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Chance Thomas scores ‘Avatar’ game

by Matthew Price Published: December 22, 2009

Chance Thomas took a step into director James Cameron’s world with the game based on the “Avatar” film. Thomas, who grew up in Oklahoma City, composed the music for the game, available now for multiple game systems.

Thomas has had a long, thriving career in music, composing for the Oscar-winning short “The ChubbChubbs” and many successful video game scores.

With “Avatar,” Thomas wanted to make sure his music shared a resonance with the score of the film.

“I met the film’s producer John Landau in Montreal at the very beginning of my contract,” Thomas said in an interview. “I expressed to him my strong feelings about the importance of aligning the aesthetic of the game score with that of the film. … So I asked John if he would arrange a meeting between myself and the film’s composer James Horner (‘Titanic,’ ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Star Trek’).”

While it took some time for the two composers to align their schedules, the pair did eventually meet.

“It was an important meeting for me because, while in some cases we were on the same frequency, in other cases, he had a different take,” Thomas said. “So it was useful for me to understand those differences in order to bring those colors and flavors into the game score as well.”

To create the music, Thomas created themes for the two races that are at the heart of the “Avatar” conflict.

“The Na’vi are the alien planet’s indigenous humanoid species. They are a native people, spiritually connected with the natural world around them,” Thomas said. “The music for the Na’vi is a blend of tribal elements (rough-hewn drums, organic percussive instruments, flutes, chanting, etc.) and orchestra.”

Meanwhile, the Resources Development Administration (RDA) represents a military industrial complex.

“These are scientists and soldiers, with all their assorted tech, machinery and weaponry,” Thomas said. “The music for the RDA is represented with Western film orchestra and massive percussion mixed with tech and synth elements.”

Thomas said creating the score for the “Avatar” game required a massive amount of music.

“If you took all the music files I delivered and played them back to back from start to finish, it would take you more than 4½ hours to hear them all,” Thomas said.

- By Matthew Price
From the Dec. 18 The Oklahoman

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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