On Friday Andy Quinn from Splash Damage came to talk to us eager students about how he got his job as a sound designer in the games industry! I thought it would be good to put a quick post about some of the key points. There was a lot of good discussion from HDR audio to worldizing sounds. But I’m going to focus on the ‘Tips for budding sound designers’ parts of the talk.
Where to start, well Andy’s blog was an important part of his successful job hunt. I have a blog, but having studied Andy’s in a bit of depth I’ve realized that it’s all about usability! Andy mentioned that the blog should be concise easy to use. Oh and a BIG button which says ‘Portfolio’. The blog ‘Master Of Sound’ can be accessed from http://aquinn.co.uk/wordpress/ It’s not as regularly updated anymore but head through the archive and you’ll very quickly stumble upon something interesting. During the talk Andy mentioned the highlight of his blogging was getting a post put on designingsound.org … man that would make my week (I’ll have to write/make some good stuff then:)!
This leads on to his portfolio. During Andy’s time with us he gave us a good few tips on ‘good practice’ within portfolio creation. For me the main pointer was: Target it at what you want to do! easy right. Well I often struggle to keep it all concise I want to be a sound designer for action games. So I need to do a reel full of action game sound replacement! I have noticed that on Andy’s portfolio he adheres to this well but also shows a good range within his work. He has a trailer for brink (an FPS which he ironically ended up working on) and then a dinosaur game (with some massive roars) which he worked on before getting his job at Splash Damage. The first shows his ability to create an environment in sound and displays he has a good ear for depth. The dinosaur roaring displays his ability to layer sounds in order to create MASSIVE one shots. I also noticed that his portfolio page has the video at the top and then underneath he tells the listener the following things about each piece of the reel:
· How long it took him to make
· How many of the sounds were original
· What combination of sounds were used for layered sounds
Whilst Andy does use library sounds in his portfolio he made it clear that library sounds should be restricted to sounds that are hard to record, for example guns, explosions, plane flyovers (close) etc. A lot of sounds can be recorded with a simple day trip he said. He told us about how he organized a day at an archery range to record sounds. He then joked “just tell them you’re a poor student and they’ll probably do it for free”.
Oh and one final point he made was “Don’t use the Wilhelm Scream!”
Next on the hit list is the importance of showing your face!
Andy spent a while looking for a job and found it a bit of a struggle for a while. His luck changed when going to Develop. Develop is a conference held down in the deep south of england (Brighton), it costs a fair bit and its far away from home… But according to Andy there is free beer… I’m there! Andy talked about how important his preparation for this event was. He decided to make hand outs for the event and brought one of them to show us. I have to admit it was really nifty! It was a business card (with all the relevant information) in a see-through little sleeve with a miniature CD portfolio on it! All of it fits in your wallet! Not like some handouts I’ve seen (A large pair of combat trousers would be required). Another crucial part of his prep was learning names and faces of people he was interested in and could be a handy person to know! If you haven’t figured it out, that’s right… we’re networking!
During his time at the conference he managed to get chatting to a man called Ben Minto! During speaking to him Andy managed to do a bit of what he calls “shameless self promotion” by handing the nifty cd/card combo discussed earlier to Ben. After the event they exchanged some emails and Ben sent Andy’s portfolio to several companies. As a result Andy got 3 job offers! He picked the one which appealed to him most which happened to be Splash Damage. He laughed “I like things that go bang so I chose Splash Damage.”
One final point he made was, show your passion for game audio! So if you’ve read this far you probably: A, have too much time or (more likely) B, love game audio. So show it. Andy told us to get on the forums and when you know an answer to someone’s question answer it. Just get involved.
Thanks to Andy for traveling back up north to speak to us, it’s been very helpful. It was one of those day where you feel one step closer to your goal. Cheers!