The game audio community would like to recognize the passing of a friend, innovator, and legend in Jory Prum who passed late last week.
From his parents:
We are deeply heartbroken that our son, Jory Kyle Prum, passed away last night, April 22, 2016. We placed him in God’s hands and he was taken around 9 PM. We were by his side as he took his last peaceful breath and completed a 41 year life that was full of passion, love, music, technology, humor, and generosity. As an international pioneer in video game audio, he touched thousands upon thousands of people around the world. Self-taught, he was a computer genius, as well as a consummate sound designer for film and video. He was unique–a one of a kind–free spirit and Renaissance man that will be missed and kept forever in our hearts.
Leslye & Sam Prum
It’s the most difficult to let go of those who have affected us the most. That we should live without, however loosely connected, makes life feel lesser for their passing. When left with only memories, it is through memories that we keep their spirit alive. Jory left many positive memories during his time and I expect these to continue to resonate for long into the future.
Please feel-free to contribute to the memory of Jory in your own way in response to this.
From Julian Kwasneski
Like most people who knew Jory, I spent most of today in a fog of disbelief and bewilderment. With each text exchange or phone call, more names would come to mind… names of people I needed to talk to. I just didn’t know how to process what I was feeling. As the day went on, my realization of the magnitude of this tragedy grew.
I first met Jory in 1999 when he joined the closely knit family that was the sound department at Lucasarts. He was passionate about audio and was a master at pushing the boundaries of possibilities with software. We would regularly come up with crazy solutions to problems and laugh when they worked… and when they didn’t.
I left Lucasarts in 2000 and went on to form my own game audio company, and Jory followed soon after—building his own recording studio in Fairfax, California. The construction of that studio was like nothing I had seen. Friend after friend would donate their services in exchange for studio time, all under Jory’s supervision (a task he pulled off with the precision of a full time contractor).
We worked on many, many projects together and around 2004 began to start attracting more and more voice work. I honestly don’t want to know how much time he and I spent in that control room, but it numbers in the thousands. As I look back now, I am thankful for every one of them. He was a total professional and I always felt like he could handle any technical issue that could ever arise. He was always prepared for the unexpected, and expected people to be unprepared. In the ten years of our working together, I can’t recall a single session that had to be called off for some technical reason.
When my wife passed away in 2006, Jory was one of the first people to tell me that I needn’t worry about work and that he would take care of anything that I couldn’t. When I needed to find an audio implementer in the fog of that time, he handed me Damian Kastbauer, someone who has become a dear friend (and an industry leader). In fact, no matter what the need was, Jory always had several names at the ready.
I can’t think of another studio that I would have wanted to record all those games in. It wasn’t just about the space or the gear. We shared a need for quality, a love of the process and could speak in shorthand. Jory always had a second set of ears paying attention. Sometimes he would ask for another take (“do me a favor”) and would even correct writer’s bad grammar… to their faces! He made actors feel completely at ease, made sure everyone had their favorite snacks and always gave people the benefit of the doubt.
Jory and I spoke often about the fact that we often never realized the significance of some of the projects we worked on. It didn’t matter what the title was, the approach and process was the same. Part creative, part technical—always social. The tightly-knit group of actors we were fortunate enough to work with quickly became friends and many of the titles we worked on became legendary. It seems fitting that those long days and late, late nights at Lucasarts had us on a path, actually leading us somewhere—to a body of work that would become some of the highlights of our careers.
In recent years Jory was more hands off in the daily operation of the studio as he broadened his horizons and began to work and live in a country he held near and dear to his heart. Norway was one of those forces in Jory’s life that was undeniable. More importantly, it allowed him to pull away from the day-to-day recording schedule to focus on something that was equally important to him—solving many of the audio industry’s production problems. He was a tireless advocate for better tools and was in the process of developing his own suite of applications to extend that helping hand to the community at large.
We have lost so many things with Jory’s passing and I don’t think the volume of loss will be fully realized for quite a long time. He is not someone we will ever forget and his life touched many people in many places. He was opinionated, quirky and confidently modest. His level of compassion was palatable and his enthusiasm infectious—he wasn’t afraid of anything. We will miss you, my friend and I can’t believe you are gone. As I sit here, I find myself wishing I was able to say that I gave you as much as you gave me, but I can’t. I am sure that few of you reading this who knew him can. I’ll leave you with the words he must have uttered 100,000 times… “Great, moving on.”
From Damian Kastbauer
I first became familiar with Jory from the other side of the screen, his involvement with the LucasArts audio team, his relationship with Bay Area Sound, Julian Kwasneski and countless others connected throughout game audio…before we had ever met, his reputation preceded him. He was among the first handful of folks I reached out to when I was making my first steps into the industry. Meeting him at my first GDC (he would never let me forget, after keying in some notes under my contact information in his Apple Newton) left a memory that resonated enough to risk a recommendation to Julian a few months later for what would become my first opportunity in game audio. From there I was welcomed onto his couch just a few weeks later in an exploratory mission to Fairfax, California where he was known during that time as the “unofficial Mayor” (due to having recently run for Town Council). Shortly thereafter I arrived in town, family in tow, to begin my new career and again found the selfless extension of his resources at my disposal as we attempted to touch-down gently after leaving the Midwest.
After leaving the comforts of in-house work at LucasArts, he never looked back. An entrepreneur at heart, he established Studio Jory as a base of operations for all of his creative pursuits. Whether he was mixing for 5.1 or recording old-time acoustic combos, his dedication to quality and craft radiated from the studio through everything he touched. Countless lines of dialog, endless sound effects, coding projects to support custom workflows, he was a tireless tinkerer and doer who was infrequently sitting idle. I remember landing next to him at a presentation, his laptop open, with one ear on the topping and tailing he was doing and another on the presenter.
This multi-tasking eventually found him exploring the Nordic game development scene where he had been spending the majority of his time over the past years, cultivating a community and appreciation for quality audio. With his studio back in Fairfax being attended to by a few trusted professionals he was free to pursue work in a country that I remember him feeling drawn-to on his first visit. He had truly found happiness in his adventures and relationships there, that much was clear when I saw him this year at GDC. This calm and poise had been present over the past years of his career development, a beautiful symptom of what I felt was a body at peace with his situation. A situation he had built for himself through hard work and determination.
It’s fascinating to write this, I wouldn’t say that we have shared much time over the 10 years that I’ve known him, but the time we did spend feels like it came with a depth of clarity and love.
From Dren McDonald
It feels strange, writing about Jory, this way, for a few reasons:
One: it’s quite difficult to imagine our community without him, but…
Two: I actually didn’t know him as well as many of my friends and colleagues did.
So while that does feel slightly unusual, given the circumstances, I would like to share a story about my last conversation with Jory during GDC 2016, because I think that it offers some real insight about who he was. And I think that’s valuable.
Before GDC began, Rob Bridgett, Damian Kastbauer and I put a very casual online calendar together, with the idea that for GDC first timers and students we would create appointments for them to meet with any of us for 30 minutes during GDC week. Casual conversations to offer advice, stories, answer questions…and to be a contact point for them during the conference. Just another friendly face in the West Hall or at a party etc. We put the calendar online, posted a couple of tweets and didn’t think much of it, apart that we hoped a few people would be interested.
Within the 1st hour all of our appointments were booked.
The 1st person to contact me after the appointments were booked was Jory “I wanna do this too! How can I set this up? This is great, how can I help?” I set him up with his own calendar and I believe that he booked more appointments than anyone else (several other game audio vets chimed in and volunteered as well…it was magnificent!)
Thursday night at GDC many of us had gathered at the ‘death star’ and while I was wandering around looking for someone who had just texted me, I ran into Jory, on a couch by himself, looking like we all did on the eve of day 5 GDC…totally exhausted but with a big perma-grin.
I sat with him and we talked about the success of our little mentoring calendar experiment. We both felt energized from the experience, and he was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm about the next steps. “How can we make this happen all year long? What other online solutions exist to schedule this sort of thing? How can we bring this to schools?”
This was easily the longest and most engaging conversation that we’d ever had. You’d think we would’ve talked about heavy metal, or Unity3D, the Muppets, science fiction, or voice actors we knew, but no, it was about helping others. I left the conversation knowing that we’d have a lot more to talk about as we moved this idea along, and I’m sad that he won’t be on that journey with me.
The very best of our game audio community shares that unselfish spirit, and whenever I see that spirit in others I will think of Jory.
From Martin Kvale
I write these words as my train is passing Lake Mjøsa, the biggest lake in Norway. The lake has just started rising from meltwater coming down from the mountains further up. At the destination I’m going to, water is starting to rise-up to the base of some town bells that chime in the hours that me and Jory wanted to record. Jory loved this train ride as it took him through the nature of his newly chosen country, our country. He also loved and was loved in return by everyone that knew him over here. The last few years he had become crucial in the Norwegian game scene and been more than central to shaping up initiatives to support the growing industry and helping everyone out. To make our games sound as good as possible, he connected people through his huge network of friends, helped several local teams find perfect voice actors for their characters, designed sounds, edited music, implemented hooks, made suggestions, held talks and workshops. He was continuously present and immensely valuable to us as a professional in his field as well as a dear friend.
He was responsible for my first gig in games with Krillbites Among The Sleep, as he had just recommended to the team the idea of getting a full time sound designer at the same time I came looking for an opportunity. He taught me my first steps in game audio and gave me confidence to learn and try what I needed to get to where I am now. I know this is a situation quite a few others have experienced and I think Jory spent much of his life helping everyone he crossed paths with, by sharing knowledge and tips freely to make sure people did things right the first time around.
In Norway we sometimes do dugnad together, it is when people share work together as a community. Jory pulled more than his share at any time and was always willing to show support for any person or project in need of help. After his accident I spent some time staring at the various channels I am part of and discussing ways to help his recovery and his family, his work and life. I think of the splash he has made in the world so far with all this love flowing from all corners of the world, and he would have been moved to see the initiatives being made on his behalf. In Norway, we have kept his work and projects going in addition to taking care of his logistics for when he would have returned.
I remember when we sat around in our shared office in Oslo, we would talk about everything and nothing which, with Jory, would always turn into a good conversation. Being American he could hold his part, unlike most Norwegians who are more introverted by culture. You could also hear his laugh echo through the halls, a laughter like none other. Right now we are all in shock over here, we are huddling together all around the country to reminisce and mourn his passing and to console each other from losing a dear and beloved friend. A friend we were looking forward to having around for many years.