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Dear all,

I am at a crossroads in my life here in the UK where I don't know which career path to choose...

On the one hand, there is Game Audio Development.

On the other, there is Wildlife Sound Recording.

My plan for the not too distant future is to go to University to study either Game Audio Development or Wildlife Film Production.

At the moment, I am registered on two college courses: the first one is a Digital Music Course. The Second is a Wildlife Conservation Course. These will get me into the aforementioned uni courses respectively.

I am having trouble weighing up the pros and cons of each career path as they both seem awesome in their own rights.

Can anyone help me out with some advice on which path I should follow? At the end of the day, they are both the careers of my heart, and they both capture my imagination.

HELP!

Thanks in advance for any advice...

-Zimon.

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10 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

What about doing both? I'd say the game audio will keep you locked to the screen most of the time, so balancing that with some wildlife stuff is a great thing. I am not sure you really have to pick one or the other, since they can also overlap depending what area of game audio you are aiming for. I feel like gameaudio is the one where university could help a lot, whereas wildlife recording may be something you can pretty much teach yourself... no?

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thanks David, I really appreciate the advice. Yeah your right, I could do a little of the Wildlife Sound Recording as part of a Game Audio Career, after all, if I end up working on a title which involves that sort of work, Id be sorted on both fronts. ANd yes, I agree the game audio side of things will definitely keep me locked to a screen for most of the time so getting out on location with a field recorder listening and capturing wild sounds is a great thing whenever I can. Thanks again. –  Zimon Jul 10 '11 at 12:23
    
@david I agree, I'd like to do as much as I can in sound, as long as I enjoy it, cause there'd be no point in doing it otherwise.. –  Stephen Saldanha Jul 10 '11 at 12:45
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All of the experienced game sound people i know (and I know quite a few) have at least some field and studio recording experience. If you wind up in game sound for any period of time, you will wind up spending at least some of your time doing the following:

sound fx cutting sound fx implementation (most of your time is spent here) scouring your sound fx library for a sound that doesnt exist creating a sound that doesnt exist field recording dialog recording dialog editing maybe some dialog directing recording/editing foley learning new tech/ software tools realizing that the new tech/software tools dont do exactly what you want them to cursing your computer/software praying for an audio programmer wondering why that sound you just spent a day cutting isnt sounding right, or playing at all wondering why that sound that was working perfectly last week is not longer making a sound wondering why on one told you about that new beast/gun/vehicle that just got added to the game.

It's a pretty sweet gig all in all.

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If you were to study for a Sound Design degree at University you would have the flexibility to explore both. There are a couple of sound design degrees available in the UK.

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Theres probably more $ in game audio.

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I would personally go for wildlife sound recording. You will have a lot of freedom and get to visit places that you never thought existed. All wildlife work requires a lot of research. I remember hearing a photographer state that a particular eagle defecates just before it starts to fly, making it easy to predict when to be ready for the shot. If you know these things you can capture the sounds more effectively.

When you are working you will need a lot of patience and often will be pushing the equipment to the limits of its abilities. But you will be capturing unique experiences.

You would be surprised how often foley is used for nature documentaries, and another person out there capturing the sounds for real is bonus for us all.

Also creature sound design relies heavily on wildlife recordings, and the wider range of sounds that we have to work with the better. So even if you do specialise in wildlife sound recording you might still be working in game audio development.

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Doing both is an option as both are a growth industry and there is money in both if you work as a contractor rather than on salary. From there you definitely learn the wonders of post sound design as well as interesting on set recording in some great spaces. Also, throughout the years, you can build up an interesting library of wildlife and will have immortalized the sounds of those creatures which have become extinct.

I did some field recording here in South Africa for a film that required authentic animal sounds such as leopard, maraboo stork, worthog, hundreds of vultures feeding etc. I really got a good idea of what some of these animals sounded like in different situations. Explore and have fun!

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Game audio is incredibly difficult to get into, but with a couple of grands worth of kit, you can pretty much set yourself up and create sound libraries that could be potentially be sought after by large companies.

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Game audio is pretty impossible to get into. Nowdays you HAVE to be a composer if you want to be a sound designer and thats only to work on lower titles. If you ever get enough experience and credit from that, the only way to move into bigger titles and an actual job is to know audio implementation programs inside and out while creating sound design and if you can do that, and prove it to someone, then you have to know somebody in the industry who will give you a job. Be prepared for the longhaul and don't assume that you can just get a job.

I suggest you stay in school for a few more years and don't focus on finding employment but rather let employment find you.

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I wouldn't claim it's an easy industry to find employment in, but 'impossible' takes it a bit too far I think ;) There's a lot of sound designers out there who are no composers, including junior ones. It helps to have an understanding of composition, but it's not necessary to be an expert in both. In fact, I personally tend to believe there's only a very select few who are great composers AND sound designers Yet there's a need for both types in the industry. Don't despair :) –  Daan Hendriks Jul 12 '11 at 21:01
    
I agree with Daan. Also, audio implementation is a huge part of the job of game sound design. So yes, you have to know how to use the tools. –  David Rovin Jul 12 '11 at 23:14
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What a beautiful choice to have! :)

It comes down to who you are : those are very different jobs. Do you like to travel around the world (maybe alone)? Are you good at organizing things, maybe a sport amateur (mountain climber, kayaking expert) and a survival freak (not afraid to sleep outside a tent)? If so, the wild life stuff would be for you.

Do you prefer to be at the office at 9.30 drink hot coffee in front of your PC, play around with plug ins all day, speak to real people once in a while? Then the game audio is for you.

No one can answer this for you, I think both projects are great.

About getting into the game industry : At some level, no one will ask you to do sound and music together, those really are two different jobs. However it is of great advantage to know programming and sound integration. I THINK you may have better chances to get an in-house job, not much free lance sound design work at the moment (from what I can tell).

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I kind of do both, in a roundabout sort of way. My "game" sound design so far has been limited to small iOS projects mostly. I've got no desire to try and work my way into big budget title game sound, that's just me. I like small, unusual projects that give me some artistic license. I couldn't stomach working on a single project for years at a time.

On the field recording side, I sell stock libraries and also use the footage for all sorts of other stuff; games, instrument design, listening enjoyment, yoga and meditation CDs, etc.

"Do what you enjoy. If it's good, someone will pay you for it." I think Steven Spielberg said that, or something similar.

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