Video Interview: Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld on All Access

May 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld in an interview on Film.Music.Media: All Access
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez (left) and Freddy Sheinfeld

Last week, Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld, two members of the Yu-Gi-Oh! music composition team, appeared on All Access, a video series that features in-depth interviews with composers. The program is produced by Kaya Savas of Film.Music.Media, a website dedicated to the ins and outs of the film music industry.

Álvarez and Sheinfeld, both originally from Venezuela, talk about how they met in the United States and started their own company and how they dove into the world of composing for animations like Yu-Gi-Oh!, from the Pyramid of Light to The Dark Side of Dimensions and everything in between. Some of the topics they discuss include:

  • Their musical backgrounds and how they discovered film music.
  • How they define the sound of a show and their approaches to thematic writing.
  • What it’s like composing with each other and what happens when there’s a disagreement.
  • How their approach to composition differs when writing for narrative fictions and nature documentaries.
  • The aspects of a movie or show — whether the cinematography, script, characters, or story itself — that draw the first note out of them.
  • The negatives of the film composition industry, like the decay in appreciation of quality film music and the need for composers to follow popular trends.
  • The positives of the industry, like the influx of new directors, fresh content, opportunities to grow.

There are numerous funny and enlightening moments in this interview. Álvarez and Sheinfeld got a good laugh remembering when they first met in the U.S. at a conducting class. At the time, they didn’t realize that they were both from Venezuela. They only spoke to each other in English, each thinking that the other was Greek or German.

Álvarez explained how, when composing for Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, they enjoyed going “really dark” with the scores because it was such a change in style for them compared to the previous series. Unfortunately for them, they never got anywhere with this new sound. After writing close to an entire episode, the producers asked them to dial it down a notch. It was “too Nine Inch Nails meets Yu-Gi-Oh!” laughed Sheinfeld.

A show’s sounds sometimes develop organically and in unexpected ways. Sheinfeld reminisced about writing Yu-Gi-Oh! GX’s rock-oriented score and how the music he submitted was really similar to the ones that he used to play with his college rock band. As luck would have it, the producers really liked this style, so writing for that show became like a jam session for him and his style was integrated with the sounds of the show.

Give this interview a listen to hear more great moments like these!

(h/t Freddy Sheinfeld)

Related posts:
Composer Elik Álvarez Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! Music
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Interviewed on Soundtrack Alley Podcast

More Places to Watch Yu-Gi-Oh! (April 2017): STARZ, Steam, Crunchyroll

April 30, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, ARC-V, Bonds Beyond Time, Duel Monsters, English dubbed, GX, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 2 Comments
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Screenshot of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime on the STARZ app

This past month, Yu-Gi-Oh! and its many anime spin-off series made their way to a few new video platforms, giving fans even more options to watch and buy the anime they love.

First up is the STARZ app (pictured above), where you can now find season 1 of the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series in English. Yu-Gi-Oh! joins other titles like Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, The Secret World of Arietty, and a few of the Ghost in the Shell animated movies as the only anime in the app. The STARZ app is free if your cable subscription package includes the network; otherwise, it costs $8.99 per month.

All throughout the month, Valve’s gaming and video distribution platform Steam has been adding plenty of Yu-Gi-Oh! anime titles to its catalog. Now available are the English dubs of:

And last but certainly not least, the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is now on Crunchyroll for U.S. viewers. After the anime streaming platform apparently mistakenly announced its availability last month, the series is accessible for real this time. Whew.

Anchor Bay Entertainment Announces Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray, DVD

April 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Japanese, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 11 Comments
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Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Blu-ray cover mock-up from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment announced today that it will release Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions on home video this summer. First up is a digital HD version of the movie slated for June 13. Then, the Blu-ray and DVD versions will hit store shelves on June 27. Both the English and Japanese versions of the movie are included. The home release is also packed with four special features: an interview with Dan Green and Eric Stuart, a look at the cast’s favorite moments, and 4K Media’s “Show Us Your Cards” campaign.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Interviewed on Soundtrack Alley Podcast

April 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Other Stuff, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment
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Photos of Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez (left) and Freddy Sheinfeld

On Friday, Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld, two members of a team of talented composers for the many Yu-Gi-Oh! series and movies, appeared on the most recent episode of Soundtrack Alley, a podcast that celebrates the love of movie soundtracks. In a 40-minute interview, the duo speak with podcast host Randy Williams about their work in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other recent projects. This post includes a few highlights from the interview.

Adding a New Flavor to an Old Favorite

Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld are both composers originally from Venezuela who are now working out of Los Angeles. Their involvement in Yu-Gi-Oh! began with the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, Pyramid of Light, which led them to work on season 3 of the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series and, eventually, every season and spin-off since then. For Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, the pair tried to move away from the style of music seen in the TV series in an effort to make the score a little more cinematic, explained Álvarez.

“How [do you] make it more cinematic?” asked Álvarez. “Well, you just do. That’s what you do as a composer. You are able to switch gears when they need to.”

One of the things that the two composers really pressed for in The Dark Side of Dimensions was the inclusion of more choirs.

“That doesn’t mean we haven’t used choirs in the rest of the series, but not as much probably as we do in this one. We really pushed hard for that one,” Álvarez added. But the most challenging aspect of scoring wasn’t actually the composition process.

Álvarez continued: “What is difficult is to have people who oversee the music — the music producer, the producers, the writers, whoever is listening to the score — this movie is a little bit different because even people in Japan were listening to this, people in Konami, I believe. So the difficult part is to convince them, ‘Listen, let’s try to do something different.’ They are so used to listening to a certain style of music. To propose something new takes time and persuasion and things like that. But to switch gears, in my opinion, is something that comes very natural to us.”

Sheinfeld noted that the their experience with Yu-Gi-Oh! has come full circle. The pair began with Duel Monsters, which had a certain style of music. They then moved on to other series, each with their own unique sound; GX was a little more rock-oriented and 5D’s had electronic industrial elements. Now, after more than ten years, they’ve returned to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! and needed to approach it with a fresh perspective.

“We kind of came back to some of the original ideas as far as the themes that we needed to use because those are characters that everybody knows,” said Sheinfeld. “But at the same time, we wanted to do, like Elik said, something fresh, something more cinematic. And somehow, the way it worked, to sound a little bit more cinematic was actually going a little bit old school.

“It’s funny because in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, if you listen to the music, there’s a lot of electronics going on. A lot of electronic percussion, a lot of techno stuff combined with an orchestra. But [for The Dark Side of Dimensions], we were a little bit more pure. We tried to avoid that just a little bit just to sound a little bit more modern, which is weird but it kind of worked that way. A lot of those sounds [in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!] now sound a little bit dated if we use it, so to sound fresh, we avoided it as much as we could. We were for a more traditional sound. You know, still mixing some of the modern electronic sounds that we use these days to still have that modern feel. But overall, it was a little bit more traditional orchestration approach to this film.”

Getting the Style Just Right

Both Álvarez and Sheinfeld gave a lot of credit to Mike Brady, 4K Media’s music producer, who offers them lots of freedom to compose to picture. Brady doesn’t give the composers a temp track — a sample piece of filler music that editors and producers use to set the mood of a scene.

“We just get plain animation with dialog and rough sound effects and sometimes rough dialog, and we just write music to it,” explained Álvarez. “So that’s a very, very important point I want to make. We’re pretty lucky with this because temp tracks sometimes could be a big help, sometimes they don’t. So one thing for this is we don’t get any temp tracks. He just sends us picture with dialog, and that’s it. There is no music there. So we really create from scratch.”

“I think the producer, Mike, is very good at what he does,” Sheinfeld said. “Like Elik says, he doesn’t give a temp track, but he has a very specific idea of how the show works. It took a long time to understand it but now it’s a matter of trying to understand what is important, what you need to accomplish with the music, and on the other side, what you can add to it as far as being creative. So it’s always that balance. You want to make it work and you also want to make it as cool as possible. There’s a lot of work involved. As far as making things work, it’s funny because it’s even though it’s an animation, I think the level of thought that goes behind each detail is much more deeper than a lot of the dramatic films that I’ve done in the past.”

After working on Yu-Gi-Oh! for more than ten years, Álvarez and Sheinfeld have a good feel for what the producers are looking for and what style of music works well in the anime.

“We understand the language pretty well of these types of animations,” said Álvarez. “I gotta tell you, it’s very, very complex. It’s very complex. Sometimes, on TV, you don’t really listen that much to the music. There is a lot of dialog. They don’t mix the music that loud. But it’s very complex what we do over here, and it took us quite a few years just to nail down the style and not to be afraid.”

And getting the style just right really is the key, since the music dictates so much of how characters and scenes are perceived by the viewers.

“As Freddy said, each of the characters over there, they have their own personality and we need to make sure that people can understand that,” Álvarez said. He elaborated on this point using Kaiba as an example, explaining that when composing for this character, Brady emphasized not to treat Kaiba as a bad, evil guy but also not as a good, heroic guy.

“These characters are complex. And you know, people don’t realize that,” stated Álvarez. “And again, when you see it on TV, and there is a lot of dialog going on all the time. But we’re behind that trying to make sure that people don’t perceive Kaiba as an evil guy because he’s not. So how do you make that balance?”

Teamwork, Inspirations, Future Projects, and More

Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld discussed several more topics with Randy Williams, including how they have honed their skills from working together, how they met fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! composer Joel Douek, what types of film music they enjoy, and what some of their future project include. It’s a smart and enlightening interview, so give it a listen! Be sure to listen all the way to the end because they share a few of their full-length pieces from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other works.

Related posts:
Composer Elik Álvarez Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! Music
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions

Crunchyroll Adds Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, GX English Dub for U.S. [Updated]

March 21, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, English dubbed, GX, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 5 Comments
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Yuma promising to fight for all of the friends he has ever known in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL episode 140

English-dubbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX are at last available on Crunchyroll to viewers in the United States, announced the anime streaming platform today. (Note: See update below.) Both series had long been available worldwide on CR except to the U.S., Italian-speaking Europe, and most of Asia.

With this announcement, Crunchyroll also added season 3 of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL (episodes 99 through 146), completing the series. ZEXAL is still not available to the U.S., Italian-speaking Europe, and most of Asia.

(News from Crunchyroll.)

Update (March 26): Crunchyroll edited its news post. Originally, it announced that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s and ZEXAL were available to U.S. viewers. However, ZEXAL has now been replaced by GX. Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, including the newly added third season, is not available to the U.S. I’ve updated this post to include the correct information.

Crunchyroll Expands Yu-Gi-Oh! Streaming to More Countries

March 8, 2017 at 7:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, English dubbed, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Seto Kaiba laughing at Noah's backstory in episode 114

Crunchyroll announced yesterday evening that it has expanded the availability of the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters to even more countries. Now, viewers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can watch all 236 episodes of the anime on CR. The series is now available globally on CR except for the United States, Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, and most of Asia.

Yu-Gi-Oh! fans in the U.S. can still watch the dub for free on yugioh.com and other Hulu partner sites like Yahoo! View. The show is also available to subscribers of Hulu (all episodes) and Netflix (episodes 1-97).

(News from Crunchyroll.)

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Season 1 Blu-Ray, DVD Box Sets Available Now

March 7, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, English dubbed, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 3 Comments
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Cinedigm's Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Season 1 Blu-ray and DVD box sets

Out today from Cinedigm Entertainment is the complete first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V on Blu-ray and DVD! All 49 episodes of 4K Media’s English dub are available in your choice of a region A Blu-ray box set for $69.97, or a region 1 DVD box set for $44.99. Each set has two volumes and six discs.

Cinedigm initially released the first volume of season 1 in September 2016. If you already own that, don’t worry. Volume 2 of season 1 is also available separately for $29.93 for the BDs and $19.95 for the DVDs. If you would like the box, however, the only way to get it is by purchasing the season set.

The video in volume 2 BDs unfortunately suffers from the same color issues as that in volume 1. (Check out my screenshot comparisons and write-up for volume 1 for more details.) I’ve reached out to Cinedigm and will update this post if a solution is found.

All 49 episodes of season 1 are now also available for download on several platforms, including Amazon, Google Play Movies & TV, iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, PlayStation Video, and VUDU. The HD download-to-own episodes are free of the color problems seen on the BDs.

Previously:
Cinedigm’s Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Season 1 Vol. 1 DVD & Blu-ray: An Overview

Crackle Removes Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Season 1, Adds Season 2

February 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, English dubbed, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Crow crying out as his monsters are removed from the field by Lazar in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's episode 44

Today, Crackle removed the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s season 1 from its network while at the same time added season 2. The free TV and movie streaming platform, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, had only just added season 1 last November.

Previously:
Crackle Adds Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Season 1

Yu-Gi-Oh! Returns to Netflix

February 9, 2017 at 11:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, English dubbed, Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 5 Comments
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Joey challenging Kaiba to a duel while Grandpa, Tristan, and Tea look on in episode 66

The English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is back on Netflix! Seasons 1 and 2 of the anime are available in English-speaking territories once again after being unceremoniously yanked from the platform last November. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions has undoubtedly brought forth renewed interest in the classic series. Could we soon see seasons 3 through 5 added as well? Let’s hope so!

Also available on Netflix are Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time and Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL seasons 1 and 2.

Previously:
Netflix Removes Yu-Gi-Oh!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions

February 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! music composers Freddy Sheinfeld, Joel Douek, and Elik Alvarez in a studio
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers (left to right) Freddy Sheinfeld, Joel Douek, and Elik Álvarez in a studio. Photo from Film.Music.Media.

Today, longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld offered some insights into their participation in writing the music for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. In a press release coming out of their home base of Los Angeles, California, the duo offered some tidbits about their songwriting process and what they and the directors wanted to impart on the audience.

“The main themes we carried from the TV series were the Yu-Gi-Oh! transformation, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and the friendship themes,” said Sheinfeld. “We haven’t used those themes for a while, so it was a lot of fun to use them again, but with a more modern and cinematic approach.”

“We wanted the audience connecting again to those themes and at the same time we needed to adapt them to the tone of the movie and the style of the score,” Álvarez added. “Many times we also found ourselves deconstructing those themes and including them in our cues. Sometimes they were very obvious, sometime[s] they were ‘hidden’ somewhere within the orchestration.”

Álvarez and Sheinfeld have been writing music for the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime since the 2004 film Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie. In scoring Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD, the duo were joined by fellow L.A.-based composer Matt McGuire and N.Y.-based John Angier, both of whom are also longtime composers for Yu-Gi-Oh!.

On Twitter, Yu-Gi-Oh! music producer and editor Michael Brady expressed the possibility of publishing Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD’s soundtrack.

For more insights about the music composition process in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, check out my write-up of a June 2015 live interview that Álvarez participated in, as well as a 2011 Reddit Ask-Me-Anything with Brady.

This week is the final week that Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD is playing in theaters in the U.S. and Canada. If you haven’t already done so, visit yugiohtickets.com to find your local theater and showtimes. And if you have already seen it, why not see it again?

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