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I was wondering if anybody could share some of their first experiences and the first projects they worked on for sound design and maybe compare where you are now. Obviously things have changed but can you think of anything that's the same?

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My first "project" was a reality show that my school had shot, aired, and given to us to practice. It's overwhelming the first time you have everything in front of you. You think you know which way you'll go with mic selection, nat-sound, etc. And by the time you're done with a section, it sounds like garbage, your mics were too quiet, you should've lost all the nat-sound and used the SFX library instead.

My teacher was excellent, he saw how I was struggling and gave me the best advice for a post-sound "process" and it's helped me get better, and faster every time. Dialogue, Music, SFX design.....that order. Once your dialogue and music are volume-graphed correctly, it really allows you to get into SFX, and your design.

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First audio project was the first film I ever worked on. I was a script supervisor, but noticed nobody was taking care of audio, so I did both. Bought a shotgun mic and a heavy as heck metal boom pole. It was a terrible shoot and a model for jobs that I should never take, but it was good for a crash course in film audio. I still use the same booming techniques and demand for quiet, but that's about all I took away.

First sound editing was for a feature film that was recorded by an incompetent sound recordist who had faulty wireless mics to boot. I did some really nice forensic work on the film, but it still sounds sub-par. It's one of those that I know I did some cool stuff on if you could hear the before and after, but it's still embarrasing to have my name on it. It was really good working on something so bad - I didn't feel pressure to make it perfect, since that was out of the question, but I was able to try some techniques for noise reduction, etc, that I use now.

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My first sound design project was for a student studying game programming. I started out as a composer and was asked to provide 8 sounds for the project. Those were the hardest 8 sounds to make in my life. Back to basics, microphone, mini-disc recorder, and some editing software and a whole lot of ambition.

Where I am now - Professional sound designer for game companies and freelance composer.

What has changed : Not much, I still love it, I still learn something new almost every day. Knowledge and experience and a lot of titles under my belt are really the main things that have changed.

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My first project, back in my first year of my bachelor in film and tv, was sound post for a short film shot on an old 16mm Bolex with no sync sound. Everyone else used weird, surreal soundscapes or just music, but i went and painstakingly recorded feet and moves and other FX, as well as a little bit of (terrible) score on my guitar. We did the sound edit using insert audio edits on a Umatic tape deck. It was all going ok, until my crazy Norwegian director wanted changes. In making these changes, i also totally screwed up the levels somehow.

I've just been approved for an E3 status, working as a recording engineer/sound editor/mixer in a little sound place in NYC. A long way from Brisbane, Australia! But i still try to learn as much as i can from every situation, and hope to keep things that way.

  • G'day Roger, I'm from Adelaide, in San Francisco – Gr00b3r Sep 15 '10 at 3:44
  • @YB G'day to you too! One of my best friends is from Adelaide; and a few regular friends too. So what brought you over here? E3 visa? – Roger Middenway Sep 15 '10 at 4:04
  • @YB I'm from Corte Madera ;) – Utopia Sep 15 '10 at 5:16
  • I married a yank so work and wife ;) I have 2 friends from Adelaide here in the SFBay and another from Sydney too. Added bonus is you can get Coopers Pale Ale for the same price we pay in Adelaide for it from regular bottle shop "BevMo". – Gr00b3r Sep 15 '10 at 12:01
  • @YB Ahh nice! I know an ex-Sydney and an ex-Perth over in NYC. Small world. Coopers Pale is my beer of choice, but it's hard to find here. A place here called "The Australian" has it on tap, but it was heartbreakingly bad. Can't imagine why... – Roger Middenway Sep 15 '10 at 15:49
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My first video related project came about 5 years after I had been recording music full time. I read up on a few technical issues I might encounter and then just went with my instincts on what sounded good. The audio for the movie turned out pretty well in spite of me! I figured out how to properly set up an ADR session, messed with mic placement for Foley, and just went to town on recording sound effects.

The project took a lot longer than it should have but I learned a heck of a lot and I can look back at it and see how far I've come. But, no way in hell am I ever showing that movie to anyone I know and respect. ;)

  • What about to those you don't respect..? Ancient audio torture? – Chris Sep 16 '10 at 5:46
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My first soundedit was on a steinbeck-machine handling 16mm film and perforoll, every sound had to be manually cut and paste in 8 seperate Audio / Music tracks. then i had to mix these with no automation to 16 track, over and over again i'm happy we have computers now, it was a nervous predicement but the memory of it is great!

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My first "audio" project was in radio at a campus radio station in Canada. I was 14 and my friends and I would attempt to write/record/edit in an old Revox imitations of old Hancock and Goon Show Radio plays. Terribly fun but terribly unfunny!!! I loved working on 1/4 inch tape. My first film project was in 1st year of film school recording on a Nagra V and cutting mag tape on a Steinbeck. Again, slow but fun.

I was drawn to foley very quickly and I set up a make shift sound blanket type tent in a control booth with a 24 track Soundcraft, a Tascam 8 track and a 416. I had to set up under the tent, rush out, set my level (estimated) pushed record on the Tascam, ran back under the tent and did the sound to picture. LOL

Those days are gone but they are definitely some of my fondest memories or experimentation and mistake making.

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