Is there a sci-fi music genre?

 Guitar playerIs there a category of music we can call “science fiction music”?

In my opinion, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, about fictional astronaut Major Tom, kicked off a sci-fi music genre that never really got off the launch pad.

There are all kinds of music that could be considered sci-fi:

  • Soundtrack music – for science fiction films and television shows such as Star Wars and Dr. Who.
  • Space rock – includes bands such as Hawkwind and Pink Floyd.
  • Progressive rock – overlaps with space rock.
  • Some psychedelic music.
  • Electronic music – hello, Daft Punk.
  • Instrumental music – includes surf bands who play songs with sci-fi titles and spacey instruments such as the Theremin.
  • Steampunk – bands such as Abney Park.
  • Metal – this includes bands with sci-fi lyrics.
  • Filk music – I had never heard of filk music until I Googled “science fiction music genre”.

There are also interesting recording artists such as Dana Countryman, who released the notalgia-electronic CD Moog-Tastic: Electronic Melodies from the 24th Century. Song titles include “Lovesick Martian Boy”, “Deserted Planet”, and “Ragtime for Robots”.

Is there a genre of music for science fiction fans?

Today, I think Jonathan Coulton comes the closest, even though not every song is about sci-fi. Full disclosure: I’m a huge Jonathan Coulton fan.

Am I missing something obvious? Is there a popular music scene for science fiction fans I know nothing about? Is there a science fiction Beatles?

Or, maybe there just isn’t enough music for science fiction fans.

What do you think?

  • Are you interested in music for science fiction fans?
  • What does this music sound like?
  • Would you be interested in creating music for science fiction fans?
  • What in the heck should we call this kind of music?

I would really love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below!

 

 

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Episode 7 – Six science fiction artists talk about how to start

In this episode, I interview six artists at the Industry Giants Conference  about how they got started and ask them how YOU can get started as a science fiction artist.

Edward Ian Taylor

Edward Ian Taylor concept art

Edward Ian Taylor is a concept artist  and illustrator who does children’s books and concept development art for films, commercials, and animation.

He studied 3D art in college and taught himself 2D.

Inspired by a friend in the game industry, Edward wanted to do game art. He went to school and ended up changing his focus to animation.

Edward’s advice

Draw! If you want to be an artist, you should be drawing every day!

Find Edward online

Elise Hatheway

Elise Hatheway's Aphrodite

Elise is a Visual Development Artist at Reel FX Creative Studios. She works primarily on animated films.

Her personal work is primarily sci fi and whimsical things. She likes to tell a story with all of her pieces.

She has drawn since she was a kid. As a huge movie buff, she gets to do what she loves for fun and for a living.

Elise’s advice

Constantly learn, grow, and look for inspiration.

Find Elise online

Kevin Chin

Kevin Chin's Godzilla

Kevin is a concept artist for a video game company. He does mostly character designs and environment designs.

For personal work, he does illustrations.

He liked drawing as a kid.

Kevin’s advice

  • Look at people who are doing this and don’t be afraid to ask them questions – how did they start?
  • Put your stuff out there on the Internet. You’ll get feedback – good and bad – and you’ll learn from it.

Find Kevin online

David Mitchell

David Mitchell Art

David is a sci fi and fantasy artist who primarily does personal projects.

David’s work is influenced by Frank Frazetta and Syd Mead, but his style is his own.

He is also working on a short film called “Samurai Days” about a samurai who gets lost in another dimension.

As a kid, David read a lot of science fiction paperbacks. He loved the way the covers looked. Once he got around to reading them, he also loved the stories in those books.

David’s advice

Find what you have a passion for and build with that.

Find David online

Halo Sama

Halo Sama Power Girl

You can find Halo at Shonuff Studio, where they draw all kinds of things, from comic book illustrations to movie posters or whatever you want to hire them for.

Classically trained, Halo has been drawing since she could hold a pencil.  She always knew she wanted to do art for a living.

Halo’s advice

  1. Research
  2. Practice, practice, practice
  3. Network online and offline – especially your local community
  4. Don’t take cheap drawing classes. Learn from the best.

Find Halo online

Eliott Lilly

Eliott Lilly Art

Eliott is a concept artist for video games and movies.

He specializes in science fiction and fantasy. He makes stuff up, but he makes it believable.

Eliott is a teacher, educator, and author. He wrote “Big Bad World Of Concept Art For Video Games; An Insider’s Guide For Students.”

In college, he planned to be a set designer for Broadway shows or an illustrator. Then he discovered the book “The Art of Start Wars, Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.” Thats the book that changed his life and he realized he wanted to be a concept artist.

Eliott talks about some of the misadventures he had trying to get hired.

Eliott’s advice

  • If you are passionate about it, keep going!
  • Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to contact artists you like.

Find Eliott online

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Episode 6 – Sci Fi Movie Podcast with Remi Lavictoire

Remi Lavictoire is the creator and co-host of The Sci Fi Movie Podcast, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary.

Sci Fi Movie Podcast Graphic

The hosts take a critical approach to discussing science fiction movies. They talk about what works, what doesn’t work, the casting, how it performed at the box office, how it might have been better cast, and so on.

They also read listeners’ feedback from their Facebook group.

Rem got started in podcasting by assisting Cliff Ravenscraft (Hi, Cliff!) with his Lost podcast.

Later, Rem rediscovered podcasting and decided that science fiction movies would be a really good fit.

Rem has been a science fiction fan since he was a kid, watching films and TV shows  such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, Ultraman, Johnny Socko and His Flying Robot, and Creature Features with Bob Wilkins. And then Star Wars happened!

When he started the show, he already had some of the equipment he needed, such as Adobe Audition (software). He also had to get:

Today, Rem plugs the ATR2100 straight into his computer and records into Audacity. Then he edits the show using Adobe Audition 3.

He also uses Auphonic line leveling software. He runs all of their shows through Auphonic and the files are automatically uploaded to Libsyn for hosting.

Dave Jackson set up their WordPress site and it uses the Libsyn podcast player. They use to use the PowerPress plugin for their player.

The shows are uploaded and available for listening or downloading on Tuesday afternoons.

For promotion, Rem likes to use the social media channels he uses personally. That means Facebook and a little bit of Twitter.

They have a Facebook group and fan page.

Future shows are promoted during the podcast and they ask for comments and questions.

You can also sign up for their newsletter on the website.

They like to have guests on the show to talk about the movies. Their first guest was Kevin Bachelder of the Tuning into SciFi TV podcast.

Seth Heasley of the Take Me to Your Reader podcast has been on the show.

Bringing on host from other shows gives the podcasters opportunities to cross-promote their shows.

Jason from The Walking Dead ‘Cast has also been on the show.

We talked about the original script written by  Ted Eliott and Terry Rossio (Wordplayer.com) for the 1998 Godzilla movie. You can read it here. Much better than the movie Roland Emmerich made.

The Sci Fi Movie Podcast uses audio clips from the movies they discuss on the show. This requires more work to edit the podcast, but it sure makes the show more interesting to listen to.

The Sci Fi Movie Podcast Process

  1. Record the show. This takes an hour or so.
  2. Edit the show. Rem takes 4 to 5 hours to edit one show because of the audio clips.
  3. Post the show to the website. This takes an hour.
  4. Posting on social media.
  5. Must also keep up with listener emails.

Rem spends about 10 hours a week to make one podcast episode.

You must publish your podcast on a regular schedule. Your listeners will expect this and get discouraged if you don’t.

When Rem started his podcast, it sounded great. This is due, in large part, to the fact that Rem has an extensive background in commercial radio.

Most new podcasts do NOT sound great when they are new. There is a learning curve. So, don’t get discouraged if your show isn’t great when you start. It will get better!

Also, be aware that your voice will sound “weird” to you when you hear it recorded. Don’t worry – you’ll get used to it.

Be sure and check out the Podcastica podcast network.

Advice for new science fiction creators

  • Decide on the story you want to tell. Find the thing that sings to you.
  • Pick your medium
  • Figure out where this will go in the future
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Episode 5 – We Blab About Sci Fi Makers

Our first video and audio episode – live streaming on Blab

For our fifth show, I thought we’d try something a little different. We made two changes:

  1. We streamed the show live with Blab . This allowed us to produce an audio and video version of the show.
  2. I had a co-host for this show: the talented and hard-working model: Charlie Kristine.
Charlie Kristine and Me
Charlie Kristine and I are about to start the show

You can watch the video version on YouTube.

We talked about what the show is about: it’s for science fiction fans who want to take that next step and start creating their own science fiction. Maybe they want to:

  • Write books or short stories
  • Create a comic book or graphic novel
  • Make videos or movies
  • Create science fiction art
  • Create video games
  • Make costumes or props
  • Create special effects
  • Invent and build cool gadgets
  • Compose music
  • Perform standup comedy (or create a science-fiction variety show)
  • Do science fiction-y things we haven’t even thought of

If you have ideas for types of science fiction we haven’t thought of, let us know on our Contact page.

We talked about the first four shows

  • Episode 1 – What the Sci Fi Maker Show is about.
  • Episode 2 – Interview with filmmaker Bennett Litwin about his science fiction comedy movie: Frackers (Mitch had a small part as an extra in one of the trailers for the movie).
  • Episode 3 – Show about Krystle Starr, a popular cosplayer with over 100 different outfits. We talked about people who have plastic surgery for cosplay. I Googled it after the show and, yup, there are people who are doing this.
  • Episode 4 – Party Girl – a super hero web series about a high school student. The show was created by BJ Lewis and Party Girl is played by Cait Pool.

We talked about cosplay and stuff

The cosplay magazine we talked about in the show is called Cosplay Culture.

You can find Mitch’s cosplay photography here. We will be adding a lot more cosplay pictures soon.

There is a great cosplay site called Geek Girls (Geek x Girls). Mitch contributed some Harley Quinn lingerie photos for the site you can see here. Caution: It’s a little racy.

Mitch and Charlie recently shot a short science fiction comedy video: First Date with an Alien. More info coming soon.

We discussed the three goals for the Sci Fi Maker Show and website:

  1. Create a resource for science fiction creators – let’s turn science fiction fans into science fiction creators.
  2. Encourage those creators to create more science fiction.
  3. Build a community for science fiction makers – we created a private Facebook group for science fiction makers.

We want to encourage science fiction creators to just get their work out there. You might suck at first, so just keep doing it. Over time, you’ll get better and better.

“It’s about the journey.” – Charlie Kristine

We talked about some of our favorite science fiction shows, including Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

We also talked about someone who does some really cool toy photography. You can check it out here.

We were asked about our favorite science fiction television show – Twilight Zone wins. Charlie owns the complete series on DVD.

We started interacting with some of the viewers on Blab and discussed some of our other favorite science fiction shows such as Start Trek (classic, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine), Stargate, Quantum Leap, Sliders, Chuck, X-Files, The Lone Gunmen, and Destiny (Gary Leland likes this one).

How to become a filmmaker

  1. Start by learning how to create a single shot that looks like something from a movie. You must master this basic building block for making movies.
  2. After that, learn how to create a short scene that looks great and that works dramatically.
  3. Create really good short videos.
  4. Graduate to a feature-length movie.

Charlie recommended auditing a filmmaking class at a local college. It’s affordable. Bonus: you get to collaborate with others to create videos. And the school might have some pretty good filmmaking facilities you can use.

Mitch recommended checking out a local makerspace (if you have one). Dallas has a wonderful makerspace. These are great places with all kinds of tools, resources, and people that can help you create some great science fiction projects.

If you know someone who is creating some interesting and cool science fiction, please get in touch with us on our Contact page.

Subscribe to The Sci Fi Maker show on iTunes or listen to us on Stitcher.

Let the adventure continue!

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Episode 4 – Party Girl: a web series

BJ Lewis and Cait Pool on “Party Girl”

Party Girl is a web series about a young super hero called “Party Girl.” She quickly discovers it’s not as easy as she thought.

The web series is written, produced, and directed by BJ Lewis.

Party Girl
Cait Pool, aka Party Girl

 BJ Lewis

“It’s kind of like a Kick Ass you can watch with your kids.”

Party Girl started off as Marvel Comics fan fiction years ago. BJ started stripping away the copyrighted elements and made the story his own.

The Heroes of the North web series inspired BJ to start producing Party Girl.

Scheduling and logistics complicated production, but BJ was determined and got through it.

As a one-man band on season one, BJ wrote it, directed it, shot it, and edited it. He got more help in season two.

He has been writing most of his life. In 5th or 6th grade,  he wrote his first novel and an 11-page comic book. He has a journalism degree and is a county government newspaper reporter.

As a filmmaker, BJ is self-taught.

The series is shot with a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera (same camera I use). The first season was shot with a Canon Rebel T3i.

For lighting, BJ used a couple of softboxes in the first season. For the second season, he is using some LED lights provided by a crew member – Steve Forsyth. Steve has taught BJ a lot about lighting.

BJ records audio with a boom rig (when he has a boom operator). Otherwise, BJ plugs a Rode mic straight into his camera.

Party Girl uses some pretty ambitious locations, including a school, which is unusual for low-budget productions. One of the cast members was a board member for a school district. Bingo! BJ gets a great location for free!

BJ gets music for Party Girl by asking bands for music. He also finds royalty-free music for some of the instrumental pieces.

Crowdfunding provided some funds for costumes. BJ uses stuff he finds around the house and orders some items online.

BJ’s wife does some makeup and so do some of the actors’ moms. Makeup  and costumes are a real team effort.

BJ did stunt choreography at first. Later, a couple of extras with martial arts expertise came onboard to handle stunts for the series.

BJ talks about playing “catch up” with other creative people. He feels he wasted a lot of time not creating. Maybe this will inspire others to get up off the couch and start doing something creative! Now!

Cait Pool

Cait’s character is Rachel Buchanan who is secretly a super hero named Party Girl.

Cait stepped into the role of Party Girl in season two, replacing the original actress. She decided to put her own spin on the role rather than trying to copy the way the character had been portrayed.

She took Tae Kwon Do classes for the physical demands of the role and has also taken acting classes.

Cait has some interesting insights into how wearing the Party Girl costume helps her play the role.

Cait’s older sister did theater and Cait followed in her sister’s footsteps. Cait ended up falling in love with acting.

Cait was surprised to discover a hidden talent: she has a strong memory and can memorize her lines in a very short amount of time.

Important lessons

  • It’s nice to use your friends as actors, but “real” actors can bring more to the characters they’re playing and make the show better.
  • Don’t get too caught up in the technical details (like which camera to use). Do the best you can with what you have.
  • Build up trust for locations and other resources by being professional and organized.
  • Keep your special effects simple, but make them interesting so they add to the story-telling.
  • With low-budget and unfunded projects, you have to be creative in finding ways to “pay” for talent and crew.
  • Be willing to take that first step on your journey as a science fiction creator. Start doing!
  • Reach out to people who can help you.
  • Join groups with like-minded people who might be able to help you.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you really want to do.
  • Take classes for whatever you want to do, whether that’s singing, acting, photography, directing, or whatever.
  • Hone your craft.
  • “Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Cait

Where to find BJ, Cait, and Party Girl

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