Welcome to our latest Inside Crytek Interview, part of a series of interviews featuring different members of the Crytek team. First you can get up close and personal with them, and afterwards you get to ask the questions! To submit your own questions to today’s interviewee, simply post them under the link to the article on our Facebook page, GFACE, or MyCrysis. We will then forward the best and most original questions, and next week the answers will be posted online.
Today’s interview features Christian Schilling. Christian is from Germany and has been at Crytek since 2006. He has done a lot of audio design for different media projects and currently works as a Senior Audio Designer on Crysis 3.
Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?
I’ve been fascinated by videogames since I was a kid in the early 1980s. At the same time I am a big movie fan of classic blockbuster movies like Star Wars, Alien, etc. Around the mid 1980s I started to play with MIDI music composition on the Atari ST, and later I also released my own music on dance compilations and an arcade game called DanceDanceRevolution. By that time games were already looking and sounding fantastic and became more and more a mix of the two things I always found very fascinating – the interactivity of games plus the quality of movies. But first I had to collect more experience in the field, so I worked a couple of years at a movie and media sound studio, and studied A/V Media Design. With that experience I decided to become self-employed and worked on numerous media projects, until one day I read about Crytek and their first project, Far Cry. I played it and was blown away. They were looking for a Sound Designer after Far Cry and I knew this was absolutely the right thing for me. So I threw everything into it and soon I had my first contract job for a CryENGINE tech demo they were producing based on Far Cry, which needed sound design and music. That was 2004, since then I’ve been working with Crytek - first on a project by project basis, then it just made sense to join the company fully.
Crytek aims for top-notch design and technology, and it offers the creative space to do so. For a designer or artist who wants to create compelling game worlds whilst pushing the boundaries a bit further each time, this is definitely a great place to work. But it is also a nice place; people are friendly and it is a nice working atmosphere.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job is to see the faces of people playing a level or a scene A) before the sound was designed and B) after the sound is done properly. This is always at least an interesting experience. The worst part of my job is when I come into the office in the morning, and the coffee machine is broken… which doesn’t happen very often, thank goodness!
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re in the middle of main production to Crysis 3. We’ve just shipped a demo level that will be shown at E3 in Los Angeles. Then the production of the rest of the levels and cinematics continues.
What music do you listen to at work?
We audio guys can’t listen to random music while working, music is part of the job to a certain extent. So, we do research on music styles related to the games we produce, or talk to the composer to develop a strategy for the overall audio mix that includes 3 main elements: Dialog, sound effects, and music.
What inspires you in your work or in life?
People, books, movies, games, magazines, news… Talking to people about ideas can be very inspiring, because more brains can add more points of view to the same topic, which can be very fruitful. Of course there are movies and games that inspired me in my childhood and still have an indirect or even direct impact on my work. I was 7 years old when I saw Star Wars for the first time. This definitely had an impact on me, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m in the entertainment industry.
What types of games do you like, and what is your favorite game of all time?
I love RPG games and action adventures. Hard to name a favorite of all time, probably Monkey Island 2. But there are so many great games. I enjoyed Gothic and Fallout 3 a lot.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Playing with my kids, going to the cinema, barbeque in the summer, a good book, obviously playing games on my PS3, and writing.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to get started in the industry?
Work samples are the most important thing in my view, besides experience. Sound Designers: if you’re looking for a job in the games industry, you have to show exciting quality, or at least the potential. Grab a sequence of a movie or a gameplay video of your favorite game, erase the sound and do the sound effects from scratch yourself. If you come near the original or even top it, that could be your ticket into the industry. Same for music composers. In addition, show your knowledge about interactive sound implementation. If you don’t have any, do some research. Fmod or Wwize are tools you should definitely take a closer look at. Of course the more practice you have, and the more great material you can show on your reel, the more likely it is that a developer reacts to it. If you can afford to study sound, there are schools like SAE, Games Academy, Vancouver Film School, just to name some. Good luck!
Don't forget to submit your own questions to Christian by posting them under the link to the article on our Facebook page, GFACE, or MyCrysis!