2 Part Blog. Reflection on a recent project & how to stay in touch with technology

 

This blog will be divided into two parts, the first being a reflection on a recent project, the second  I will try to tackle the question “how do stay ahead in an ever changing technological environment.

 

The recent project I am reflecting on is two different video games being made in the Unreal game engine by a group of animation students. Our brief was to create the audio assets for both games. I will reflect on this process and conclude that this was a great project and a great idea but it didn’t quite come together the way I imagined.

 

Without a build of the game and using concept art for inspiration, many conversations were had to try narrow down our designs to fit the purpose of the games. Each additional conversation led to a different and  better perspective of how the sound should be heard or implemented. With minimal communication between our team and the animators led to inadequate appreciation of the brief.

With the designs and scopes of the art constantly evolving our assets were not efficiently implemented or not fit for purpose. This project didn’t allow enough time for the animators to give us a build and play around with the audio. Without testing the project has lead to a lack of cohesion and quality. On my behalf I should have spent more time planning in the beginning, assigning specific roles to certain people. Certain members were assigned to either game at the beginning but no one stuck to their briefs they were assigned by the lecturer. In the early stages our group’s dynamics seemed distracted  rather than taking it seriously.

Here are a couple of examples of samples created. The first one is a recording  above my kitchen sink. I used the XY stereo mics on a Zoom H5 combined with a Rode large diaphragm condenser

This was to be used as only one component of an ice cave ambiance loop

 

My next favourite was the river of souls loop created by five of us moaning and groaning around the XY small diaphragm condensers in different positions.

 River of souls concept art

River of souls concept art

 

 

 


Now I will try to tackle the question of “how to give yourself a chance at making it in the gaming industry in an ever changing technological environment.”

To answer this I’ve grouped some tools into three categories:

  1. Social Networks

    • LinkedIn

    • Facebook

  2. Professional Development

    • Conferences

    • Talks & Meetups

  3. Keeping up with trends

    • Ted talks

    • Being active in technical and artistic forums

 

    

I  will now give a pro and con for each and show an example.

LinkedIn

Pros - Vast networking opportunities, latest news feeds about technology from experts. LinkedIn is often used as an advertising platform and engages the audience through company group pages where relevant and current information is posted. Here you will find professionals at high levels sharing their thoughts and inviting people to add to conversations. This is great opportunity to add to a conversation and be noticed (Mind Tools, 2016)

Cons - Somewhat clunky to use, intrusive advertising from unrelated businesses. Hard to get into the routine of checking.

Facebook

Pros -  As we know facebook is widely used and has broad range of interests represented by social networks. The most useful aspect of Facebook in terms of staying up with technology is specific facebook groups (invite only). I have two examples here

International Game Developers' Association - Melbourne Chapter (IGDA)

(Anzac) A group for Australian and New Zealand game audio folk to meet, plan events and discuss all things game audio

Both these groups have monthly meetups in Melbourne where like minded individuals and companies come together to discuss latest trends, technology and both current and past projects.

Cons - Unprofessional manner sometimes, you'll see bias.

Professional development

Conferences and talks

Pros -  Online conferences or in person talks are a great way to learn new ways of thinking about whatever may be the topic. After each online conference or in person conference I have always walked away motivated with a new outlook on a given subject. These are also a great way to make networks with similar people.

Con = Not everyone has a lot of time to attend conferences and they can be expensive. Careful selection and planning is needed which ends up determining how many you can actually attend.
 

Keeping up with trends

TedX Talks

Pros - Ted talks are highly innovative and inspiring to watch (or listen, available on podcast) and are often given by leaders in the industry. This is definitely a great way to see concepts for new technology or ideas about where industry should or could be heading.

Cons - The downside of a Ted talk it’s usually only one individual's perspective and can be heavily biased.

Forums

Pros - Can be great for picking up general information about tools and tricks from experts or average Joe. I know that being pro active on a forum encourages you to try and solve people's problems or have your problems solved by someone else. Here you can find people experimentation with technology in different ways, depending on the quality of the forum.


Cons - People can be often deterred by a dominant force or overpowering voice. Poor quality forums or over populated forums can be time consuming to find information. Quality of information can vary highly.

Conclusion

So by combining all (or some) of these processes and by weighing up what works best for you can keep you in touch with the industry and latest technologies. Personally for I find going out and being active with face to face monthly meetings and conferences the most rewarding but also the hardest to find.

I’ll leave you with a quote I love,

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”  Albert Einstein.

References

Einstein, Albert. (n.d.) Brainyquote. Retrieved from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

Mind Tools. (2016). Using LinkedIn Effectively. Retrievd from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/linkedin.htm

Popick, Janine (2013, June 7). 4 Reasons Why You Should Attend Conferences. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/janine-popick/4-reasons-your-employees-should-attend-conferences.html