Guest Contribution by Karrie Keyes
SoundGirls.Org was formed in 2013 by veteran live sound engineers: Karrie Keyes and Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato. In 2012, Karrie and Michelle participated in the “Women of Professional Concert Sound” panel at the AES Conference in San Francisco. The panel was hosted by the Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) and moderated by WAM founder Terri Winston. [ed: We’ve interviewed Terri about WAM in the past.] Terri brought together five women working in live and broadcast audio. The groundbreaking panel which also included Jeri Palumbo, Claudia Engelhart and Deanne Franklin, provided young women and men a glimpse into life on the road, tips and advice, and a Q & A with the panelists.
More importantly though, was how incredibly powerful the experience was for the panelists. We had all been in the business for 20 years or more, yet most of us had never met before that day and within minutes we bonded like long lost sisters. We were struck by how similar our experiences, work ethics, and passions were and wondered why our paths had never crossed and how our careers would have been different had we been there to support each other through the years. Each of us are strong on our own, but together we were even stronger and a powerful force. We were empowered. Each of us had been asked hundreds of times in our careers: Are there other women doing sound? How did you get into sound? How would a young woman go about getting into sound?
Guest contribution by Natalia Perez
Let me begin with a brief preface about myself. I am a woman studying film music and game audio at Berklee College of Music. I came to GDC for the first time this year wide-eyed and eager to learn. Coming from an institution that is 70% male, I know all too well the gender disparity that exists in everything I love and do. Though I have been fortunate enough to not let this affect me in a negative way, it is still a problem I am very passionate about addressing, hence why I decided to review this particular panel. I will be going over the topics that were presented, the answers the panel provided, and what I learned myself. Please note that any answer not directly quoted is to be taken as a mutual consensus by the panel.
The goal of the Women In Game Audio panel was to address the difficulties women face as they try to cultivate their careers, the pros and cons of versatility versus finding your own distinct voice, and how both men and women can help support more diversity in the industry.
Speakers included Laura Karpman (Lead Composer, Laura Karpman Music), Penka Kouneva (Lead Composer, Kouneva Studios), Paul Lipson (Senior Audio Director, Microsoft Studios), Corina Bello (Sound Designer, High Moon Studios), Benedicte Ouimet (Music Supervisor, Ubisoft Montreal), and Belinda van Sickle (President, Women in Games International). As you can see, we have quite the line up here. So what did our speakers have to say? (more…)
Jessica Curry is a Director and Composer at The Chinese Room, a game development studio based in Brighton, UK. The studio shipped their first game, Dear Esther in 2012 and are currently hard at work on their third, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
Designing Sound: Tell us a little about how you got started out as a composer? What kind of projects did you start out with?
Jessica Curry: I started composing when I was a little girl. I begged for piano lessons and loved it from the outset. I was always writing little songs; the first Mozartian classic being “Jessica Curry is in a hurry, she’s going on holiday/Hip hip, hurray, she’s going on holiday.” I think you can spot the innate talent right there. Then a fun three years reading English Literature and Language at University followed by a “what the hell are you doing with your life, you’re working at the Warner Brothers store” talk from my amazing late step-dad who gently pushed the National Film and Television screenwriting Screen Music course application under my nose. From then on, a vast and pretty bizarre array of projects. I often say that I’ve had a desperately unstrategic career but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always follow my heart rather than my head and this has led to some phenomenally interesting collaborations, ranging from a Requiem for a Second Life character for the Royal Opera House to writing lullabies for Great Ormond Street Hospital. So although I’ve very probably sacrificed recognition in one particular field, to me what I’ve gained is the most wonderful and unusual collection of projects and that to me has been worth far more. (more…)
Image by The Presler Project, used under a Creative Commons license. CLick image to view source.
Guest Contribution by April Tucker
Last year, I got one of the weirdest compliments I’ve ever heard: “You’re a real unicorn!” I was working with a mixer who I had recently met (but was an established mixer), and he looked at me in amazement as I asked questions about his workflow. “I’ve heard of Lora Hirschberg and Anna Behlmer, but I’ve never met a female mixer. I’m sorry I’m so taken aback, but I really didn’t think someone like you existed,” he said.
When I heard that the Designing Sound guys were stepping aside this month for women contributors, I thought it was a great chance to say, “Hey look! There’s actually a lot of real unicorns!” Except… it’s been pretty silent. I asked a few women who I thought might be interested, and one woman (who I highly respect) said, “I would rather not address our industry when my invitation is based on my gender. I look forward to writing based on the knowledge and expertise that I can offer as an equal member of the industry.”
A fitting announcement for International Women’s Day. In an effort to counter the 20% pay gap between men and women’s salaries, Sound Librarian will be making a permanent change to their pricing structure, by allowing women wishing to enroll for any course or access training materials for a 20% discount on advertised prices.
Speaking from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Stephan Schutze of Sound Librarian has said, “to counter the pay gap disparity, this will apply to regular pricing AND to any sale pricing of our products. [It] is a small attempt to address an imbalance and support women in games.”
Those wishing to take advantage of the policy will have to confirm their identity and applications will be processed manually. For further information, contact Stephan Schutze at Sound Librarian.
This month on Designing Sound we are celebrating the Women’s History Month with only posting contributions from female members of the community. There is so much to say about living in the year 2015 and still needing a special “month” to create awareness about the success, the stories and basically the existence of a whole gender. But as it is evident from the amount of harassment and abuse that took place in the last few months towards the female members of the gaming industry and community, even in the platforms and communities that deem themselves civilized and educated, inequality and patriarchial prejudices towards women are alive and well. (more…)
Tim Prebble’s modular
The first time I saw a modular synth, I was taken aback by the massive nest of patching cables, seemingly flying off in all directions and connecting various devices with countless knobs and flashing lights, somehow creating all kinds of strange sounds. Coming up in a mostly digital world, such a mass of wiring was somewhat foreign to me. Sure, I had put together studios before, but those kinds of wiring setups were far more linear, at least as far as I was concerned. While I had spent a lot of time with Propellerhead’s Reason, virtually patching together all kinds of sound modules, I couldn’t even begin to compare it to the sight of a rack of analog modular hardware. However, I finally got to sit behind a modular at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California last year, and after just a few moments of fiddling, I was hooked. (more…)
Used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.
I was born in England in 1988. Some of my earliest memories involve old BBC and Mac computers. I grew up listening to CDs, MiniDisks, playing “Duck Hunt” on my sister’s NES. The dial-up modem sounds are imprinted on my memory. I recall my father ordering books from Amazon.com back when that’s all Amazon sold. In my teen years I assembled my own computer to save money and grew to appreciate the inner workings of a computer. What I’m trying to say is, I’m an early product of the digital age, it’s all I’ve known.
Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, 661 Howard St.
If you’re coming to San Francisco for GDC, or just happen to be in the area regardless, a few of us from the website are heading to Thirsty Bear Brewing Company (661 Howard St.) at 6:30PM this Sunday (3/1/14). If you’re in town early, and are looking for something to do in the evening, you’re welcome to join us!
A two day course focusing on the voice and its import on cinematic sound will take place in York, UK next month.
Taught by industry specialists Neil Hillman, Adele Fletcher, Adam Severs and James Hyde, and led by Dr Sandra Pauletto (University of York), Creating Cinematic Voices: from script to mixing will cover a wide range of topics, including dialogue production recording, critical listening, voice sound design, working with directors and actors. It is aimed at early career film sound practitioners.
Creating Cinematic Voices will take place on 21-22 March, 2015, at a subsidised cost of £390.00 including accommodation.
For more information and to book: www.heslingtonstudios.com/training/