An Update from Gabriel – Former Student Blogger

Gabriel is a graduate of the 2011-12 class…you may remember reading his Student Blogs from last year – detailing his experience at OIART. After graduation in July, Gabriel was hired as a Junior Sound Designer at Digital Extremes – a video game production company that is currently working on the official Star Trek game.  Gabriel was kind enough to write one last blog post to share what he is up to now!

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So what does a Junior Sound Designer at a video game company do? 

Well, you’ll be glad to know, there is actually a lot of sound designing.  Flying robots, mine explosions, birds, kicks, footsteps, fungi, insect swarms, energy shields, spaceship ambiences – just a short list of sounds that I’ve designed for three games so far at Digital Extremes (www.digitalextremes.com).  My days are filled with creative and engaging things to do and the time usually zips by as a result.  “What?  When did the sun go down?  It’s dinner time already?”  That type of thing.

There’s also a lot of temporary dialogue recording and editing for the upcoming Star Trek game.  Nope – no Zachary Quinto or Chris Pine for me.  Don’t ask if I can get you an autograph or a saliva sample.  These temp voice recordings are provided by eager folks around the office who like to get their Kirk/Sulu/Scotty on.  I usually get stuck with the Spock lines because of my apparent gift for having a monotone, emotionless voice.  My ears are sort of pointy too…

“Looking back on my time at OIART, I can say that my education there was invaluable and I draw upon that foundational knowledge daily…”

The sound department at DE (of whom 4/6 are OIART grads) also take great pride and enjoyment in recording and using our own “in house” sounds.  They’ve already built up quite a sound library, and I had the opportunity to record and edit several sessions to add to their growing crop.  We (including Antony, a fellow OIARTer from last year’s class who is now my colleague in crime) recorded some haunting sounds out of an old piano soundboard, sizzles of water in a hot frying pan, objects being rubbed on my bike’s tires and RC helicopters buzzing through the air.

The Odds & Ends

There are also a few “odds & ends” type of tasks that don’t necessarily have anything to do with designing sound per se, but are still crucial: e.g. researching audio interfaces to be purchased for the sound team, troubleshooting audio and audio interface issues on our PCs (notice how I mentioned PCs specifically, and not Macs?  Lolz), filling the coffee maker’s water reservoir and backing up data.  You back up your data regularly don’t you?  Of course you do.  I pity the fool who doesn’t back up their data.

Everyday is also a learning experience.  It’s not just about creating sounds but implementing them in the games themselves.  For that, we have to learn the ins and outs of Evolution, Digital Extremes’ proprietary engine for asset implementation.  There is a ton to learn and the engine itself is constantly evolving (get it?).  It’s a hoot.

What about the perks, you ask? 

Isn’t working on sound for a living enough?  No?  Well, there are some nice perks to working at DE.  If you’ll allow me to indulge myself for a bit, I’ll just mention a few of my favorites: daily lunches cooked by our own cooking staff, a health and wellness subsidy, and the coveted espresso machine.  Mmmm. (For more about the perks at Digital Extremes, read this article from the Globe & Mail)

My OIART Education

Looking back on my time at OIART, I can say that my education there was invaluable and I draw upon that foundational knowledge daily, whether it be troubleshooting computer issues, setting up mics, recording and editing sound effects/dialog or just having a better ear for what types of layers to use for a sound.  Insect swarm?  I need some pop fizz!  Explosion?  Let’s add a slowed and pitched down recording of a disgruntled hyena.  Space fungi?  How about the sound of moving turkey guts around?  Double mmmm.

Have fun at OIART and learn all you can.  Who knows where you’ll end up in 11 months… :)

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