Making of Arctic Awakening's Trailer Music

Joff Winks discusses his process for creating the music specifically for the Arctic Awakening reveal trailer.

Making of Arctic Awakening's Trailer Music

This is being cross-posted and was written by Joff Winks for his blog. Joff was the composer of the music created for the Arctic Awakening reveal trailer. The original blog post can be found here.

Sometimes the planets align, and the universe manages to find a way to connect you with like-minded, creative people.

One of those cosmic conjunctions happened to me recently when indie game developer GoldFire Studios contacted me to score the music for the reveal trailer of their latest video game Arctic Awakening.

Arctic Awakening is an episodic narrative adventure game. Set in the not too distant future, survivors of an aeroplane crash find themselves stranded in the remote Alaskan wilderness.

If you tuned in to watch the Future Games Show, perhaps you saw Arctic Awakening as part of the 2021 Spring Showcase.

The screenshots accompanying the brief for the trailer music grabbed my attention straight away with their stunning stylised realism, stark beauty and gorgeous colour pallet reminiscent of games like Firewatch or The Red Lantern.

The images were so evocative that I immediately had a direction for the music and instrumentation.

Acoustic Guitars would be a core ingredient of the sound pallet, as would flutes. For me, these instruments conjure the sound of northern indigenous folk music, where zithers and wooden flutes are prominent features.

I also wanted to capture the crystalline quality of the snow and ice of the Alaskan wilderness, and for this, I decided to use Glockenspiel doubled with Triangle and Cimbalom. The combination creates a bright metallic sound that sparkles atop the guitars and flutes.

Sci-fi elements such as the drone and installations are picked out with a few of my favourite synths - Yamaha’s amazing CS80, the ever-brilliant and adaptable Minimoog and Roland’s seminal synth, the Jupiter-8.

I made several drafts of the game trailer music to match edits made in the footage as it was gradually honed and refined and to incorporate feedback about the score from GoldFire.

I find comparing them a useful exercise and I’ve included them below for you to enjoy.

The first draft features a swirling swarm of flutes that flutter underneath the guitar theme. In this mix, I used a Minimoog for the bass pedal point.

I reworked the second half of the score for the next draft using flutes. A repeated melodic phrase played in three contrasting rhythmic settings between the bass, alto, and wooden flutes are layered and build to the final crescendo. I like this layering technique and find the resulting patterns very pleasing!

The third draft is a complete rewrite. It honours the spirit of the previous compositions but also develops new ideas. I recorded six guitars played slightly out of time to create the swarm effect of the earlier drafts. I also introduced the Jupiter-8, the distinctive sound adding character to the sci-fi undertones of the music.

I hope you enjoyed the trailer, and if you would like to support Arctic Awakening, please Wishlist on Steam.