Did you attend school for an audio-related degree? If so, what school and degree?
School: Full Sail University
Degree: B.A. Recording Arts
What inspired you to work with sound?
I had been working on electronic music for years and game sound seemed like a natural path for me to take when I was in school so I did a lot of research on that and decided to take that route. Haven’t looked back!
How old were you when you found out sound is what you wanted to do for a living?
I must have been about 16 or 17. I was mostly wanting to become an electronic music artist, though.
Was a school degree the first thing on your mind, or do everything self-taught?
Before Full Sail, I took piano lessons, attended a 2 week 101 course on ProTools as a high school graduation gift from my parents and I taught myself a lot about electronic music production, mixing and stuff in the beginning. Going to Full Sail really helped streamline my workflow in a more professional manner. I had some inefficient processes before. It also really helped my mixing.
What is your specialty/preference of the sound fields (sound design, music, recording, audio programming, implementation, etc)? What do you like most about it?
I’d say my strength is in sound design right now. I honestly had no clue what I was doing in the beginning when I first got my first industry gig at Volition, Inc. I made a demo where I tried my best to impress the team with sound design, but I really didn’t understand the process as much as I do now. I guess you could say I was faking it until I made it. Hell, I probably still am! These days, I can say I’m a little more proud of my work, but it took all the way until Borderlands 2 for me to feel like I’ve made something cool and unique with its own personality. Secondary to that, I’d say I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with Wwise and creatively designing sounds around how I’m going to implement something. It’s so powerful and even though I’ve been using it for 2 1/2 years every day I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface now. It’s got so much depth, I love it!
What sound tools did you learn in your school curriculum?
Full Sail was primarily centered around ProTools, but I got experience with Cubase, Nuendo and a ton of outboard gear like SSL’s and all sorts of fancy things that I have never touched since I’ve been in school. Kind of sad, but it is how things work these days. We’re all very ‘in the box’ so to speak, but that’s the beauty of the times we live in right now.
What kind of projects did you have in your classes?
We did a lot of stuff at Full Sail. At the time I went, there was no game audio curriculum. In our post production class we spent a lot of time learning about Automated Dialog Replacement, Foley, basic sound design principles, mixing in 5.1 and adding sound to a blank scene with no audio. We would often work in teams of 4-5 other students to get the job done.
Were your teachers audio professionals? Anybody the audience would know?
My teachers were very good at what they did and excellent teachers but I don’t recall anybody that might be well known, except Michael Schichiano (Skitch), he’s pretty well known in the chiptune scene and such. Really cool guy and a fun teacher. Shout out to Tom Todia too for being an awesome guy and developing the Game Audio curriculum over there. Unfortunately I only got to know him post graduation but I really appreciate the efforts he has taken over there to teach students about interactive audio and help people grow in our field.
Did you do any side projects during school? If so, what were they like?
Most of the side projects I did were just music and remix projects in my bedroom studio. I cranked out a lot of music back then and would try to apply things I was learning in class to the music I was producing. Every month I found ways to polish my sound a little more.
How many of your side projects were published? Any of them turn profitable?
I did get signed to a label that was a subsidiary of Sony for a remix I did and it definitely didn’t turn out profitable. But it was fun!
How large was your graduating class? Were you all close?
Full Sail graduates students every month. I believe we had about 50 in my class. We had a pretty tight group of people. Most of them were really nice and fun to be around. I definitely miss them!
How often do you work with your old classmates today?
Never. I was pretty much the only one heavily devoted to game audio at the time. Most were interested in live performance or working in a studio.
Any old classmates you want to mention? The more the merrier with the audio community!
Definitely Davide Berardi. He was a great guy with a lot of experience. He’s doing well now in New York City right now and I’m very happy for him. He was the first guy to ever show me how over-compressed my horrible music was and how to correct some of my really, really awful mixing. Props to him for helping me get my act together!
Do you feel more prepared for the sound industry than if you had not graduated from your program?
Absolutely. This is my fifth year in the industry and I can now fake being good at things a lot better than I could fake them back then.
Do you have a website for your portfolio? How often do you blog on it?
My old website is still up but I haven’t updated it since being in school, really. I blog from time to time on joshuadav.tumblr.com.
Do you use social networking? How often, and what communities?
I’m on Facebook, but I prefer to keep it to just family and friends. For everyone else I’m on Twitter @JoshuaDav.
Any last words for future audio people looking to carve their education and career paths?
I know there a LOT of students out there trying to figure out how to get in. It’s a anxiety-driven place to be in and I definitely understand that since I’ve been in their shoes myself. If you love what you do, eat it, breathe it and sleep it every day of your existence. You were put on this planet to create your art, collaborate with others, spread positive energy and gain wisdom and good vibes from other people. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, push the negative people to the side. Find people who inspire you and stick with them. Be good to people and always try to listen to other people’s perspectives. If you do this, you will grow and other people will want to be around you and work with you more often. If you want to get a very detailed glimpse into what I did to make it into the industry, check out my blog post about it here:
How I Made it Into Games…Plus A Few Things. I also have a Game Audio FAQ here that I update from time to time: Frequently Asked Game Audio Related Questions. Anyway, don’t panic! If you keep up your passion for your work and devotion to being kind to others, things will fall into place for you! 🙂
About Sonic Backgrounds
The sound industry is an ever growing field, ranging from linear sound design in film and TV, to interactive audio in games, and from live theatrical sound design to field recording for the creation of custom libraries. It is only recently however, that school programs have begun to offer degrees in the sound-specific variety. Graduates of these new programs are now coming into the industry, and it provokes the interesting question of how these new, specific programs are preparing individuals for the sound world, as opposed to the older approaches of entry, such as pure passion, musical talent, a film degree, or a computer science degree.
“Sonic Backgrounds” is an interview series focused on interviewing recent graduates of these educational sound programs around the globe, to see what exactly they are providing, and how they are shaping the new “academic”-based sound artist.