Working in student projects: A why would you guide.

I am positive that I don´t know everything. And even though there are people out there who have a different outlook (think what you will), I enjoy teaching the things I know to people who may benefit from it. After all, knowledge is power, and "With great power comes great responsibility". Plus, I have been a student most of my life, and now that I'm a "professional" I am still constantly learning and renovating what I already knew. So who am I to judge people in their learning process?


The Trigger I had the idea to write this post from a recent experience ina short-film I helped with. Let me lay out the situation for you: - 20-minute comedy short film, mostly Dialogue and Music, not much in SFX. - 6-month pre-notice with only 4 days to make edit fixes and mix (5.1). - An array of stereo or mono files around 10 GB total for production audio named Tascam_####.wav - Budget: Exposure (?) Terrible, right? This was a film of a friend of mine, that he had been working on for a while now. He is not a proper film student, but studies Digital Media and had put a lot of time and effort into his project. His dedication to the film was admirable on its own, leave alone his enthusiasm after 2 years of being in production running on costs and no revenue. And even though through my time on this film I mostly ranted to myself on how terrible the situation was, in the end, I knew I was feeding his hunger to keep growing.

The final product wasn't close to the best work I have done. But in those four days, I was struggling with scoring, editing, and mixing with the director beside me, I got to point out where he went wrong and what he should be looking out for in his next projects. And if he corrects these things in the future, the next sound designer he works with will hopefully have it a lot easier.


Teaching Sound

No, I'm not a teacher, but I like transferring knowledge as well as I can. And something I learned during my years in university is the little importance given to sound outside of any audio-related programs. I studied Engineering in a school where they taught Digital Media, and I did Sound Design in a proper Film School. In none of these did aspiring film students truly understand the meaning of "Quiet on Set". I couldn´t get a single take without people snickering in the back or phones vibrating. I've gotten asked "What's ADR?" more times than I'd like to admit. I've had people ask me if I can score their film in a week and I've even had someone ask me if I could magically convert their 2 channel guide track into a 5.1 file. And yes, as frustrating as this can be, it still goes on outside of schools. It happens in Indie to Million-Dollar Productions and that is why I feel it is our responsibility as Audio Engineers and Sound Designers to reinforce (yes reinforce... I'm not saying schools don't do their jobs) what schools teach their students as much as we can. Let's take advantage that now Film and Video games are actually becoming an aspiring career and more institutions are offering a degree on these. Help these new game designers and filmmakers understand the impact that sound will have in their projects, don't push them aside by ignoring them because of "lack of experience". This being said, of course, always keep your priorities straight and know that you can´t always be offering your work for little to no money. But if you have the opportunity, take it. Teaching a little can take someone else a long way.


In retrospect... A feeling I will always remember is seeing my first credit. It was a band's first album. We worked on it for a year or so. I was Recording Engineer, and the moment I picked up that album and saw my name on the back, on an almost too small to read font, I immediately understood what that year of work had meant. I still listen to this album today and now I hear a million things I could have done better. Firstly because there is no worst critic than yourself, but also because 7 years ago I didn´t have half the knowledge I have now. Knowledge is key to progress, and I have worked with students in countless projects. Every time I have, I've made sure to teach them at least one thing they didn´t know because I know it will make their future projects better. Just like my knowledge of lighting, photography, 3d modeling, level design, and countless other fields was null before I ever worked with people who could show me and teach me what they do. Yes, I approached this topic through sound because it's my field. But I wouldn't know half of the things I do if it weren't for people (not only teachers) who invited me to see their work and were willing to show me the "what, where, how, and why" of their trade. Always teach others, because they can always teach you.

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