Hi there, I went to a 4 year college and have just graduated with a bachelor's degree in Piano Performance and a large concentration in music composition. During the course of my studies I became very interested in sound design and have been doing my own little projects that have now blossomed into a nice portfolio to shop to grad schools. It includes two videos that I nabbed from creative commons and did sound design for. It includes a piece of sound art I composed a la musique concrete (the style that got me into sound design). It also includes some film scoring that I did. I wrote very detailed explanations of all my audio choices and I tried to avoid using too many musical concepts, keeping it more technical and aesthetic.

All sound adds up to about 6 minutes total.

First question: does that seem to be an acceptable compilation for a grad portfolio?

I now am looking at two schools: SCAD and Vancouver Film School.

I am at a bit of a fork in the road. I feel I have very strong abilities in regards to more linear sound design (ie. my composition background), but I want to get some exposure to nonlinear because it is my dream to do sound design for game worlds.

SCAD is more film-oriented, but I can take lots of electives. Plus an MFA would be cool. Perhaps more job security. I like job security haha VFS is uber expensive and seem to be the game school..... but, what if I wind up liking linear more? hehehe

Honestly, SCAD is hyper expensive, too, but I notice they give out some nice scholarships.

Any thoughts on which school would be a better choice?


3 Answers 3


Let me give you a first hand opinion as a graduate of VFS.

Their film is solid, as they will teach you very good formatting and organization. They also get you out working on set as production audio for multiple short films with the film campus. Equipment wise, they are on top of the game. Icon in the mixing theatre, 003's for their foley and adr rooms, x4 5.1 mixlabs, and good mics to boot.

Music production IS NOT part of the school, as I have my bachelors music production and technology from Middle Tennessee State University. They touch on topics and practices, but only in good relevancy, such as signal flow, analog routing and patching, and others that can be applied to sound design as a whole and really is just a good thing to know in general.

There are a TON of side projects to be had, as you are in close proximity to many other programs there, and they all need sound. So the opportunity to grow you portfolio is very much a plus.

Most teachers are all part time, and they are very much a part of the industry. However, this is a 2 way street as you definitely have to get used to their personalities. These are not professors, these are instructors. Some of them, depending on your personality, can take the entire year to get used to.

I was there when 6 instructors were cut from the roster, some for good reason, others for not so good reasons. My belief is that they were cutting full time to save money on benefits/higher salaries.

This leads me into the money issue. This place is expensive. Rent is *----- stupid. I paid 935 bucks a month for a place near the school, and others werent that far behind if not paying more than myself. The school, if you are a US citizen, is outrageous with tuition. I lucked up since the exchange rate was in my favor when I paid tuition - I saved about 20%

Now to game audio. They have taken great strides towards focusing on this discipline, but when I left it was only getting organized and narrowing their curriculum. They teach a bit on Fmod and Wwise, some on UDK. My main experience in game audio came by actually working on a project with the game design program and not from the classes. However, they are serious about this area of sound and they can only develop it more - its not going away thats for sure.

My rating for people with NO background in audio is a 7/10 for the school. If you have a previous sound degree, I give it an 8/10. I found this to be a great supplement to my previous education, although it may be harder for people who are new to audio to really dive into everything and work on a ton of projects - audio is definitely a field where you need FIRST a solid base understanding to really progress with your style and develop your sound.

Hope this helps. If you can shell the cash, it really is a cool experience. Will it help you land a job just by putting it on a resume? Probably not, but catapults your experience with working on a ton of projects, a ton of people, dealing with a lot of different situations, forcing you to find out what works for you and what doesnt, developing your workflow, etc -all within a short span of time which may have taken someone else years to gather the same amount of projects by poking around on the internet for remote projects (Unless you live in a high traffic media city like NYC LA Chicago, etc. All this experience helps a ton when you DO land that first job. You are more prepared to deal with what may come at you.


Hi Hundred Hundred

I can't talk about scad as i dont know it. VFS is not a game school. It does have a good game audio curriculum but very intensive on film. Now if you excuse me i'll copy paste another answer i gave a while back to this question

I took the Vancouver Film School Sound Design Program; graduated in october 2009.

It's quite different now. Really very different, as most of my instructors aren't there anymore and the curriculum is different as well. A friend of mine that was TAing overthere told me it was really good! At least all the things i didn't like about the prgram changed dramatically... In my opinion there was to much music theory and production (though the instructors were great!) and the game audio curriculum was painfully bad and unorganized. Not anymore!

They also have one more small mixing room, this one with a procontrol while the other 4 have control 24, and the Theater has an icon now. They're also a bit more well equipped with microphones now, and they have sounddevices 722 recorders.

I have to say i had an insanely great time over there learned a ton, and was really lucky as my classmates were absolutely great! It's super intensive two, in my last 2 months term me and most of my classmates were sleeping on average 3 hours a night.... But then again all of us did many side projects at all times.

It's a great great place to meet people from other fields like 3d and classical animation, film production, business management etc.

(The city is amazing to, i thought it was expensive at a time, but now that i'm in new york i laugh about that :D )

Hope that helps a bit.

  • @Filipe Chagas -- Do you think it has helped you professionally? That's my biggest question when looking at grad school. I'm about to graduate with a Bachelor's in Film, and now I'm wondering if Grad school's worth it.
    – Miles B.
    Dec 8, 2010 at 6:56
  • @Miles, that's an interesting question! I've been working with a lot of NYU students, and the other day i was talking with someone on set, i told him that working with them made me want to go to school again, to which he replied, "the most valuable thing about school is to meet lots of people, and you're already doing that." It does feel like that looking back, depends on your situation i suppose. Dec 22, 2010 at 5:04
  • 1
    @Filipe DUDE! I didnt even notice that this was you! I remember going to your graduation! How have you been man?!
    – C3Sound
    Dec 23, 2010 at 8:14
  • 2
    @C3Sound haha, yeah i remember hanging out with you and Augie! I'm good, i'm in New York interning at a studio and doing freelance stuff... where are you now? Give me a shout: [email protected] Dec 23, 2010 at 16:22

C3 and Filipe have already done a great job answering your question, but I thought I'd chime in with yet another VFS perspective as I'm still here and on the tail end of some of the changes in the curriculum they both mentioned.

Things here are definitely still very very film focused. I think this is more to do with the availability of quality, experienced instruction in this field (guys who have been cutting and mixing for 30 years and just don't want the hours anymore) vs. game audio, in which most of the all-stars are still working full-time.

You will be using Audiokinetic's Wwise pretty heavily throughout, and get to know it pretty well. Though I feel that if I had just spent a solid week going through all the Wwise tutorials out there, I might get to about the same level I'm at now. Maybe that's more of a testament to Wwise's learning curve than anything. You will basically open FMOD, UDK and Unity each for one or two classes, learn some simple implementation in each using pre-selected example files, and move on - Wwise is the only middleware you'll have actual graded projects in. It is stuff you could learn yourself, honestly.

Best reason to come right now, if you're into games, would be to take advantage of VFS' fast growing game design campus and basically enslave yourself to them for the sake of networking and experience. There are around 6+ final game projects happening every couple of months, and if you were really impassioned you could probably wrangle your way onto 3 of them by year's end. That'd make you some contacts and give you a couple of nice line items for your C.V. and minutes for your demo reel.

If you can compose music, you will be the most popular guy around. EVERYONE's midterms and finals need music - the film campus, the game campus, the 3D animation campus.. do a few small pieces early on, network well, and you will be drowning in potential music work for your reel. You won't be able to say "yes" to everything. If composing is something you want to chase...

If you're concerned about being swayed towards linear sound by year's end (I nearly have been; a couple of the post sound teachers are super inspiring), you will still be in good hands. Like it said, it's still mostly a program for film sound, and I can't see that much that they're doing wrong there.

(Filipe and C3 probably have more insight into this, but I'm pretty sure than neither an MFA from SCAD nor a certificate from here will guarantee you a job in this field! That comes with time, talent, and a good network of contacts.. not a piece of paper.. or so I'm told.)

Sorry this was so verbose! There's even more for me on the topic over at Advice for a beginner. (I know, I know..) if you want to read it.

Good luck!

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