Composer a storyteller first | Giacchino & Abrams | Giacchino in tune with toons | Giacchino scores with games, rides | Composer honored for work with non-profit

Michael Giacchino is the first composer to come out of the videogame arena and make it to the top of the film-scoring world. But he hasn’t shunned games, and he continues to weigh compelling projects outside of film and television.

He’s done five of the war-themed “Medal of Honor” games, one as recently as 2007, says Electronic arts worldwide exec of music Steve Schnur.

“In games,” he explains, “you aren’t writing ‘to picture.’ You aren’t given the lead character. The lead character in an interactive piece is the person who plays it. The composer is writing music to help create an emotional experience for a person that you don’t see.

“Michael is that rare breed of people who started in games, but who was so beyond just being a game-only composer that it was apparent his talent could transcend any medium,” Schnur adds.

While Giacchino doesn’t have any games on his current schedule, that doesn’t mean he won’t do another one. The composer says he goes where the fun is. Disney asked him to work on the new “Star Tours” ride at Disneyland and got an immediate yes.

“I’m a massive ‘Star Wars’ fan,” he admits, adding that he insisted that all the music should be “thematically linked to the movies. You can’t argue with some of the greatest music ever written.”

So while John Williams is supervising the music for the ride itself, Giacchino — who also scored Disney’s “Space Mountain” ride in 2005 — will be “arranging his melodies for certain portions of the ride, when you’re going through the line and they’re playing things on the screens.”

At the same time, Giacchino is beginning to mull over ideas for his second classical commission (he wrote one in 2000 for the city of Camden, N.J.). He is one of five Hollywood composers writing new orchestral pieces for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with his slated to premiere Nov. 4, 2011.

“It’s just creative,” he says. “There are no wrong answers. You can do whatever you want.”

Giacchino is also supervising the work of two proteges, Andrea Datzman and Chris Tilton, who are writing the weekly scores for NBC’s “Undercovers.” And as he did on “Lost,” Giacchino has managed to get a 30-piece orchestra of L.A. musicians, refusing to settle for electronic music like most series.

He remembers “the amazing musicians we got to hear, week after week on TV, when we were growing up. Live musicians bring energy, heart and soul. A sampled violin can never touch you the way a live player can touch you.”