Last year, I was working on a project to redesign the audio experience of an existing IP that was trying to rebrand itself. At the time, if you had asked me if I thought it would be valuable to build a proof of concept for my ideas, I probably would have said “no.” I thought I didn’t need it, because I believed I knew what would work for the experience I was building and the kind of source I would need. Unfortunately, I was wrong. But because of it, I have since learned one big lesson: that proof of concepts are an incredibly valuable resource.
I imagine that everyone has their own definition of a “proof of concept.” I define it as a collection of assets, sounds in my case, that define the audio experience for the project or the portion of the project I’m working on. It’s how I can start to think about my soundscape from a global perspective before diving into asset creation.
Proof of concepts are also a way for me to think about how my sounds will fit together technically. In the example I mentioned earlier where I didn’t create one, if I had done so, I would have quickly seen that I was trying to create too many sounds that were overlapping in the same frequency range. Each sound by itself was good, but when combined together, turned to mush.
Additionally, in creating a proof of concept, I would have had the opportunity to test final compression settings and to understand how my sounds were translating over consumer grade speakers. As it was, I realized almost too late that a substantial component of the sounds I was creating sounded amazing in my studio and really crappy over the audience’s speakers.
Finally, a proof of concept would have been a way for me, as an audio designer, to solicit feedback from other designers or creatives. It would enable iteration at a much faster rate than normal development cycles, allowing for me to cut out other dependencies that quite often slow me down.
Because I didn’t create a proof of concept last year, I ended up much more stressed out and needing to trash and re-design new sounds way too late. I intend not to make that mistake again. Currently, I’m in the process of creating a proof of concept for a new project that I’ll be working on throughout 2017. With this, I will be able to test my ideas, see how my sounds fit together, find out how they sound on my audiences’ speakers, and iterate on feedback quickly. And because of this, I believe I will have a much more successful project in the end.
So, dear reader, what do you think? What does a proof of concept mean to you? Do you use them in your work? If so, are they valuable? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section or via twitter @designingsound.