#noisevember 2020 01: What I Didn't Know
Usually for my first Noisevember post of the year, I try and do something ultra spooky since we're still so close to Halloween, and what could be more utterly terrifying than talking about the frankly phenomenonal amount of work it takes to do what I do?
This post is going to be part blog, part self-congratulatory pat on the back, part listing of all the skills I've accquired so far and (hopefully!) part checklist of skills which anyone working towards being a freelance sound designer can learn from.
"But Eoghan, you pasty white glass of refreshing cold milk on a hot summer evening (thanks Akash) , this list is HUGE and there are things in here I have never even considered necessary for this job!" It's cool. I hear you.
There are two takeaways here. The first is that if you're studying anything adjacent to sound design (game audio, sound engineering, music-related stuff, etc.) a huge number of these skills will be developed both as part of your curriculum (mainly the tech skills, such as becoming savvy at Pro Tools) and also naturally alongside your coursework (mainly the soft skills, such as working as part of a team).
The second thing to remember is that I still don't know everything included on this list, and the things I do know I didn't learn overnight. Or in one month, or even a year. I've been doing this for a long time now and I've cobbled these skills together piecemeal over a long period. This craft is always an ongoing process of iterative learning and developing old and new skills. It never stops. And that's where a huge part of the satisfaction comes from: looking back over your older work and seeing how far you've come. It's cathartic.
So how does this list work?
The way I've structured the list is by listing a skill, followed by a very shorthand breakdown in brackets. This can include the most important aspects of the respective skill, such as a piece of software or understanding of a certain technique, but these breakdowns are by no means comprehensive. For the sake of clarity, time, and sanity, there's no way I could list literally everything that could be included here.
The criteria for inclusion on this list is that I have spent a not-insignificant amount of time learning the respective skill via tutorials, books, practice, etc. Also, it's worth noting that some of these skills are things that pretty much everyone should know anyway, for example, interview skills and building a good CV/resumé, but I'll include them to bloat the list because this is still a Halloween post and I'm legitimately still trying to scare the shit out of you. Enjoy!
OK no more rambling, here's the list of the things I THOUGHT I would have to know to land sweet gigs:
And with these completely comrephensive skills I would just swan around the world breezing in and out of incredible jobs, my peers praising every game I worked on, companies begging me to come work on their projects. Uh no, it didn't exactly happen that way.
Here's the list of things I ACTUALLY needed to know:
General Game / Tech:
Networking / Getting Work:
Business / Personal:
Phew. And I'm certain there will be skills on here I've missed.
Hopefully if you're just dipping your toe into the vast paddling pool of game audio, this list can give you an idea of what skills are good to know depending on where you exactly you see yourself being in a few years. If you can't see that far into the future right now, no problem, just start from the top down and explore from there. These are somewhat listed in order of importance.
Finally, just to reiterate a couple of points from above, this isn't an all-encompassing list of everything you need to know. Everyone's journey through this craft is wildly different and is gonna take them in a huge variety of directions. Some people won't ever need to know how to set up a business or how to grow a social media presence. Some people will be naturals at public speaking and never have to put time and effort into figuring it out. Some people will have to learn software and techniques I've never even heard of. This is purely a list of the skills required on the path I have personally taken so far.
If you're in college right now and just learning nothing but Pro Tools, for example, don't freak out over focusing on one piece of software and not others. A lot of software skills are super transferable, particularly with DAWs, and NO ONE comes out of college knowing all of this stuff. Not even close.
Anyway, most importantly, it's great if you're learning Pro Tools, because it makes the transition to Reaper a good bit easier.
Thanks for reading,