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I was curious how many of you went to school (and where about if so) and how many of you picked up your craft in another way (how so?).

Cheers!

43 Answers 43

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I went to NZFTT Film School in Christchurch in 1990 - my theory is this: if you are going to be a film sound editor, then you need to learn to be a film maker. Sound may be your chosen field, but to actively collaborate in the process of film making you need to have at least a basic understanding of all the other roles....

  • I took your advice and Scott Gershin's, I'm joining SouthSeasFTV in NZ next year :). Scott also mentioned a good point on why you should join film school, he was saying you never know one day you may meet some talented director(s) who might make it into the business, and when looking for someone to do their sound they would probably remember working with you on school projects and most likely keep in contact and hire you to work on their future projects. – Stephen Saldanha May 14 '11 at 11:40
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This might be a little long winded, but I think I have likely some interesting and unique insight to the question and the information you seek.

Well, I never attended school for Audio (sort of,like I said... my situation is a bit unique). I started making "Industrial" music (music made mostly with found sounds, samplers, synthesizers and effects) and started working in recording studios by the time I was 17. I realized that I loved sound for picture just as much due to it's similarities with the type of music I was making, where the entire world of sound is your instrument. It took me a while before I was able to secure employment (in the audio industry) where I could get by financially and it took several (re: many unpaid and low paid) internships, but I really value my experiences and I think I made the most of them.

I started this on the cusp of "Recording Engineering Schools" becoming a prominent and now almost "accepted" thing. I essentially grew up in Winter Park, FL. Which is the home to Full Sail. When I was 18/19 I wanted to go there but I couldn't afford it and thus couldn't attend. I spent the next 10 years working in Music and Post studios, working in a synth museum, getting my hands on any project I could (hopefully it paid). Did sound design for ride installations at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Disney World... Industrial work for Lockheed Martin. Actually, a lot of what I did was on the cusp of many other things as well. When I first started it was the mid-90's and the advent of Analog to Digital... and I was in a decent growth market area that then crashed hard after 9/11. I got to learn the best of both technologies, see the struggle to adapt to these seriously new technologies, then the struggle to adapt to the new economy. It's been rough, but I've learned a lot and I'm still here.

10 Years after my start at the synth museum at 17 I was then called upon to go teach audio post at Full Sail. So oddly, after 10 years of wanting to go there, I finally got my "Full Sail" experience, except it was from the other side of the desk. And being someone who had to beg and fight for every scrap of info that they learned over the previous 10 years; from observing the students there over the course of 2.5 years teaching there... I have realized that an education (no matter what your focus/major is) is only what you make of it. I had amazing students that were sponges trying to soak up every bit of info that any of us had to offer and then there were students that felt like they didn't have to work for it or that they were entitled because of how much money they paid to be there. Some I would hire, some I wouldn't. It really depends on a multitude of things.

One major flaw that many of the students had was that after they graduated they thought they were "experts". A formal education is only an introduction. Almost any profession (and especially Audio) is a craft that is mostly learned "hands-on" through trial and error. It's 1/2 Science and 1/2 Art. Hence why we are an internship/apprentice based industry that hasn't had a traditional "formal education/curriculum" until the past 15 years. What it really is is an opportunity to get your hands on equipment that only the combined tuition of many students can buy. The chance to soak up information from a mass group of experienced professionals centrally located in one area where if you really dig and push them for it, you can learn even more than the average student. It's a chance to have an accelerated opportunity to learn things in 2 years that took me 4-6yrs on my own out in the real world. It's also a chance to meet people that you may spend the rest of your life working with.

It's far too common for instructors/teachers to be apathetic, especially if they've been in the industry and educational field for a while and/or if they're underpaid. If you don't care about your education, neither will they. If you fight for it you will earn their respect and they will go above and beyond for you. Some of them will initially go the extra mile and try and get you interested (I am/was one of those teachers), but you really only get one shot with that. You have to want to make the most of it and no one can care for you. I've seen students graduate on to massive Hollywood films and Academy Awards and Platinum Records to ex-students who now work at Fast Food joints. It's all what you make of it.

If I were considering hiring anyone to work for me the things I would consider is whether or not they pay attention, how well they listen, how dedicated they are, how much do they care about the quality of their work and are they capable of learning how to improve these things? I could care less if your work isn't groundbreaking as long as you have the aptitude to listen and learn. You could be the next Ben Burtt, but if you can't listen, learn, or you're apathetic to work ethic or you have an ego the size of Russia, then I'd rather have someone with less experience, that might not be able to pull it off 100% yet... but can be trained and encouraged. Work ethic and comprehension go a long way. Skills and experience help as well, but they can also be a drawback.

In the end, in reality all it still really boils down to is "how well do you know your stuff, how good of a job can you do, how well can you listen and learn as well as how fast can you do it and for what price?"

A degree means nothing if you can't use it to your advantage. Sure, it may show some people you're dedicated and can complete a project (even if that project is simply your degree program). The situation may make you contacts and it may accelerate the amount of time you spend learning certain concepts, but if you still suck after that or you didn't and don't take advantage of your opportunities then none of it matters.

Anyways... that's my shiny two cents from someone who's been on both sides of the desk from a rather unique perspective.

  • Good post! Reminds me of what what instructor told me long ago, which I have seen ring true for my experiences as well as when I consider crewing up - "You're only as good as your last show" – Stavrosound Sep 17 '11 at 10:32
  • that synth museum in Orlando was sick. i rolled in there with a dat machine back then and sampled for a few hours. i remember the one room looking like a metal spaceship. i also wonder if Matt is still running Park Ave Cd's in Winter Park. He had ridiculous taste in music. – Brad Dale Dec 13 '12 at 22:42
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Currently a student at Vancouver Film School's Sound Design Program.

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I did an undergrad BA in film and tv at Queensland College of Art, then a MA in Sound Design at AFTRS (Australian Film, TV and Radio School). People seem to put down film school, but good teachers and a flexible/up-to-date curriculum can really funnel that knowledge into your head.

  • Hey, how was the AFTRS course? i was planning on applying for it maybe for next year. what sort of level should you be at?\ cheers – Third Earth Jul 13 '11 at 12:00
  • @Jamie AFTRS was great. They've changed the course quite a bit since i went, and it's pretty expensive now (by aussie standards). The classes are still pretty small, at 6-8, and you have Chris McKeith (a very talented guy, and great teacher) as head of sound. It's aimed at people with some industry experience, but just go for it. Sometimes it takes a few years to get in, but keep trying if you want it. I had some awesome opportunities, and gained some very talented friends. – Roger Middenway Jul 13 '11 at 18:16
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I did a National Diploma in "Popular Music", and a BA in "Music, Technoloy and Innovation". Most of this time was spent playing around with different microphones, hardware and Software packages and gaining confidence in using them. We also learnt alot about acoustics which I do still think about when working.

I have certainly learnt more since working in the real world. But to get those real world jobs you need to be able to prove that you are interested in the area that you want to work in. Qualifications do help this, but are not a guarantee to get the job.

After Uni, I interned a few times and ran alot of my own sound recording projects, set up a blog and podcast just to show employers I am interested in what I am doing. I then started to do unpaid projects with other people to build contacts and experience. This was the most important part of my CV and receives alot of attention during interviews.

I think going to University gave me the confidence to go out and build my portfolio and experience. If I hadn't have gone to University I would probably not have gone down a different route. But that is how I am and the opportunities that I have had. I have met many other people who haven't been to University and still do a great job at what they do.

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I received a BA in Sound Design/Audio Post-Production from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

While the classes were alright, I learned the most by spending my weekends in the school's studios and out on set. Academics can only prep you so much for what goes on in the real world, and by simply getting out and doing it, you can learn much more.

  • I did grad. work there. When did you graduate? – Shaun Farley May 26 '11 at 15:28
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I am in my graduation year for around 4 years... I still need to pass 2 classes! I was in the Music Technology and Acoustics department in Crete, Greece. I am happy i was there cause i got all the necessary knowledge i needed afterwards.

I am still not interested to get my diploma though cause it has actually not value at all... I learned afterwards that diplomas are not valuable, but knowledge is! (of course that is my point of view and might not apply for other countries / personalities)

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It was the school of hard (loud?) knocks for me.

I studied Computers in college and worked as a programmer (finance industry), for a while. Then quit and interned for free on the picture editing side of an indie film. Then I moved over to sound (I always knew I was more interested in sound than picture). After that, I volunteered my time at a small NYC studio in exchange for access to equipment late at night. I struck a deal at that studio where I could bring in late night clients if the studio got 50% and I still worked days for free.

Eventually I got a pro-tools rig and paying day jobs and became a free-lancer in NYC. Got into games by luck. Now I mostly do game audio, but still do the occasional audio post or scoring gig.

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I'm nearly finished my Masters Degree in Sound for the Moving Image at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. I Studied Music technology for my undergrad course.
The Biggest piece of advice i could offer you is that altough courses give you the knowledge and to some extent practical know how - it wont guarentee you a job.
College will give you the understanding to know what you're talking about on set or in the studio but dont proclaim you're any sort of expert once you leave. there is a HUUUUUGE difference between real like and college life and i think thats something that people have to recognise. most of the people i did my undergrad with dont have jobs in the industry because they werent given a job on a plate when they left - in a sad way it is about who you know, but thats only to get your foot in the door, once you are recognised your work will speak for itself. :)

Hope that helps!

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Still deciding on a school. I've wanted to attend Vancouver Film School's SD program for a while now, but I don't think as an American student I'll be able to secure any loans, which is such a shame... Still looking into it.

Does anybody on here have any unbiased opinions/experiences with Video Symphony in LA? I've heard good and bad. Seems mostly geared toward to the technical side of things with very little sound design/film-post training. I feel like I've looked at every audio school in the country this week!

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Great site, great posts and a good honest, sincerely helpful vibe. I wanted to switch careers and looked into a few programs, the SAE, IAR, Tuoro and The Recording Connection (being in nyc).

Went to all the schools, sat in on classes, did my due diligence, talked to as many working folks in the field and felt that the Recording Connection was the most direct, affordable route.

The institution behind the RC has problems, I'm well aware. But I think they're approach and methodology is sound. I could be totally wrong about this.

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Never went to school for audio.

I had played the guitar from age 5 to present and came down to Los Angeles after graduating high-school a year early when I was 17 in hopes to "make it" in the entertainment industry. I gave myself a year before I went back home with my tail between my legs to go start college. I immediately got a job renovating a music studio and asked if I could work there and got declined because they wanted "already trained professionals". I then continued nagging and showing up and persistently demonstrated I wanted to learn and they hired me. I started as a recordist and now I'm a re-recording mixer and ADR mixer here, as well as a fully trained music recordist and mixer with many albums under my belt. My musical ear has been a huge leg up on my learning and training and all of my training has been apprenticeships and learning on the job - no film school, no audio school, never went back home to start college. I've been here ever since and never looked back.

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I attended Columbia College Chicago graduated with a BA in Film and Video. They have a concentration of Audio for Visual Media but I took sound classes of my own choosing. They also have a BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics witha concentration in Audio for Visual Media.

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I graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1992 with a degree in Music Production & Engineering. The knowledge and experiences I gained from that major set me on the path to post-production sound, first for commercials and television and eventually to feature films and games.

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I completed the Master Recording Program at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences. It's a full-time, fast-paced, intensive 10 month (approx.) program that focuses more so on the art of capturing quality sound at the source (mic techniques, phase alignment, wave theory, etc.) than sound design, per se. Much more emphasis on music production than on-set or post-production audio, but they do set aside 3 weeks dedicated to post (introductions to ADR, Foley, sync, etc.). The internship placement program is a nice bonus, as well. Plus, it's one of the last remaining schools to teach analog alongside digital. Even though analog is basically dead to the post world, I would argue that having that understanding of how things are/were done in the analog realm can give you a leg up, or at the very least, a greater understanding of the different levels of a constantly evolving medium and how those levels relate to each other (not to mention, a huge heaping amount of respect for the ground-breakers that came before us, that we all try so hard to emulate, that cut all of their work on tape). I recommend, however, you're only going to take away as much as you're willing to put in because they cram in an immense amount of knowledge in such a short time span that if you try to coast your way through it you won't be successful. From there, it was a mixture of luck, timing, skill, persistence, and attitude that helped land me my gig at a post-production studio in L.A. that handles mostly network television and indie film. Being a musician, I already had a base understanding of sound, but without school I would not be where I am today (partially because I wouldn't have had the confidence to move across the country chasing a "dream" job) and more importantly, now I'll never have to wait tables again! (*knocks on wood)

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Nope and it hasn't hurt my career at all.

I often say, "College was the best twenty weeks of my life". As far as sound goes either you've got that creative spark or you don't. If you don't then no amount of school is going to help you. The vast majority of my favorite sound designers and FX editors have little or no formal schooling at all.

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Well, I'm currently going to school for sound at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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I graduated from the Recording Workshop (Chilicothe Oh) in 2000. audiio engineering

  • Same Here. Late Fall '09 – user385 May 14 '11 at 0:45
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IAV- Instituto de Audio e Video (Audio and Video Institute, altho there's no video classes at all LOL) in Brazil :) FANTASTIC school! Did Fundamentals of Audio and Pro Tools courses :)

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I graduated from the National Danish Film School in 2001, where I studied sound.

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Currently studying at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). 3 weeks left to go!

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Currently in my graduation year sound design at The school of arts Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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HND on Sound Production at Jewel&Esk Valley College in Edinburgh, BSc Honours Degree on Digital Media at Edinburgh Napier University, and currently doing a Masters on Sound Design at the University of Edinburgh.

  • @Marco How are you finding their programme? I'm considering attendingthe course after saving up a bit, so hopefully in 3 years.. :) – Kurt Human May 19 '11 at 22:23
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Graduated, BA Degree in Sound arts and design at University of Arts London, London College of Communication.

I do not recommend it if you wish to do go into post production for film. On the other hand if you enjoy recording and sound art, go!

  • too much emphasis on the sound art ? – Pretaeperon May 14 '11 at 14:01
  • Yes, I loved the course, it was very interesting, graet teachers and everything I learnt is stuff people working in sound should atleast know about, but there was little to no technical help in the way of post production for picture. – edmatthews82 May 15 '11 at 17:16
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AAS in sound technology from South Plains College in Levelland.

I learned all of my fundamentals there - acoustics, mic theory, signal flow, electronics, troubleshooting, basic mixing, etc.

From there I interned, got hired and started learning at warp speed on the job. Still learning as fast as I can 12 years later.

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I had a few sound classes in my undergrad curriculum in multimedia but learned most everything about professional audio work on the job at an unpaid internship which shortly thereafter turned into full-time job.

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I studied sound engineering in Universidad Vicente Perez Rosales, Santiago of Chile. I had the luck to have amazing teachers.

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I studied film with a specialization in sound in USC's Cinema School graduate program. I'll be paying back my student loans for a looooong time, but I wouldn't be a sound designer without having gone through it. The sound faculty is excellent and I learned a lot while I was there.

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BA in Telecommunications (which was the department that housed the TV and Radio/audio programs) from Michigan State University.

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Studied at Leeds Metropolitan University 2005 - 2008 (BSc): "Creative Music and Sound Technology".

Quite a broad course of sound design: Music Recording/Film Post/Audio/Interactive Audio Design/Electro Acoustic Music/Psycho Acoustics.

Fully recommend great tools and facilities and most importantly great teachers!!

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