HOLLYWOOD — As it marks its 20th anniversary this year, Hollywood-based Soundelux Design Music Group (“DMG”), which creates sound for games, commercials and location-based entertainment, has plenty of reason to celebrate. It’s coming off a year in which it worked on several of the video game industry’s biggest releases, including Microsoft/Epic’s Gears of War 3 (a Golden Reel Award and G.A.N.G. Award nominee) and Activision/Toys for Bob’s Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure (also a Golden Reel Award nominee). The group also recently received a Golden Reel Award for the Electronic Arts title Need for Speed: The Run, adding to the multitude of awards and nominations it has received for its game work. And, it is ready to open a second production facility on Los Angeles’ Westside.
But don’t expect the Company’s expert team of sound designers, composers, and mixers to spend much time blowing out candles. They are much too busy inventing the next generation of game sound. “While DMG’s roots are in film sound, we love video games; we are gaming people,” says Scott Gershin, the Company’s founder and Creative Director. “We have been successful because we are always pushing the envelope in terms of quality, product and service.”
DMG is arguably the most accomplished independent sound company in the video game industry, but its current dominance would have been hard to predict back in 1992. At that time, games were just beginning to add production value through improved graphics and better sound. “We had an idea to apply the art of sound design to other media,” Gershin recalls. “Companies in the game world were interested in adding quality sound to their games and we saw a chance to get in on the ground floor.”
Shortly after its launch, the Company landed its first client, the then new game company Activision. DMG produced sound for several early Activision titles, including MechWarrior II, Pitfall – Mayan Adventure, Spycraft and Zork, all of which became runaway hits and earned particular praise for the quality of their sound. Over the years, DMG has contributed to some of the video game industry’s biggest franchises—Quake, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, God of War, Rainbow Six and Resident Evil.
The versatility and consistency of its staff has helped the Company weather the inevitable ebbs and flows of a young and growing industry. “DMG has been fortunate to find very savvy and talented people,” Gershin says. “And it has grown one person at a time based on the needs of our clients—and they are constantly trying to raise the creative bar.”
The Company’s entry into voice recording came about in typical DMG fashion—serendipitously. As Gershin explains, the Company’s sound designers had for a long time made a practice of recording their own voices to produce sound effects. As they needed more diverse characters, they began to recruit additional staff, friends and family. When they needed specialty voices, they turned to the acting community. Soon they were hosting full-blown voice-over sessions with celebrity talent. The Company’s Santa Monica-adjacent facility is being added to accommodate clients who live and work in that area.
“The success of our business has been, in part, based on our ability to adapt to the needs of our clients,” says William “Chip” Beaman, DMG’s Manager of Voice Over and Talent Services. “The opening of our DMG Westside facility will serve those clients whose busy schedules and impending deadlines make it difficult to travel to Hollywood in horrendous L.A. traffic.”
Gershin believes DMG has succeeded not only because it has done great quality work, but also because it has evolved as the video game industry has evolved. He points out that the technology used to create games changes fast and DMG is constantly upgrading and adding to its arsenal of gear to remain a step ahead.
“We are looking forward to future advancements, particularly in the area of implementation,” he says. “Technology helps us create more immersive sound to enhance the illusion experienced by gamers.”
Gershin also credits the shared sense of purpose and family-like atmosphere that has taken root among DMG’s staff for the Company’s success. It is a place where people arrive at work eager to take on whatever challenges may appear. “I am proud of the work DMG has accomplished,” he says. “DMG has added to the overall quality of audio and has contributed to making the interactive industry one of the most successful forms of entertainment today. That is perhaps the Company’s greatest accomplishment.”
About CSS STUDIOS, LLC
Hollywood, California-based CSS Studios® is a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), CSS Studios provides creative post production sound services to major motion picture studios, independent producers, broadcast networks, cable channels, advertising agencies, interactive producers, video game companies and location-based entertainment. The services of CSS Studios are marketed under the brand names Todd-AO®, Sound One, Soundelux®, POP Sound®, Modern Music, Soundelux Design Music Group and The Hollywood Edge, with facilities in Los Angeles and New York.