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tinymachines

Soundtrack Composition

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tinymachines    98
I currently work at BioWare as a QA analyist, but I eventually want to be a video game soundtrack composer. I have experience composing for student films at UT as well as a couple professional gigs doing documentary soundtracks, but I know I'll need more technical knowledge of composition before I could hope to do something like a game soundtrack. That means I'll probably be going back to school after a few years out. Does anyone have advice on schools that are respected in the audio field? I've talked to some of the audio people at BioWare, but there's no soundtrack person here, so they can't give me what I'm really looking for.

Any help is much appreciated!

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Audio Hive    100
I'm currently a film scoring student at Berklee College of Music, and our video game scoring classes are pretty great. You'll work with midi and mod files all the way to great sample libraries with DP, Logic or FMOD. We actually have a video game scoring minor, and I'd pair it with a film scoring or electric production and design major.

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StauntonLick    148
Already working in an established and strong games company I would say you're already closer than most on this forum to achieving the dream of being a full-time composer!

For someone in your position, I'd say education is almost irrelevant. In most industries a qualification gets you in; experience gets you where you want to be. If I were you I would focus on building a portfolio and getting chatty with the audio guys - see if they can throw a bit of work your way. Impress them with that and I reckon you'd stand a good chance of getting in with them proper should an opportunity arise. Failing that, get one of the audio guys fired, then step in and nick his job. No worries!

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nsmadsen    5584
I agree, already being in-house is a huge advantage. Show the existing audio team how willing you are to go above and beyond your current duties and demonstrate your talent and passion for audio. A word of advice though: strike a delicate balance when pursuing this! You must make sure that you're fulfilling your current job to the absolute best of your ability and then you also do not want to harass or bug the audio team. When I was in-house audio lead an assistant producer really wanted to do game audio. He was a really nice guy and we got along well. But then he started trying to make deals with other producers to provide small bits of audio without the audio team's knowledge. Big no-no. Then he proceeded to harass and even get angry when I didn't have enough work to share with him - the project was in the early stages and I was having a hard enough time keeping my current audio team busy enough. I tried to remind him that once I had more work to pass around, I'd gladly consider him. Finally, I wanted to test how well he'd work in a pressure situation with a tight deadline (which happens often in games). He never delivered. Ever. Which made me really suspect how well he'd work in an actual game development situation.

So be sure you can hit the given deadlines and really impress them... but don't harass them or go behind their back.

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nsmadsen    5584
In addition, I wouldn't go back to school for this. I would evaluate what software they use and try to learn it, especially if it's something 3rd party like Wwise or Fmod. That as well as understanding how audio works in games, which can be MUCH more complicated and interactive than linear media like films. Learning some ActionScript or XML can also be useful as can source control like Perforce or Alienbrain.

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Dannthr    511
Now, to keep some perspective, as Nathan mentioned audio in a general sense, there's a lot more to game audio than music. Depending on which Bioware facility you're at, you may or may not have access to the kinds of people who are gate-keepers to composition work.

Your in-house work in QA will give you a great insight into the development cycle of a game and your experience at Bioware will be invaluable when pursuing composition work in games.

You mentioned working on student projects and small documentaries, that's great, but where's your work in games?

Pursue work in games. That means here.

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tinymachines    98
Updating everyone..

I've had a busy past few months. I got promoted to the Audio Design Analyst position, so now I work everyday with audio and the audio team. I've noticed that I don't have nearly the qualifications to get an actual audio dev position. I've learned most of our world build tools, as well as basic source control usage. Unfortunately, I am content and and not engineering, so I don't touch Wwise. I've downloaded it at home and plan on learning some. I'm also planning on making a project with the DragonAge toolset if I can ever figure out what SQL is, and why it won't setup properly on my computer.

Aside from that, I'm thinking about creating my own SFX library, and VO samples for my portfolio. Any other ideas on things I should learn. I have to say, this new position has been the most fun I've ever had! It's sad I didn't realize I could start here sooner.

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yjbrown    646
Congrats on the promotion!

If I were you right now, I'd concentrate on
1. Learning WWise
2. Learning how to sound design - composing with sound fx rather than with notes. It's a very similar process but is a lot of fun when you can look at something and know what sound it should have and how to get that sound, author the sounds in wwise, and then implement them. Learn how to edit sound files, trim, crop, fade out, fade in, normalize, eQ basic audio engineering skills. Start watching special features on audio design for films or games.
3. Study composition in your spare time.

Put your hand up for audio testing. Look at wwise projects they have and learn how sounds work.

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