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Topic: Question regarding sound design demo

  1. #1

    Question regarding sound design demo

    On the recommendation of many around here I bought Aaron Marks Game Audio. Providing demos for music seems fairly obvious. I'd like more information on demos for sound design/atmospheres.

    Do many of you have a separate demo reel of atmospheres/sound design?

    Can a demo including both sound design and music simultaneously as they would occur in a game be helpful or a hindrance?

    Any input is greatly appreciated.


  2. #2

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    I went to the GANG Demo Derby at the GDC - it seemed as though the most successful sound design demos had visuals, either from an original source or as a "re-scoring" of existing games. That is, you can go to like gamespot/IGN, grab a video of your favorite game, take out all the audio and replace it with your own. I remember listening to one demo that I got from someone at GDC, and it had an mp3 and an avi. I listened to the mp3 first and just thought, "what was this guy thinking??" .....but then I realized that it was the audio track from the far-more-impressive avi. The visuals made all the difference in the world, even though it wasn't the most beautiful 3D graphics out there.

    Some people do seem to prefer audio-only demos, however. I sat next to someone and started chatting, offered her my demo (an audio CD in a DVD case), and she almost refused it b/c she thought it was a DVD. What everyone seemed to agree on, though, was that you should definitely separate music and sound demos, or at least make it painfully clear which one you're demoing. Even for the people who advertise themselves as both music and sound producers, it seemed to get on peoples' nerves when they had to process both simultaneously.

    I should point out though that you should take these suggestions with a grain of salt, considering the source - the Demo Derby was a big panel of industry giants, sitting in a room with no need to hire anyone and giving about 60 seconds to each demo (and they listened to about 40 of them in a row, too). If you're applying for a smaller company, the rules might change considerably - they might want the combo audio/music guy more, they might spend more time on each entry, etc. So I guess it's just a matter of using your best judgment, as always.
    Wilbert Roget, II

  3. #3

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    The great thing about sound design demos, there are no rules - do what you need to present your work in the best light. You want to entertain a potential client, make them excited about your work and at the same time show that you know what you're doing while displaying the quality of your production.

    - You can replace the audio in your favorite game trailer with your own. Audio to visuals typically has the most impact but you need to be clear that you did NOT do the original work (unless you did, of course).

    - You can create an audio 'scene'. Tell a story using sound. This can be anything - your creativity can really be unleashed with this one. Don't be shy, make it exciting!!

    - Since I do music, voice overs and sound design, I use a montage using all three and follow up with other examples if needed. Here's an example:


    In the end, it's all subjective and a matter of opinion. Decide what your goals are, develop a strategy to achieve them then get out there and kick some butt! You want to show that you are at least as good as everyone else out there but you want to show off your originality and stand out from the crowd. The best sound design demo I ever recieved was a DVD from a guy who worked on Broadway and was looking into the games biz - the quality of his stuff was phenomenal - and he did this even though audio CD's were the 'preferred' format.

    Much luck and hope you enjoy the book.


  4. #4

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Great advice!!! I'd like to touch on the non-demo aspect of getting a sound design job:

    It's vital to have an online resume. You can send out all the CDs and DVDs you want but a link in an email that takes you right to the impressive content is important. Game pros are tech-savy and whether your emails go to HR or the audio dept, having a link that goes right to an impressive demonstration within that email will get you moved on to the next round. Many companies accept online submissions now-a-days so whoever is actually choosing the candidates is getting forwarded emails as well as cd packages delivered. An email they'll open right away and decide then and there whether you are an ideal candidate or not. A CD might get put in a box and handed off to someone else to weed out the good stuff. If that company got tons of online submissions there's a chance they won't even start going through the box. Don't get me wrong though. Any extra effort you apply will be noted, but you have to have that link in your emails.

    When I email companies I format it in a particular way. In the body of the email I write something very personable and informal, like:

    Hey Game Company,

    This email is in response to the sound design position being advertised on your website. I was so excited to see this position being posted because Blood Reign VIII was absolutely the most kick ~~~ game ever made. Please hire me immediately!!!!

    (link to online resume)

    Then I attach a formal cover letter and resume, both of which also contain the link. I think this is a good way to go about it, because the first people to read it will chuckle at it's informality. They don't call it submission for nothing Be honest with the fact that you need a break and appeal to them on a humanistic level. They are people just like you. Just show some personality in the body of the email and let your cover letter and resume show your professionalism.

    Also, many people hiring sound designers are not audio people. It's important to demonstrate that you can script, that you understand the logic behind programming, that you communicate well and get along with people, and that you're dedicated to providing award winning audio, even if that means crunching your ~~~ off for 6 months.....possibly longer.
    Michael Peter

    If music be the food of love...
    play on

    William Shakespeare


  5. #5

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Different horses for different courses, I suppose.
    Until recently I worked as musical director at Guerrilla (of Killzone fame, I now work for them part time offsite), and they recently asked me to help them recruit new sounddesigners.

    The website thing actually put me off. We got a lot of cv's; some were sent by post to me, others via email. It was actually a nuissance to have to go to all the websites, especially if there are lots of them..(i'm talking between 40-60 cv's).
    I'll be really blunt and honest here, as I know if I send stuff around myself my work will be treated in the same way:
    -time spent on going through cv's is time not spent working on music/sfx or whatever the person reviewing it has to attend to. Dependent on what stage the developer is at, things can be pretty hectic and there is never enough time
    -imho, the best thing to be able to do is pop in a cd or a dvd. I usually prefer a dvd so I can see whether people can design sound/compose music to picture. There are many people that can write a decent tune, there are not that many that can score to picture that well. With sfx I'm often struck by how the sfx don't match either the environment or weight of objects/characters in the scene.
    -having to browse links from paper cv's is a pita. Sometimes the site doesn't work, or is slow, sometimes I'm reviewing with a producer or game director who has crappy speakers on their pc, etc. So again, for me in that sense, a dvd and audio cd is usually the best.
    -bad credits; I occasionally get stuff on which multiple people worked and it is not listed who did what. If I hear stuff I like and don't like, how do I know who did what?
    -freelancers sending in cv's for in-house positions. I'm sorry, but they go into the bin or on file; in any case, if I'm looking for an in-house person it is because the team want access to this person at least 8 hours a day, and a fast turn around is needed. After we advertised in Edge, we got a lot of US freelancers who seem to forget we are in Holland and there is at least an 8 hour time difference.
    Sorry if this sounds snippy, but it is a lot of work and if you have to do it you at least want stuff that is relevant.
    -if possible, submit stuff that is relevant. If the developer is doing 1st person shoot em ups with orchestral soundtracks, and you're applying for the sounddesigner position, don't send techno tracks just because you know how reason works.If it's in the pile of the first 10 cv's, I can laugh about it, but when I'm at no. 58, I have kind of lost my sense of humor at that point.
    -check your spelling. Some people don't spell the name of the company they're applying to right.
    -make sure your demo dvd/cd works. I've had a few which didn't play, had errors on them because they were burned at too high speed (audio cd's), or cd roms with creative menus that didn't work.
    Alternatively, I get cd-roms with just a directory and no description, but just a bunch of wave files. Or a mac only disc. etc.

    So, there's my rant. What imho you should do:
    -a clear cv and cover letter, with your name, age, occupation, experience and what position you are applying for.
    Don't list workexperience that isn't relevant. 2 years at tesco's as a cashier or professional dog walker is not relevant. Working at a music shop or a radio station is, to a degree.
    -not too much paper..3 to 4 sheets should be enough to cover previous mentioned topics
    -an audio cd or dvd with clear description of what is on there and what you did on it. If multiple people worked on it, clearly list what you did.
    Make sure it works.
    -a motivation of why you want to work for somebody can be helpful. If someone conveys excitment about the company and the games they produce (don't bull~~~~ here that can help, but don't overdo it.
    We actually had one guy apply for another position who wrote a short paper about what he liked and didn't like about our games. That was ballsey and his comments were appreciated. It can be risky, but it shows your interest and problem solving skills/ideas.
    -I would put links on your cv, but I would always send a cd/dvd as well, for the reasons mentioned above.
    -don't go crazy on artwork. Clear labelling is appreciated. I prefer clean and tidy, over crazy/overdesigned. People are not hiring you for your graphic skills.

    Hope this was helpful,


  6. #6
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Thanks for the info. ... but what is a cv?

  7. #7

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_Karl
    Thanks for the info. ... but what is a cv?
    A European way of saying resume'.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Thank you!

  9. #9

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Here is my site with work portfolio in flash.

  10. #10

    Re: Question regarding sound design demo

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronBMarks
    A European way of saying resume'.
    Actually it's the abbreviation for the Latin "Curriculum Vitae", which means loosely translated the "course of life" :-)


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