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.