Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sound Design Portfolios

In my last post I tried to clearly define what a portfolio is and its purpose.  Having done this it is now time to start considering what this means for a sound design context. A sound design portfolio is not that different really to any other portfolio, except that many, although not all, of the artefacts will have a high media content.  This is likely to be different to other more academic disciplines, where the content range maybe less diverse.  For example, a sound design portfolio might contain elements of the following different types of media: audio recordings and tracks, samples, MIDI files, FX libraries, DAW projects, synthesizer patches, FX chains, videos, photos, FX and track list, scores, scripts, showreels, animations, sound installations etc.  As can be seen this is an extremely diverse range and some of these may not naturally lend themselves to digital delivery.

As well as considering the different artefact types that are likely to be required in a sound design portfolio, it is also worth considering what is required from both the student and the tutor perspectives.  In doing this I am very much thinking about my students and me as their tutor, but if you think I've missed anything then please let me know.

Sound Design Students

My undergraduate Music & Audio Technology students start developing a Sound Design Portfolio in their first year and continue through their studies.  However, in the first year this is what it is required:
  • Planning what sounds need to be created to meet the brief and consideration of how the individual sounds will work together in the final content 
  • Log individual sound elements, complete with providing an inspiration for the sound created and details of how it was made and produced
    • Audio tracks, MIDI, patches, samples
  • Final content showing how the individual sound elements have been integrated together to create a final piece
    • DAW Projects, track lists and/or FX lists, final mixdown  
  • Formal report giving precise details of how one of the individual sounds was created and exactly how it was integrated into the final content
  • Provide a mechanism for students to reflect on what has been achieved
  • Allow additional media content to be retained
    • Images, videos, scores, scripts    
The portfolio should provide space for all of these individual elements to be formulated and developed over a period of time - like a true "workspace".

Tutor Requirements

As a tutor of sound design these are the elements that would be expected of a sound design portfolio:
  • Able to upload or embed different documents or media
  • Provide storage for work in progress
  • Allow formative feedback, ideally at corresponding points in the audio content
  • Support for networking and conversation between both students and tutors
  • Ability to keep some parts private and make others public
  • Provide wider networking between to students and the "outside" world
  • Give confidential summative feedback and final grade
  • Allow the work to be showcased to the wider world when completed

Having given this a bit of thought, for me the key to effectively using a portfolio as a "workspace" is providing the students a space to "develop".  This takes time so an important part of a portfolio assessment process is engaging students so they use the portfolio over an extended period of time.  As well as giving them time, they need stimulus to develop.  It seems that this will come from three areas:
  1. Student based reflection
  2. Formative feedback from the tutor
  3. Collaboration between students and the wider world
Any portfolio system must provide a mechanism to foster all three of these area.

1 comment:

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