Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Practice Makes Prefect

No matter what discipline you want to be good at: athletics, writing, singing, sound design, etc., then you will need to practice.   Contrary to popular opinion, natural ability will only get you so far!!!  No one gets to the top of their game on talent alone.  David Beckham, Michael Schumacher, Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, Ben Burtt - all had to practice their craft.  Becoming a Sound Designer is no different - you will have to practice.  This will do two things: first it will let you hone your technical skills and second it will allow you to train your creative skills and ears.  In other words, the "how" and the "why" of sound design.  So you need to practice generating, synthesising recording and manipulating sounds.  Then practice some more.  Practice, practice, practice!!!!

How you practice will depend on the kind of sound design that you are interested in.  If you want to be a synth programmer then practice creating patches on a broad variety of synthesizers and samplers.  (Do not ignore the manipulation of acoustic sounds.  Working with real sounds is invaluable for learning "how sound works" - an important aspect of being a sound designer.)   Then once the patches have been created, integrate them into productions of some description.  These could be musical compositions, soundscapes, sound sculptures or preferable a mixture of all three.  These productions will give you practice of not only creating sounds, but will also demonstrate how the patches could be used.  This is vital knowledge and will greatly improve your sound design skills.

If on the other hand you want to get into sound design for moving images then take a video clip (film, TV or game), remove the soundtrack and create your own.  Again, not only create the sounds, but integrate them as a new soundtrack so that even if you don't want to work as a sound editor you will be fully aware of the whole post-production process.  You could even practice being a Foley artist.

Not only will these productions be invaluable practice, but they will give you a portfolio of work to show potential clients.  This is always useful as it will allow you to actually demonstrate what you can do across the entire production process.  What is more, as you will have full creative control over the productions it should be a fun and inspiring experience!  So if you are starting along the path towards a career in sound design, then get practicing.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sound Design: To Tweet or Not To Tweet

Now this post might be a bit off topic, but if I'm honest I've never really understood the point of Twitter in any context.  Why would someone want to hear sound bites from me?  Why do I want to hear from others?  For me, what is the benefit?  It is going to cost me time and effort.  Important news is almost instantly lost in a timeline that continually updated.  People seem to tweet so often it just becomes noise (when I hear noise, I just want to process it into something interesting).

However, while on the Social Sound Design site (http://socialsounddesign.com/) the other day, someone asked which sound designers tweet.  To be honest I was amazed at the response.  Within a very short space of time several pages had been filled by fellow sound designers, not only saying they used it, but strongly singing its virtues.  So convincing was it, I started to wonder if I was missing out on something?  Is there more to tweeting than I realised?

At about the same time, on a forum I'd posted details of this blog, someone expressed their frustration that they could not follow the blog without having a Google account.  It struck me that Twitter might give me an opportunity to keep interested parties updated about content on the blog.  So off to Twitter I went and setup a @SoundSculpting account and I followed all the sound designers that had left their usernames on the Social Sound Design post.  This instantly put me in direct contact with other like minded people working in the same field.  Now I'm not saying I'm a complete convert (there is still a fair bit of noise - some of these people need to spend more time working and less time browsing), but I'm starting to see the benefit.  As I've just said, I have instant access to the sound design community.  This means I'm now getting updates of articles, job opportunities, new tools, projects others are working on and just general sound related musings.  This can be important for two reasons: first if you are new to the field and are an aspiring Sound Designer then it is a good way to build-up contacts and find out what others that already work in the area do.  Second, if you are already working in the field and tend to work with the same people, it is easy to become very insular.  Talking to others in the field gives the "cross-fertilization" that can be so vital in getting the creative juices flowing.  Find out what others are doing, how they are doing it and why they are doing it.  This can be a truly liberating experience and even if you have years of experience, you may learn something new.  You are never too old to learn.

Now as you may have noticed I have added a Twitter follow button to this blog.  If you want to be kept up-to-date with the blog and what I'm working on, then press the button.  Now I'm really keen that I don't just end up generate needless noise, however I will tweet about updates to this blog and other sound design related stuff that I think will be of interest to blog followers.  Equally if you have comments or sound design items I might be interested in then I look forward to hearing from you.