Pyramind Studios provided audio direction for Zynga’s recent hit, Looney Tunes Dash, including an original musical score, sound design and voiceover production. In June 2014, Pyramind was presented with a challenge by members of the audio team at Zynga to create a driving cartoony musical soundtrack for its upcoming title, Looney Tunes Dash™ that pays homage to the classic Merry Melodies scores by composer Carl Stalling.
The challenge was to take Stalling’s cartoony, gestural style composed for linear cartoons in the 1940s and 50s, and spin it into a continuous, driving musical style suitable for a contemporary action video game. Scoring a prototype level, Pyramind demonstrated how this could be done with a musical style that was driving, bouncy, and fun, and fit the picture seamlessly. Zynga was so pleased with the result they tasked Pyramind Studios to head up all audio on the project, including all dialog, music and effects – a perfect assignment for the all-in-one Pyramind audio solution.
In Looney Tunes Dash, you play Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck in a fun, hazard popping three-lane course over hill and dale, (in line with such games as Temple Run™ or Subway Surfer™), chased by the menacing likes of Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, and Yosemite Sam. Cameos abound, including Porky Pig, the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian and more.
Pyramind’s production manager Mike Forst worked with Zynga and Warner Bros. to cast and produce the voiceover – no small feat covering such a colorful cast of characters originally voiced by genius Mel Blanc. There were over 1000 lines of dialog recorded with leading Warner Bros. approved talent in Los Angeles including Jeff Bergman as Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety and several other characters, Laurie Fraser as Granny, Witch Havel and Miss Prissy, and Bob Bergen as Porky Pig. Says Mike Forst, “Having this opportunity to work with some of the most talented voice actors, doing some of the most memorable characters of all time, was a dream come true.” Post-production included editorial and creative DSP and pitch shifting carried out by Pyramind Studios.
In addition to dialog, a song was written and produced for Bugs, and one for Tweety – actors sang to a reference track in a lower key to compensate for the subsequent pitch raise in post. Mike continues, “It was a pleasure to work with Zynga to accomplish their classic yet contemporary vision of this game’s audio”.
Sound effects, like the music, were punchy and zany and had to strike a balance between classic effects of original cartoons and a stylistic blend suitable for a contemporary video game. Pyramind sound designer and composer Jeremy Garren recounts, “We needed to update and remix the classic sounding cartoon effects for the modern gaming space, striving to keep sounds simple to resonate with the origins of the genre, while maintaining a pleasing subtlety that wouldn’t fatigue listeners through repetitive playback”. With plenty of Looney Tunes type impacts, explosions and character sounds, including a number of authentic effects provided by Warner Bros., a host of new sounds specific to gameplay needed to be created in a consistent style.
An adaptive musical soundtrack was produced by Pyramind composers Clint Bajakian and Jeremy Garren consisting of several looping and non-looping segments that were tied to specific path changes and special events in the game. When Bugs takes a turn down the “expert path”, for example, the music shifts into a more zany, breakneck pace cueing more danger and action, or when Daffy slams into a tree, the listener is treated to a characteristic “wah-wah” demise stinger so iconic in Stalling’s scores. Bajakian remarks, “this is some of the fastest and funnest music I’ve ever written – forget ‘jaunty’, the stuff is downright frenetic!” Leading off the levels are theatrical cinematics featuring songs, dialog, sound and music strongly reminiscent of the original Looney Tunes cartoons.
“Working with the Zynga director Michael Waite, producers, audio team, and the audio team at Eat Sleep Play was a blast. The collaboration was made so much more enjoyable by hilarious subject matter”, says Bajakian, “I mean, discussing the logistics of Yosemite Sam’s oil drum hazard, Elmer Fudd’s shotgun exploding, or Marvin the Martian’s flying saucer was a rare treat in the context of serious game development! It was just great working with everyone involved”.