Internationally acclaimed composer and visual effects artist, Mike Verta, has a truly generous reason for launching his online studio. Read on for his impressions on Hollywood success, paying it forward, and appreciating downtime
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Powhow: You recently offered your first hugely successful online session to mentor upcoming composers around the world, Settling the Score: The Nexus. Why was it important to you to offer coaching to other composers?

Mike Verta: Be the change… The tremendously helpful and rewarding master/apprentice days of old are long gone. We no longer have commonplace opportunities at studios and production companies to be writing music daily under the tutelage of seasoned pros, and then carrying that music into the next room to have it performed by world-class musicians. For most of us, this was the way our heroes learned to write. I wished for that sort of guidance so often while I was coming up… I decided, now that I have 20-plus years of experiential knowledge to impart, I would pay that dream forward. And nothing helps cement and organize one’s thoughts like having to teach them. So it’s a win-win.

Powhow: The Nexus focuses on the music. Your next session Settling the Score- Career 101: The Gameplan is all business. How did you get your big break in Hollywood and what’s your secret to staying so busy?

Mike Verta: Build it and They Will Come. It’s an illusion to think you’re going to muscle Hollywood into doing what you want. My break came by following the advice I give up-and-comers: Be good, and be everywhere. In the very beginning, your abilities come second to your clout, and you build clout by seeming to be everywhere, known to everyone. Sooner or later, one of the thousands of seeds you plant sprouts, and that’s your first break. To stay busy, do a great job and be fun to work with. Both of those qualities ensure the phone will continue to ring after the first time.

Powhow: Your designs are amazing too! Does the inspiration for your art come from the same place as the inspiration for your music? How does the process for creating your visual work differ?

Mike Verta: One of the core concepts I teach is the common language that is shared by artists and audiences alike. In the end, as an artist, once you understand how to relate to your audience – how to talk to them – it matters very little whether you’re speaking the language of music, visuals, scriptwriting, etc. The message is the same; the process is the same. A piece of music has composition, tone, and style. Visual pieces have composition, tone, and style. One paints with sounds, the other paints with light, but they draw upon the same skills and understanding to get their messages across.

Powhow: What projects are you excited about right now?

Mike Verta: As usual, ones that are under Non-Disclosure Agreements. But I can say that what I really enjoy is being able to work on pieces across a wide array of disciplines. At any given time, I will be writing a piece of music, doing some visual effects work, doing lectures and consulting, some sound design and mixing… it keeps things from becoming stagnant.  I usually find that when my music well is dry, my visual well is full and vice-versa. And sometimes dipping into one well helps fill another. And, again, each discipline informs the other, so there is a lot of crosstalk and inspiration to be handed around when the time comes.

Powhow: After a hard day, how do you like to unwind?

Mike Verta: I tell all my students: Don’t sit at home practicing your art 24 hours a day. If you don’t live your life, you’ll have nothing interesting to say through your art. So for me, the most relaxing things are not necessarily about unwinding, as much as they are about balance and contrast with my day-to-day. For example, working out is great – it’s so physical, versus the largely mental world of creating music. And getting together with friends and talking – just talking a lot – you know, writing music is a very solitary experience; I’m often by myself for days or weeks at a time. So those balancing moments of social interaction feel great, and welcome, and important. And doing them makes me feel complete, which is the essence of calm.

Powhow: How does your Online Studio differ from your podcasts and tutorials

Mike Verta: Obviously, the interactive aspect of it is key… the best communication is always bi-directional, and those in attendance actually shape, hone, and tailor the information precisely to their needs by interacting with me during the lesson. It’s far more effective and efficient than even the most well thought-out podcast could hope to be.

Sign up now to learn the ins and outs of the music business in Mike Verta’s Online Studio: http://www.powhow.com/classes/mike-verta

PowHow Interview

Interview: MEGA MONSTER BATTLE: ULTRA GALAXY Composer Mike Verta

Author: Steve Ryfle
Official Movie Site: Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy
Special Thanks to Jim M. Ballard

A SciFi JAPAN EXCLUSIVE

Tsuburaya Productions is touting their latest special effects extravanganza, MEGA MONSTER BATTLE: ULTRA GALAXY (Daikaiju Battoru Urutora Ginga Densetsu The Movie, 2009), as a rebirth for both the company and it’s long-running Ultraman franchise. The producers of the movie wanted a dramatic, Hollywood-style score to complement the updated visuals so they turned to an American composer, Mike Verta.

Mike Verta knew he wanted to make movie music after seeing the original STAR WARS at age five. He moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to become a film composer, but soon expanded into visual effects work as well. He established his own post-production company and has provided music, FX, sound design, and editorial work on a wide range of productions.

Mike has produced music and graphics for several Warner Bros. presentations at industry events such as ShoWest and Toy Fair, and also created the 3D Superman ‘S’ logo for Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006). He has written and performed music for a number of commercials and trailers, an award-winning campaign for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, the Sci-Fi Channel movie HEATSTROKE (2008), the BATMAN: THE SIMULATOR RIDE at Six Flags’ MovieWorld Theme Parks, and two Lifetime Movie Network INSPECTOR MOM movies (2006-07) starring his wife, WONDER YEARS and THE WEST WING actress Danica McKellar. He has continued his lifelong interest in STAR WARS by creating a CG rendering of Artoo-Detoo for the book Star Wars Complete Visual Dictionary. For additional information on Mike’s work and career, visit his official site Mike Verta dot com.

MEGA MONSTER BATTLE: ULTRA GALAXY is Mike’s first soundtrack for a Japanese theatrical feature film. He recently spoke with SciFi Japan’s Steve Ryfle about his work on the film, his approach to movie music, and his crash course introduction to 40+ years of Ultraman history…

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie.

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SciFi Japan Interview

Mike Verta Talks Superman’s Shield

by Chris Mason
April 28, 2005

Recently SHH! brought you the EXCLUSIVE on the Superman Returns ‘shield’ from Warner Bros. and fans went crazy for it! The Hype managed to track down one of the talented artists behind the shield’s 3D look, MIKE VERTA. We asked Mike a few questions via the ‘inter-web’ about his work on the Man of Steel’s upcoming return to film, as well his adventures in Hollywood as a visual effects man and his brush with the caped crusader.

SHH!: Mike, welcome to the HYPE – What is your background, how did you get started in the FX business?
Mike Verta
: Well, I started out purely as a film and television composer, and visual effects was just a hobby. But shortly after I came out to Los Angeles in 1990, some opportunities came up to do visual effects professionally, and suddenly I had a second career. Eventually I opened my own post-production company, where I’ve been able to write music, do visual effects, sound design, editing, and serve as a director on a wide variety of projects for the studios, going on 12 years now.

SHH!: What got you interested in doing what you do?
Mike Verta
: STAR WARS. It was the first film I ever saw – I was 5 years old – and I quite literally came out of the theater knowing I wanted to write music for the movies for a living. A few months later I began taking piano lessons. The visual effects stuff definitely came later, but it satisfies my inner geek in ways music can’t. I remember my first CG projects were all Star Wars ships just flying around in the computer; I thought that was so cool. Come to think of it, a lot of my personal CG projects are STILL Star Wars ships flying around.

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Superhero Hype Interview