Innovators of Tomorrow—Justin Lassen

Welcome to Innovators of Tomorrow. I'm your host, Bob Duffy, here to bring you sights, sounds, and inspirational work from developers and our innovator community from around the globe. In this episode, we're talking with Intel software innovator, Justin Lassen, who digitally created the music for this very show. Justin is a musician, a composer, who uses technology in his craft. So let's get this started. 

Hey, Justin. Thanks so much for joining us today. 

Hey, Bob. Thanks for having me on. I'm really happy to be here. 

Now, Justin, I've known you a long time, but not as long as you've been working with Intel on amazing audio projects using Intel technologies. You've done so much over the years. Tell us more about the work you do. 

Yeah. I've had a chance to work on a wide variety of different audio projects and mediums, everything from working with big bands, artists, movie soundtracks, game scores, audio for keynotes, trade shows, and all the way up to virtual reality and mixed reality projects. 

That's amazing stuff, Justin. But can you give us a little bit more background on how you're constantly adapting to all of this changing technology? 

So, I work with a wide variety of clients and projects all over the world, and all of them use different types of software and hardware. So I've made it a point to actually learn all of it-- everything from Ableton, Sonar, Studio One on Mac, PC. So it really helps. 

So, Justin, where do you get your inspiration for your projects? 

Yeah. I'm heavily inspired by artwork and visual artists-- matte painters, animators, 3D, 2D, fine art. So when I see this kind of stuff, I have this need to create. I'll see something really gorgeous and I want to get over to my keyboard as quickly as I can to just kind of get an idea down or compose something. 

It's so cool to hear that you draw your inspiration from other artists, because you're an amazing artist yourself. And I'd like to get some insight into some of that right now. So maybe we can take a look and listen at the work that you're doing. 

Hey, guys. Welcome to my studio. I just kind of wanted to show you my creative space. Here I've got my Marshall amp, my guitar stuff. Of course I've got my little VR HTC. I've got my 4K display for my [INAUDIBLE] and all my software. Actually on the screen what you're seeing is the Roland Cloud. And then of course I've got the CPUs from all my old-school Intel systems. I've got my Intel Extreme i9 system that I'll be testing some Optane products on. And then of course, my baby, the center of my studio is my Roland Jupiter 80. And this thing has all the most beautiful sounds. 


So, these are my bad is from SIGGRAPH and my trip to China, where I was a finalist in the China-US Young Maker competition. And then of course on the Great Wall of China, this is the hat that I wore on the wall. So it was kind of cool to do all the tourist stuff, but also meet all the great engineers and students and creators in China. So it was really cool trip. Really fun. 

I love your space, Justin, and your music is so cool to listen to. Really, thank you for sharing that with us. So, Justin, I want to switch gears here and talk about how you incorporate music into new technologies. Can you explain to us how important sound and music are to game development and VR experiences? 

Yeah, so basically in 2D games, regular video games, you've got a kind of a static expectation for sound. That means like music playing in the background, ambience, but it's playing on devices like tablets and televisions, and you're the users usually holding a controller, looking across the room. So it's sort of a flat experience. 

With virtual reality, it has to be spatial, because you're actually putting someone into this world. They have to wear headphones. You want to actually attach individual WAV files on objects in a scene. So while a typical game might have some gunshots and some dialogue and some basic stuff, with VR you need to pay attention to all of those subtle details. 

Excellent. Can you tell us a bit about some of the projects you've been working on recently. 

So I've been working with two of my fellow innovators-- Justin Link and Ryan Clark on Shapesong this year. It's an interactive musical virtual reality experience. We've actually gotten a lot of awards this year in best of shows, and we showed off a mixed reality version of it at GDC this year that went over really well. I also worked this year with Sony Pictures and CreateVR on the Spider-Man Virtual Reality Experience that launched with the movie. That was really, really cool, and it's available in all the stores for free. 

So, what I like about doing all this stuff is that even just as a composer, an audio guy, I'm branching out into things that are making me better, challenging me, and I like that. I like that this program does that for me. 

Well, Justin, it sounds like you're finding a lot of great opportunities in this space, and it's super cool to hear that you're working with so many innovators worldwide. So, Justin, I just really want to take the time to thank you for talking with us. 

Thanks for having me on your show, and thanks for checking out my creative space. 

You can connect with Justin and see some of his projects by following the link to his DevMesh profile. Also we've included links so you can learn more about the Intel Software Innovator Program, and what Intel is doing in the virtual reality field. 

That wraps up this installment of Innovators of Tomorrow. Be sure to like this video and subscribe to the Intel software YouTube channel to keep learning about the innovators of tomorrow. And on behalf of an amazing crew, thanks for tuning in. I'm Bob Duffy, and catch you next time.