Well… this is a blog, right? I need to unburden a little.
This year has seen so many up’s and down’s I felt sick many times. When it seemed that my career as a sound designer was kicking in, I got a punch in the face. A heavy one. But I am kind of glad it happened.
For someone who knows me or has read the “About” section on this blog, got it that I eventually got sick of music production and at some time during my degree I completely turned for sound design. As I say, I like a lot of things about sound design, but when I got the chance to work on a 1st person shooter game, even though it was a student project, I got hysterical and started to mind-eat everything I could about the subject. I got familiar with Unity, I learned how to do lots of stuff on Fmod, and eventually learned related audio game things. Also found out insanely talented and dedicated people on the web and started to follow their work (go to “Great Sites”). The game designer quitted the project and nothing was done.
Later on – this was 2011 -, I was introduced to this cool game designer team that would need a sound designer sooner or later in the game company they were working for. I knew almost nothing at the time and so one of them told me they did enjoyed my work but it had more to do with attitude and what I could bring to the company. What I had on-line at the time was some really-bad-audio-quality creature’s roars, but nonetheless they were fun; I also had some posts on a previous blog, including a simulation on Fmod Sandbox. But what I truly had at the time was a willingness to learn more and more, enthusiasm and an extreme confidence (not arrogance). I was always making up projects to test myself and involve other people that could be potential work-buddies.
I got into projects that were a piece of shit, no other word; about half of them didn’t even go until the end. But still, I learned; and not only about audio but also about people.
In the end of 2012 I did sound design for Apollo, at the SoundTrack Cologne European Talent Competition and the entry was nominated in 12 between some 90 contestants.
Meanwhile, 2013 was looking great: I actually chose my salary at the game company (yes, what a luxury, right?), the guys are awesome, the game was fun and I noticed that with time they were more open to new audio implementation ideas, and I was also better understanding their work. I was attending a Game Design course and for that I learned to implement audio in UDK all by myself.
In April I worked on a featured-film, one of the most valuable professional experiences I had so far; in May and June I dialogue-edited two short documentaries. In October I got back to a featured-film again, with a little more responsibility and earning a few bills, between other small audio services that got me that monthly safety net.
When all of a sudden, I was called in for a meeting in the game company to hear I had been replaced.
Replaced with SFX packs. My work was “positive”, but they could save so much buying 400 sounds for $10 that it just seemed an obvious choice.
From that day on I entered a dangerous spiral of depression. I questioned every fucking thing about my work, victimized me all the time, lost all the confidence about my skills, and was all about the I-hate-myself-I-wanna-die thing.
There were a few days when I tried. Despair and financial insecurity were making me build profiles online on freelancer sites. I saw some familiar faces there making good money. Oh yes, I live in Portugal, for the ones reading this who don’t have a clue: this is a shitty shitty poor country.
I accepted to work on something for free. It was a more or less okay experience, but I don’t advise anyone doing it when there is possible income and you are simply offered your name on the credits and one more thing in your portfolio. Nevertheless, I assumed a compromise and I should have done it until the end.
A few days later someone showed interest on my portfolio and wanted to hire me through one freelancing site to design some sfx for their game. I was selling my work so cheap hoping to get something fast, that he / she wanted to lower the price even more, even after me sending 3 particular sfx as a sample. I refused his ridiculous and offensive price and never heard from her again.
Man, then I was down. Started in a dream up high and landed on my butt with nothing. I was even doubting my own dignity, something that I never did and always felt very confident and secure about.
Sometimes, my brain poked me: “Hey, what else did you do for your career since you thought you were safe?”
Other times, dear ones poked me: “These careers are never safe. Accept it and move on.”
Some friends reacted like I was a child that got a bruise: “It’s ok now, you’re a good girl, everything will turn out just fine; here’s a candy.”
Well… my brain was right. We had serious conversations and I came to some conclusions.
I almost completely accommodated myself to this game company; I stopped blogging, researching, learning and putting my efforts on audio things. Well, of course I was doing that but not with the same enthusiasm and drive I had when I was starting. I also rarely looked for other companies that could have my audio services. I didn’t give a damn to freelance sites. I used everything as an excuse. Now I’m busy, now I’m tired, now I have to watch this episode. I lost the sense of my goals and of what I wanted for myself.
Now, at this precise moment, it’s not that I earned a job or won the lottery so I can buy all the equipment I want. Nothing around me has changed. Eventually, I realised that these things take time, that I was a lucky one to get hired after some months playing with vocoders, and that I should had never let things just go and flow. I honestly doubt that I will have a cool audio job soon, but it doesn’t hurt to dream as long as you go after it and make a plan. This actually helped me a lot with that.
I remember during my professional hysterical phase the satisfaction of learning something new and get a like on my blog’s page was more than enough. In fact, I rarely had in my mind “now I will get an audio job soon”. The feeling of acknowledging something new is great as long as frustration doesn’t overcome that feeling. Yes, it’s hard most of times, but we really need to be patient.
This situation (and hey, I still think it’s a crap to get replaced by brainless and deaf sfx packs, but it’s not my problem any longer) got me back into my roots, so here I go again, like I am starting!
And since it’s Audio Oprah time, share your experiences with this as well. Or an audio job for me. I’m kidding. No.