Name: Orla O’Rourke
Course: Music Production For Games 1 Year Certificate
Year of Graduation: 2014
Orla O’Rourke is a composer and violinist who graduated from the Music Production For Games course in Pulse College in 2014. She has just finished composing the score for her first feature film and is hoping to expand her career in the film and games industry.
Did you always want a career in creating music for games?
It was kind of a gradual thing. I was interested in Music Production from a young age and then began to explore music for games and film and I was hooked. Video games were a big thing in my house growing up and I always had the main themes from them stuck in my head but until I studied at Pulse it never seemed to be a career I could possibly pursue.
What was your background before studying at Pulse College?
I started out playing violin, studying with a great teacher Adele O’Dwyer. My teenage years were spent playing with youth orchestras and different groups throughout Ireland during summer holidays and mid-term breaks. An interest in music production developed early on after doing work experience in Grouse Lodge Recording Studios during my transition year. Throughout my music degree in Trinity College I became more and more attracted to the production aspect of the music industry.
The summer before I completed my degree I was lucky enough to secure a music production internship in New York with JJ Appleton Inc. This was an incredible experience and it was here I really became fascinated by music for games. He had a lot of projects in that genre of music and it was amazing to watch how he worked. Once I had finished university, I wanted to study more about film and games music so I applied to do the course in “Music Production For Games” with Pulse College.
Why did you choose to study at Pulse College?
Studying at Pulse is something I’ve wanted to do since coming to Dublin. Anybody I know who studied at Pulse, whether it be in music, film or games, can’t recommend it enough. I’ve always been the type of person that improves a lot quicker with hands on, project work and that’s exactly what you get from Pulse. You’re writing every day, you’re recording every day, you have no choice but to learn. The college’s open attitude really appealed to me as well. They always seem eager to know what you as a student want from the course and tell you how you can achieve that.
How did Pulse College prepare you for your career?
As well as the practical aspect, the college also gives you an insight into what’s expected of you in a career like this and how to develop the skills to get there. We were advised on networking, developing and promoting yourself as a business, and how the industry works for composers. Also, the lecturers we were lucky to have during the year are all industry professionals, and were more than happy to share their experiences and knowledge.
What is a normal day like in your line of work?
I’m just starting out but I’ve found it’s not like a normal job in any way. There’s no Monday to Friday, nine to five, aspect to it. Sometimes you’re really busy and sometimes you could have nothing on for a few weeks. If you do have a project to work on, I think doing the composing part early in the morning and the orchestration and editing later in the day is the best way to go. At the moment, I’m studying a lot of different aspects of music, and I always do the things I find more difficult in the morning and the rest of the day seems a lot easier.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
The biggest challenge for any composer working in games and film is time pressure. You could have a couple of days or a week to get a project finished and you still have to make sure it’s at a high standard, musically and with regards to production. Most composers find it difficult to let go of a project when they feel it’s not the best work they have done, but part of working in this industry is getting the product finished and to the client efficiently, even if it means you don’t get the time with it you wanted.
What would you say are the top requirements for someone entering the industry?
I think the most important thing is to know your craft. This applies to music composition and music production because even if you’ve written something incredible but can’t make it sound good and authentic, you won’t get the job. If you’re good at what you do it will show and that will take you a long way. Another really important element is being able to work well with people. Nobody wants to hire somebody who’s difficult to work with or that they can’t comfortably discuss the project with so I think it’s important to be open minded and flexible.
What are the major changes you see happening in the industry in the future?
It’s hard to know. In some ways, the advancements in technology are getting rid of the need for composers on smaller projects, which means less work for those starting out. In other ways, they’re beneficial and they give composers more options to be creative. The possibilities for writing and producing music are becoming endless and if you have the tools, you can now create a professional, sellable product from your bedroom. This gives more and more people the opportunity to compose but also makes the industry incredibly competitive.
What’s next for Orla?!
Well, as I mentioned above, I’m studying a lot at the moment while also trying to get involved in small projects within Ireland. I’m hoping to do a range of smaller projects then moving onto bigger challenges and see how I progress from there. There are a lot of games developers and directors who are also just starting their careers so hopefully I can work with them and gain more experience. In a couple of years, I’m also hoping to apply for the Pulse College Masters in Scoring for Film and Visual Media. I’ve been researching it over the last year or two and it just seems like the best course for getting a solid grounding in that area.
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