To those reading this in the U.S., Happy Labor Day!
To those elsewhere, happy Monday.
Labor Day…It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Given the sentiment of this holiday, I thought it might be the perfect occasion to take a moment to appreciate the individuals currently behind DesigningSound.org. And what better way to honor the precious time they put into this site than to take up more of it by demanding they answer my questions on the matter! Joking aside, it takes a lot of effort to keep this site going. We’re so thankful to our readers, guest contributors and each other for making this a platform worth contributing our time to.
If you want a little context, you can learn a little about each of us and the origins of the site itself on our “About” page.
How and when did you discover DesigningSound.org?
Jack Menhorn: Designing Sound was just always around when I got into game audio in the late aughts. Oft-linked to or referenced by others: it was an institution like the cable company or the McRib. It was taken for granted by me that it was always there and would always be.
Michael Klier: I’m actually not sure about the how or when but DS has been a valuable resource for me as long as I can remember!
Brad Meyer: Sometime in the past 5-8 years. I can’t quite remember how I first stumbled upon DS. I think it may have been an interview with my friend and colleague, Rob Bridgett. It was definitely interviews that caught me early on with sound design luminaries like Randy Thom and Gary Rydstrom. After that, I started checking back more often and reading the various articles about sound because I was always finding little nuggets of inspiration.
Ashley Coull: In 2011, I graduated college with a degree in Molecular Biology. And at the time, I thought I knew what I wanted to do: go get a Ph.D., become a research scientist, and work forever in a cool lab solving the world’s problems. But there was just one problem. When I started actually doing the work, I realized I hated it. So I left everything behind and went back to the drawing board. I looked hard at my passions: music, performance, and recording, and started to integrate them with the technical and critical thinking that I had grown accustomed to in school. And I found that when I integrated the two fields together, I was left with audio recording, design, systems building, and implementation. It was then that I discovered Designing Sound. Through those initials years of transition, trying to break the ice of thought and ideas that would eventually become post-production film concepts, recording concepts, technical workflow… you name it. Designing Sound was, in effect, my introduction to the field.
Shaun Farley: I first came across Designing Sound back in early 2007 when my coworker sent me a link to an article there. I don’t remember how, exactly, he found his way there, but I was instantly hooked. The site was also how I discovered the first iteration of Social Sound Design, which was a key factor in growing my professional network and gaining confidence in my abilities.
Wilfried Nass: I discovered Designing Sound when I was studying audio design, actually. I don’t remember how, but I stumbled upon this article and was amazed by the amount and quality of information in it. One bit from this article actually stuck with me to this day as an amazing piece of knowledge, which I’d like to share with you: “In Japan, for example, it is because we lack physical space that you can’t have the volume cranked up in everyday life―so maybe because of this we needed to make small, sharp, distinctive sound effects in games.”. As a student sound designer, this was an amazing thing to learn.
Luca Fusi: I was just a few months into my year at Vancouver Film School when I came upon Designing Sound. It was uncommonly thoughtful site on an underrepresented discipline, and a really promising gateway to all of the incredible discussion around sound design that was happening even back in 2011.
Adriane Kuzminski: I heard about Designing Sound in 2013 when I was transitioning from film editing to sound and looking for audio meetups to learn more about the industry. The AES meetup in NYC came up in my search results, and though I’d neither heard of Designing Sound nor AES, I went to the get-together and had a memorable weekend with people I still consider friends today.
What value do you see DesigningSound.org as having in the wider community, what makes it unique?
Jack Menhorn: The academic/journalistic tone we have is a bit unique in that we aren’t academics or journalists. The integrity we strive for is not at the cost of advertisement or tenure: we are professionals speaking to other professionals. I hope and believe DesigningSound’s subject matter is a bit more on-point to what professionals want to read because it is what we as professionals want to read.
Michael Klier: I really like the open & community driven approach of DS & that it’s 100% non-profit & unbiased.
Brad Meyer: I appreciate the thematic content. It’s neat both to have several articles a month revolving around a specific theme, but I also enjoy how people interpret that theme. It’s a fun box to paint people in and no matter what the subject ends up being, there’s generally something useful. I also feel the diversity of voices contributing to DS give it a unique place in the blogosphere.
Ashley Coull: We need communities like Designing Sound. When industries are small and fairly close knit, I believe that we sometimes fail to see the value in a publicized forum sharing thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. But it’s actually at the heart of our industry. A shared resource is our way of giving back to the audio community, to strengthen all of our connections, and to build up the integrity of our industry as a whole.
Shaun Farley: I think the thing that has ALWAYS made Designing Sound unique IS the community. DS has always been run by volunteers, and all of the content is created by volunteers…many of them aren’t even part of the “staff” of the site. No one has ever been paid to do anything for the site, and it has become this mammoth resource with a bottom that’s hard to find. The effort that the community has put into it is humbling. That’s also its value. The knowledge that everything comes from working professionals who just want to share their knowledge and inspire others to do the same.
Wilfried Nass: What makes it unique in my opinion is both its massive community mixing veterans, students and everyone else in the middle and its team of passionate editors from various backgrounds. This interesting mix allows us to publish articles about the various shapes audio can take, along with interviews from a lot of audio people from around the world. The community is equally important in helping us build a place (mainly through DSExchange) where people can ask anything sound-related and be sure to get answers from several people, again from students to veterans.
Luca Fusi: Designing Sound’s got a lot of corners, but I find its strongest side to be its long form content. It’s been a consistently dependable resource for really in-depth stuff like interviews, tutorials, post-mortems and opinion pieces–the sorts of things that you’ll read and carry with you for the next few weeks as their insights work their way around your brain.
There’s so much more discussion out there than there was when I first started reading, but none of it really lives very long, or it’s very one to one: question, answer. Designing Sound is newspaper-grade sound design reading, for me. Coffee and a pastry sound design reading.
Its balanced, big picture coverage of both film and game sound design is another standout facet.
Adriane Kuzminski: Designing Sound is unique because it is run purely on individual passion for sound and community. Whether it’s an interview, news post, or monthly theme, the subject matter always evolves from the writer’s personal interest in the subject, rather than metrics or advertising dollars. We may not be perfect, but you’ll always find perspective here.
What initially made you want to volunteer your time to DesigningSound.org and what makes you continue to do so?
Jack Menhorn: Miguel needed someone to take the reins and why wouldn’t I want to be part of something as illustrious as DesigningSound.org? The site is a living, breathing entity that I have the honor to help take care of and foster it’s growth. It would be hard to turn away from something I have helped maintain and evolve alongside of.
Michael Klier: When DS had the open call for contributors in 2016 I saw that as a chance to give something back to the community by getting involved as a news editor which is still the case today
Brad Meyer: I never had a mentor or a community when I was learning the ropes of sound design. I was isolated in a room teaching myself everything I could. And failing miserably for several years. As I’ve grown as a sound designer and learned more of the trade, I want to share back with the community I’ve found over and provide for others, what I was lacking early on: community, knowledge, and kinship.
Ashley Coull: I volunteered for Designing Sound to give back to the kind of person that I was when I first discovered the site. I felt that it was important to support this kind of resource for the community, and believed that volunteering to be a contributing editor was my way of helping.
Shaun Farley: In the year I was visiting the site before joining up, it had become my primary resource for developing and honing my workflow and techniques (it’s a never-ending process). When Miguel, the site’s founder, said he needed help, I felt compelled to do so. I had already gained a lot from the site, and was pursuing some of my own methods for contributing to the wider community. It just made sense to bring that to DS and help lighten Miguel’s load.
Wilfried Nass: I was saddened by the lack of interviews from sound designers in general on the Internet (don’t get me wrong, there are, just not as many as I’d wish) so I wanted to be able to give a voice to the audio people by doing as many interviews as I could. I submitted that project to “The DS Comity” and they seem to have liked it, apparently!
Luca Fusi: Apart from the personal impact Designing Sound’s made on the way I think about sound design? I think it’s that its content format is one of my favorites. On the things I have anything to say about, I’ve a lot to say, and I really enjoy crafting the sorts of articles that feel at home on Designing Sound.
It’s also got a totally wide and unpredictable reach. The things I contribute will be challenged and thought about. It’s tempting to live entirely within our own tribes and echo chambers on the Internet these days, but it’s good to get pushback and perspectives you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I like to think I’m able to contribute content that’s only mine, hits an audience that someone else’s will not, and that all of us on the team are here to compliment one another. But I am totally open to that changing!
Adriane Kuzminski: From attending that first meetup and learning so much from both past and present contributors, Designing Sound has helped me shape my own role in audio by giving me a realistic and inviting look at the industry. I felt (and still feel) indebted to DS, so when Shaun asked if I wanted to join in 2015, I was happy to contribute.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a volunteer for DesigningSound.org?
Jack Menhorn: Time. Since we are all volunteers there are much more important things going on like jobs, family, mental wellness, hobbies, all of which impede our ability to consistently make huge articles and interviews as the site is well-regarded for. I, like others have stepped back a bit from regularly contributing and help out in other ways with moderation, administration, but even then it’s still a good chunk of time!
Michael Klier: Mostly lack of time when I’m super busy or on the road, somehow missing important/relevant news, bad Internet connections & a general insecurity about my English.
Brad Meyer: Juggling work, life and a writing gig. It gets a bit stressful sometimes to realize you’re halfway through the month and haven’t even figured out what you’re doing for this month’s topic!
Ashley Coull: The fear of the next article. It’s a weird one, I know, but I’m constantly worried about what my next article will be. What if I don’t know anyone that wants to be interviewed? What if I fail the community in creating content that is relevant and interesting? What if the article I wrote just plain ol’ sucks? Or gets bad comments? Either way, at the end of the day, I’m just a girl behind the computer trying my best to learn as I interview so that I can teach the community too.
Shaun Farley: Time. My work schedule is dense, and the personal professional development I pursue these days doesn’t always lend itself to the kind of content that’s well suited for the site. That’s why I’m more of a background element these days, making sure the site doesn’t break. I do have some things I want to put together…I just need a week or two off to actually do it.
Wilfried Nass: Time, obviously. We all try to commit to at least 1 article a month based on the current theme, but sometimes, life gets in the way, sadly.
Luca Fusi: It is absolutely the challenge of creating content worth reading on a regular basis. The readership of the site’s so broadly experienced that I feel an intense pressure to post only perspectives and explorations that I’m dead certain of, but this leads to a lot of half- or non-starts and droughts in content. Keeping that part of my mind and schedule moving on a regular basis is tough for me. It’s a question of priorities, and I feel personally concerned that I leave too much slack to the rest of the team.
Adriane Kuzminski: It can be tough to volunteer when time is short and you’re in that draining slurry of guilt that stems from priorities not being in order. Luckily we’ve all been there.
What’s the biggest reward you’ve received as a volunteer for DesigningSound.org?
Jack Menhorn: Friendship. Guest article contributors, fellow Contributing Editors, and readers of the site have all become friends through me being involved with DS. Especially being in an uncommon area for my profession- the ability to connect and communicate through the shared interest in collaboration and exchange of ideas on the site has been quite wonderful personally and professionally.
Michael Klier: Getting to be a part of such an awesome group of people & the chance to actively contribute a little to the community.
Brad Meyer: The feeling of being part of the DS community, both as a contributing editor and as someone who reads the articles and gains knowledge and insight from everyone volunteering their wisdom.
Ashley Coull: Having my articles read. When I get cold emailed by a contractor out in Scotland saying, ‘Hey, I saw your article in Designing Sound,’ my heart explodes with happiness. Because that means that somewhere out in the big dark world of the internet’s… someone is reading.
Shaun Farley: I already mentioned how amazing the community is, and the biggest reward for me was how centrally positioned DS made me in it. I’ve met people and learned things I wouldn’t have on my own. It gave me confidence in my skills, and all of the work I did on the site gave others that same confidence in me. I honestly don’t believe I would be where I am today if I hadn’t volunteered. I mean, I’ve spoken at the Smithsonian about sound design. How many people can say they’ve had that kind of opportunity?!
Wilfried Nass: Being able to interact with some amazing people when interviewing them, I’d say. It’s exactly what I wanted to do when I joined the website, and exactly what I still want to do today. Being able to offer them some space online (and even moreso on a website with quite a large audience) truly is amazing and would, hopefully, help transport some audio ideas and concepts outside of the sound design community, or help other sound designers in their everyday job.
Luca Fusi: There’s been no single biggest reward for me, it’s sort of a generalized sense of reward over time. The rewards are the personal responses to something you’ve written, the discussions that come out of it, all those connections made. I still glow warmly thinking of our Inspiration / Distraction month and how much community sourcing we were able to for that one, and how grateful everyone felt to be spotlit! I really like it when Designing Sound tangibly gives back. I bet you you’ll see some others talking about the Designing Sound exchange for that same reason.
Adriane Kuzminski: Writing for Designing Sound has helped me learn how to express myself and be confident in my own knowledge and passion for sound. As I continue to meet new people from the site and at meetups, I’m always reminded of that first get-together and why I love the audio community.
Again, to learn more about the individuals that keep this site running, and to learn a little about the origins of the site itself, head over to our “About” page.