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?).
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I attended AFDA in Cape Town, South Africa, where I took a sound design major. towards the end of my degree I was totally burnt out and kinda had a nervous breakdown from the workload( well not just school, but from PAing on tv commercials to pay my rent) In the end I traumatised myself by delivering a crappy degree project, which shook my confidence in my ability to do sound. So I ended up spending the next 3,5 years working in Production.... It's only in the last 1,5 years that I've started doing sound, with lo/no pay jobs then some-pay jobs and now more and more properly paid gigs.
In a way now I'm starting from scratch, re-learning how to do location sound, editing dialogue etc. Which for me is good, as I needed the distance/time to realise that I wanted to do this job badly enough. Anyway, I think school was good in the sense that I learnt a helluva lot about how films are made and unmade(personal experience to boot). But that's just my long, boring story. One of the best sound editors I know hasn't been near a film school/sound training course. He studied biology !
I never studied beyond high school - but I've been playing with sound on computers since computers had soundcards. And I've never worked a day in any other industry than sound - I've been at it for a decade now, and it's taken me halfway around the world.
If you're passionate, committed, enthusiastic, motivated and have half a brain on you, in a field like ours, anything is possible.
Approach everything with an open mind, always be prepared to learn new things (no matter how long you've been at it for, and even from those who've been doing it for less time than yourself), never be satisfied with "near enough is good enough", and the world of sonically-employed-satisfaction is your oyster
I have a Bachelors in Biology. Then began a career change and graduated from a 2 year trade school for sound design. If you're going to go to a school, I would argue that you'd get a more robust education from a Bachelor's degree program. But if resources are tight, then take a close look at the curriculum offered from the many 2 year programs and see what works best for you. But if you do have the resources and time, then you should dive into a 4 year program.
I started out doing live sound and eventually shifted to the recorded medium. As far as schooling, I double majored in Anthropology and History in undergrad (almost picked up a third in Theatre...technical side...sound, of course). When I got tired of the theatre and concert gigs, I enrolled in a Master's program. That's where I made the shift to recording, editing and non-real-time mixing. Finished that off back in '04.
I learned less about the technical craft in school than I have on my own (both before and after schooling). However, the schools did expand my perspective and force me to look at things from stylistic, aesthetic and theoretical angles. I needed that more than anything else, and school awakened an ongoing hunger to explore those ideas.
I got a BM from Berklee School of Music with a dual-major in Music Production and Engineering and Music Synthesis (I think now called Electronic Production and Design). This had the best of both worlds (recording/engineering and computer music/sound design). One of the best parts about going to a music school was that while learning all the technical components of audio engineering and sound design, I was also learning the fundamentals of sound and music which is such a strong attribute when it comes to sound design. It may sound overly "poetic" but sound design can be very melodic and harmonic if not tonal. I have learned SO much since I started working professionally about 6 years ago, but school is a great place to experiment, make mistakes (of which you will continue to do), and give you the basics when you enter the working world. Also, there is no denying the value of networking, both with faculty and guest speakers along with other students. I went to an arts High School majoring in something not related to music or sound. The school had just started a film program. Three of the last films I worked on came through people from that program who I either new directly or via other friends. There is something to be said of learning in the "real world" but I think school is a great option as well.
In my final year of BA Film and Screen Production at Griffith Film School, Australia. I haven't learned as much as I would have liked sound-wise, the sound department is pretty undercooked compared with the other departments, but it has given me more opportunities and put me in contact with more industry professionals than I could have ever hoped to by my own efforts.
I studied Electronic Media, Arts and Communications as part of a dual major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute which included some sound components, but I did it mostly because it was a freebee to add on to my Computer Science major.
I didn't learn a whole lot in the program as I had already picked up a ton doing A/V work in high school, but the requirements fit in to my humanities and social science electives so it didn't cost me anything and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a piece of paper that spoke to my training.
If I hadn't had that option available though, I wouldn't have gone to school just for A/V stuff alone.