Tuesday Tips: A Sound Designer’s portfolio

So for a while now we’ve been asking you guys to send in your questions to us via our Facebook post (don’t hesitate to send more!). Due to the quality and nature of the questions we have decided to split them up into different topics, so each week we can give them the attention and detail which they deserve. This week’s topic is sound and the question is:

How would you describe a good portfolio for a Sound Designer?

Firstly there is no completely right or wrong way to showcase a portfolio since all are unique and personal, but there are tips and tricks you can follow to showcase your portfolio to the best of its abilities.

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Within a video portfolio your best work must be at the beginning and not the end, NOT in chronological order. It is a common mistake which is seen often where the best work is saved until last; anyone looking at your portfolio does not want to have to spend valuable time sifting through the multiple mediocre projects until they hit gold. A lot of the time they will give up halfway through if the content is not of a particularly consistent standard or appear sloppy.

And something we encounter from time to time; If you’re using a trailer from another game but showcasing your own sounds instead – make sure you’re not doing a worse job than the original.

“It is a common mistake which is seen often where the best work is saved until last”

We want to see what knowledge you have and what skills you can demonstrate in terms of both hardware and software. This means that in a portfolio we look for a wide variety of unique and exciting sounds which really shows off your skills. However it is important to remember that old saying “jack of all trades, master of none” – it’s definitely better to have a good standard of material over the whole of your portfolio, even if that means slightly reducing it in size, rather than submitting sub-par work.

Passion is a key term thrown around a lot to the point of cliche, yet remains relevant. We want to see what you are most passionate about, whether it’s xxx, xxx or xxx. Even if you do not have any collaborative sound projects, anything that you have done by yourself in your free time is good – it shows dedication and perseverance to what is important to you.

“If you excel at a few areas then an apparent weakness in another is not a major problem most of the time”

Contrary to what most people believe, we also want to know what your strong sides are and your weak sides. Companies do not expect you to be an expert in everything, that’s what on the job training is for if you are applying for an internship or junior position. What they do need is to weigh up how much (and to what extent) training will be needed. If you excel at a few areas then an apparent weakness in another is not a major problem most of the time – everyone has to start learning somewhere.

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It goes without saying that portfolios with credible previous work are going to stand out more, though if you happen to have made awesomely amazing home projects they will of course be appreciated too. Beyond the actual work we look for what you have learnt from it and what lessons you’ve taken away. If something didn’t quite turn out as you expected but you came back with a solution or fix (no matter how unconventional) and demonstrated that it has worked, we are going to be impressed by your initiative and willingness to learn.

Lastly don’t be afraid to show yourself off – what are your goals with sound design? This question can directly tie in with the company you are applying for. Oh! And one more thing – practice, practice, practice!  No one becomes an expert overnight. Someone once said 10,000 hours of practice are required to be an expert at something and this applies to all areas of life!

If you want some further reading here is a good article found on Gamasutra. Otherwise goodluck!