As has come before; many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…Please bare with us as we traverse the abstract canals of audio musings.
Have you ever reached a point in your career where you’d look back at what you’ve achieved and feel dissatisfied without knowing exactly why? I’ve been reflecting upon a common thread in our industry, which is the statement ‘well… that’s my secret.’ Despite having said that many times before, I’ve been feeling bothered by it for a while now.
When I lived in Brazil I had little access to information. English was not the issue here; the investment and incentive of the audiovisual industry is not nearly as good as that of the US and Canada, for example. Before acquiring international experience my learning resources were limited mainly to books, ‘making of’ documentaries and short technical courses that’d only scratch the surface. I did have a notion of post production audio, however the methodology of why to cut sounds in particular ways and how to analytically and creatively translate visuals to sound were virtually nonexistent.
I’ve been professionally active in the industry for a bit more than 2 years at the time of this article, and a big portion of what I’ve learned so far was either shared or taught by people who were kind enough not to think of me as their competition. The idea of maintaining a secret can be related to the fear of losing an opportunity to others—that’s what I’ve come to realize about my own insecurities. However, when I critically think about this mindset, the thought that I’d be preventing beginners or professionals from succeeding and maybe even innovating is even worse. Whereas I consider competition to be imperative to both our personal and professional developments, I believe there’s room for improvement in the way we currently perceive it.
Early in September I went on vacation to Vancouver and, by coincidence, the Vancouver Sound Designers group hosted a presentation from Re-recording Mixer Gary Bourgeois. He spoke a lot about how he broke into the industry, told us some fun stories about his experience and even shared plenty of strategies on how to approach a dialogue mix more efficiently. What caught my attention the most was nevertheless his perspective on giving secrets away:
‘It’s not just a matter of how to use something, it’s also a matter of how you’re thinking. It’s about learning from those who keep you up-to-date and ahead of the curve.’ – Gary Bourgeois
And he’s right… In reality, tools are just things that are going to be used by people in different ways for different purposes. His tricks of the trade are set as but starting points for what his creative thinking will be as the project moves on.
My recent dissatisfaction emanated from a personal issue I was having at work. You see, I spent all my career thinking that what would make me unique were my set of tools and techniques, and if I were to keep my job safe, I’d have to just do my own thing and keep my mouth shut. One day I was asked to run through my dialogue editing workflow with one of our interns, and a mixed feeling of joy and anxiety hit me instantaneously. On the one hand, I was looking forward to helping him out; on the other hand, my ego was pushing me back.
Reluctant, I began by demonstrating my logic behind session management when all the sudden I realized that the intern was at the very same position as I was in Brazil. That was the moment where it hit me that I was approaching collaboration in a dangerous way. In many ways, if I had chosen to follow my ego I’d be preventing a beginner from learning and gaining self confidence. That’s what would truly cost me my job in the long run. Maybe what makes you unique is the way you collaborate in a team instead of what technical secrets you have to get the job done.
On Sunday Sound Thought #82, Luca Fusi reminded us of why do we keep creating. On this iteration, allow me to remind you of another reason to persevere: we were all beginners at one point or another, and our abilities are being constantly improved by the kindness of others.
Finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes…
‘When you change the way you look at things, what you look at change.’ – Max Planck
…as well as a speech from our wise friend, Joey Tribbiani: