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I'm currently doing some pedagogic research into portfolio systems for our undergranduate sound students. For this I am considering the portfolio more as an academic "workspace", rather than a "showcase" (http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/balancingarticle2.pdf). With this in mind I am now starting to ask the question "what features do sound design students require in a portfolio?" Although I have lots of current students I will be asking this question to, as they are still in the academic "process" they may not have had time to reflect what they really require. Considering this I thought it would be worth asking the question here as well. These are the normal academic elements that portfolios try to foster:

  • Planning and setting goals
  • Capturing and storing evidence
  • Collaboration
  • Giving and receiving feedback (formative)
  • Reflections
  • Presenting to an audience

So as real sound designers, when you were students and/or learning your craft, how important were these? Is there anything not covered here? Are there any additional things that creating a sound design portfolio gives? Are there any specific features that a sound design ePortfolio needs to posses?

Thanks for any input you can give.

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3 Answers 3

I think it's interesting to make the distinction between an academic portfolio and a professional portfolio. I see that the latter tends to usually focus purely on the product whereas in an academic learning environment I understand that it's more important to focus on the processes, because those are what are being taught. In art disciplines it however becomes a bit confusing, because there aren't necessarily right or wrong ways in doing things and the product is what generally matters in the professional world. So one might question the need for presenting anything else than the product. And one might question the reason for an academic portfolio to be something else than what's used in the professonal world.

I would, however, like to see more of the academic style portfolios in the professional world, because focusing only on the product really only tells what you ended up with, not how you did it and how you work. I think opening up the process becomes very important when collaborating with other people, because it demonstrates that you're able to communicate about your work and can systematically plan the work process (very important when working with others and in larger projects). I think it also clearly adds to the credibility of the person in the professional world when he/she demonstrates the ablility to break down the process and reason his/her intentions and talk about best approaches and practices. And I don't believe there's simply much need to "hide" anything, it just isn't the point, especially when working with "non-audio artist" clients or other artists. And good communication skills (written and verbal) are always valued and a good way to demonstrate those is to write and/or speak about the work. I would see more process-describing portfolios advantegous for standing out from the crowd when most of the portfolios only showcase products and I think employers and other artists could be increasingly interested in people that demonstrate good work-ethics, versatility with different methods and good communication skills rather than are just "able to get stuff done".

I, however, am not sure how to go in combining those two types of portfolios (product- and process-oriented) in a concise way. Many people seem to keep personal blogs to describe more of the processes and then have a simpler portfolio (e.g. a video demoreel) that simply shows the products. As you know, the intention is to keep the product-portfolio simple enough so that it's fast to view. I don't see some kind of hybrid approach bad though, because I think there are advantages in process-oriented portfolios in the professional world, when kept reasonable, as described above.

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Thanks for your answer-you make some interesting points. In the link I posted the author considers the two faces of the portfolio as "workspace" and "showcase". I guess the "workspace" can definitely be considered an academic space. However, thinking about it, it seems that the "showcase" (presenting the product) could be either academic or professional. If you had a choice of what could be put in the "showcase" then you cover both bases. The other interesting distinction you make is a portfolio for an art disciplines. I guess that a distinction needs to be made here between other areas? –  Bit Depth Jun 18 '12 at 20:02
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The reality is that the client generally has a very short amount of time to spent finding out about the processes that were used to arrive at the final product. It is generally other creatives who are interested in this, thus the poularity of blogs in our field. The other elements that have been discussed, such as collaboration, communication etc. will generally be carried with your reputation via networking, rather than be on display via a portfolio. –  Colin Hunter Jun 18 '12 at 20:57
    
@Bit The portfolio culture is very tied to art discplines so I don't see how there would be portfolio formats to compare to in other discplines (e.g. engineering), it's a different culture. Your original question was about what a portfolio should include, but the format you're proposing is an academic portfolio, which is not how portfolios are presented in general in the professional world, as Colin points out. So either there are two distinct types of portfolios here or then you might be looking in defining a hybrid format that's compatible with the academic needs and the working field. –  Internet Human Jun 18 '12 at 22:13
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@Bit What are you exactly trying to do? Looking to introduce the students to a portfolio format that they can use to present their work or use a portfolio as a way of following the students' learning (the academic format)? –  Internet Human Jun 18 '12 at 22:41
    
@Colin Thanks for the comment. You make a good point about reputation via networking. For this reason blogs are starting to be used as an element to a portfolio. I think for sound design this is a vital element? –  Bit Depth Jun 20 '12 at 19:27

http://shownd.com/ - Free

Vimeo - Free

Soundcloud - Free

Not sure if these are really what you are looking for. I just made my own website when I was in school and had links to clips on vimeo.

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Kevin - Thanks for the replay, but that's not really what I'm after as I'm aware of (and use) these technologies. What I'm really after in the pedagogic process. What do these technologies add to the process and what is missing? –  Bit Depth Jun 13 '12 at 20:03

As I've not had much response from my original post I have tried to expand my thoughts in a couple of blog posts:

http://sound-sculpting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/what-is-portfolio.html

http://sound-sculpting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/sound-design-portfolios.html

As I've said these are just my thought so I'm keen to know what you think. Is there anything not covered here? Are there any additional things that creating a sound design portfolio gives? Are there any specific features that a sound design ePortfolio needs to posses?

Thanks for any further input.

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