Gamer Profile: Stephen Barton
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I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time. ~Stephen Barton
Name: Stephen Barton
Company: Afterlight Inc
Favorite Classic Game: Doom
Quote: I loved 3D Monster Maze on the Spectrum ZX, but Doom really reset the bar entirely. The soundtrack was awesome (especially given the resources available), but what really got me hooked was that it was the first game I ever played involving a network. That you could be on one computer and playing someone on an entirely different computer in a different room with just a null modem cable between the two, before we even had an internet connection – that was special, and way more so than just playing something like Solitaire – it was actually walking around a virtual world with another person walking around in it, and it was unpredictable. I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time.
Current Project: Titanfall
The rising expectations of gamers for an immersive, cinematic experience outpaces
even the demands on the highest grossing blockbuster movies, and composers are part
of a group of people finding themselves as much in demand in the game industry as in
Hollywood. Music is integral to the operatic scope of major video game franchises as it is
to the movies: the latest generation of composers must move freely between these two
worlds, understanding that in both the key element is serving the story.
One of the composers in this new group is Stephen Barton, whose principal scores
include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the upcoming Titanfall amidst an extensive
slate of movie and television projects.
A British native who moved to Los Angeles in 2001 at the age of 19 to write additional
music for Dreamworks’ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Barton worked with Harry
Gregson-Williams for seven years as a composer, programmer and orchestrator. Barton
had himself been a performer from a very early age, both as a singer and classical
pianist, but in these early years and then subsequently founding his own studio he
quickly became immersed in the technological side of music-making during a time where
electronic music moved from an influential niche to the dominant mainstream.
His personal tastes are as eclectic and omnivorous as his resume: his work in film has
coincided with a general shift from purely orchestral scores towards a palette more
representative of the music industry as a whole, requiring the composer to move,
chameleon-like, between the homegrown indie and the major blockbuster. “Wherever
there is a good story that you can be a part of telling, that’s where I like to be.”
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward perfected a genre that had its roots in
games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Barton provided the game’s cinematic score
which fused heavy electronic elements and unusual ethnic instrumentation (such as
hurdy-gurdy and numerous wind instruments) into the traditional cinematic orchestral
score. The game went on to be one of the most successful and influential first person
shooters ever made, selling over 14 million copies.
He has recently completed the score for indie darling Patricia Clarkson’s latest film Last
Weekend, and is currently working on the music for Titanfall, the highly anticipated first
game from Respawn Entertainment, a new studio founded by Vince Zampella, Jason
West and the majority of the original members of Infinity Ward. The game is to be
released in March 2014, but has already won over 60 “Best in Show” awards at E3 2013.
Other recent projects have included Disney’s Motorcity, a series with the animation
studio Titmouse with whom he has frequently collaborated, as well as scoring James
Cameron’s Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away for Paramount Pictures. These projects join a
diverse resume of over three dozen major feature films and video games to which he
has contributed music, such as Jennifer’s Body, Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven,
Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu and Man On Fire, Ben Affleck’s Gone, Baby Gone, and extensive
work on both the Chronicles of Narnia and Shrek franchises (for which he wrote a song
on the platinum-selling Shrek 2 soundtrack).