Zone, and others. The movies aren’t the best but I still really like the music. It took me a number of years to learn the software and technical side of things, and since about age 20 I’ve been composing music almost every day.

Do you have any formal education in music?
No, I don't. I am self-taught for the most part through lots of practice, though there are bits and pieces of knowledge I’ve grasped by reading a book or two.

Can you tell us a few basic facts about yourself?
I was born in Brno, Czech Republic. Now I’m 27 years old, currently living in Prague. I am planning to move to London sometime in the next three years. And then who knows? Maybe Los Angeles?

Do you play any instruments? Do you sing?
When I was very young I participated in children’s choirs – now I play the piano and guitar. I really enjoy playing every instrument I can get my hands on - even if, for the most part, it's just to make a proper racket :)

What projects are you working on at the moment?
Most recently I was working on Space Engineers (the new hour of music for Planets), and before that I was composing the score for GoodAI. My newest projects are the feature movies Taxi 121, Montenegro, XMas Cuts, and a motivational movie called Gravitation.

What does your work schedule look like?
My usual schedule starts with waking up around 9 a.m. - by 10:00 I’m sitting in front of my computer, working. I work until around 3 p.m., when I take a break for an hour to clear my head a bit. After that I continue to work until 7 p.m. or so. Of course, that’s usually not the end – especially when there's a tight deadline. There are some long work days without much sleep - but that's also part of the process that I love.

Do you play video games?
I played a lot of video games when I was younger and I still play some from time to time. If I don’t count Space Engineers or Medieval Engineers, I most recently played Metal Gear Solid 5. I also can't wait to play Detroit.

Do you work exclusively on music for video games (and now GoodAI)?
Now I compose mostly for video games, but also for movies and commercials. I try not to focus on just one project at time, because it’s actually better for me and the projects I work on to have some variety. I don’t want to get stuck in the same patterns when I’m composing.

What do you think music can contribute to a video game? How does the music affect the game-play experience?
It really depends on the project. But in all cases, the music should complement the project – it should portray things that cannot be elegantly said without it - by visuals or through dialogue and sounds.

Where do you get the ideas for the soundtracks you make for GoodAI and Keen Software House?
For me, composing for anything is mostly about finding the “heart” of the project – the one simple emotion that is the centerpiece of all other emotional qualities of the project. In order to do that, I get ideas mainly from talking with Marek about his vision, from seeing artwork, hearing the sound design, and also from talking with the team. The more information I get, the better.

Which musicians and/or composers most inspire you?
Oh, that would be a very long list. From top of my head it would be John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and John Powell. When I’m not composing, I’m listening to music. As soon as I leave this interview I’ll have headphones on and I’ll be listening to something. On my way here I was listening to Run All Night from Tom Holkenborg. And I still haven’t mentioned some important inspirations, including Ennio Morricone, Mark Mancina, Harry Gregson-Williams, Basil Poledouris, David Arnold, Bear McCreary, Lorne Balfe, and so many others.

Is there one project / track / song that you’re most proud of? Why?
Yes, I am definitely proud of my work for GoodAI. The idea of composing a soundtrack for artificial intelligence is something that was never really done before and that in itself is very intriguing. When you combine it with the treat of working with a very creative and focused team, it was an absolutely rewarding and great experience.

Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to add?
It’s always a pleasure working with both the Keen Software House and GoodAI teams – I can’t wait to see what they do next so I can make the music to go alongside it.

----

Thanks to all for reading! And many thanks to Karel Antonín for the interview.

Feel free to post more questions for me or Karel in the comments section, and don’t forget to keep following GoodAI and Keen Software House on social media!

Marek Rosa
CEO, CTO & Founder
GoodAI, Keen Software House
:-)

GoodAI on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoodArtificialIntelligence
GoodAI on Twitter: @GoodAIdev
www.GoodAI.com

Space Engineers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpaceEngineers
Space Engineers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceEngineersG
Medieval Engineers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedievalEngineers
Medieval Engineers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MedievalEng
www.keenswh.com

2 comments:

  1. Jean Michelle Jarre, yeah… “Horizon of Discovery” reminds me Oxygen 7.
    Soundtracks are good. You should use these in the videos with your company achievements.

    And, you should give Karel an assignment to put out his thoughts on Intelligence and music.
    Why do we love some music, and some don’t? What is the difference between first run-through of the composition, and next ones? Sometimes you have to take it many times to love it forever after, sometimes first one is enough to make it torture instrument :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your article on talented person is really a talented writing as you have delivered a nice information. I thank you so much for your excellent sharing. Carry on Joellen.

    ReplyDelete