Transitioning from sound to code

An exploration how I got to do what I do.

I was working with sound for quite some time. First as a DJ, then starting to create beats and little musical sketches on Soundcloud (RIP 💜). After high school I ended up as an intern at a company that just had an opening for a sound designer and I fit in really well. At that point in time I had absolutely no experience doing sound design except for programming some synthesizer patches. Over the next there years I got to experiment and learn as much as I could. On the job and in my spare time. Sound became my life.

Up to that point all my knowledge came from musicians around me with some recording experiences as well as the Internet in form of music production tutorials. The knowledge I had was shallow and fragmented. I decided to pursue a deeper education as there is only so much that the internet can teach you when it comes to specialized knowledge.

Moving continent was a whirlwind experience. My studies in sound design at the Vancouver Films School taught me everything I wanted to know about linear media and so much more. But they also introduced me to the basic concepts of game audio. This seemed a much more creative environment to me. Not only were there no restrictions on which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to use but the interactivity opened my mind to the possibilities of the current century. You can make sounds and decide how they work together through code!

After school I started my career as a freelance sound designer specifically aiming at games. I had a couple of interactions with developers and ended up creative sounds for games that shipped (and some that didn’t). I participated in game jams. But what really got me was the same issue I had with film sound: the restriction in tools. This time the DAW was my choice, but the audio facilities in the game engines my clients were working in were rather limiting. Random sound playback had to be implemented from scratch and middleware tools like FMOD or Wwise were a struggle to pitch.

As I was wondering how I could improve this situation I started learning C# scripting in Unity. Then my dad came to visit me in Vancouver and we ended up costing together for a few days – him explaining to me some fundamental data structures and how to use them in the context of the Unity API. We ended up costing a simple yet powerful audio tool that enabled me to do all my audio implementation independent of a programmer, as well as the skills to tweak and improve the tools behavior.

Sharing my learning experience on Twitter I soon was approached by my friend and now boss to join A Shell In The Pit Audio as the companies audio programmer. I’m still learning everyday and improving my skills. Stepping deeper into the depths of the audio architecture. This is the most creative I have been in my career. It feels incredibly powerful being able to create anything I can imagine in code. And it feels incredibly freeing to be problem solving on such and abstract level where subjective options are rare. There real has moved from an esthetic design to a user friendly design. My sound designers need a usable interactions to define interactive sounds behavior. Our clients need a simple to use API to play those sounds.

My audio tools are constantly evolving as I learn and ship games. It’s been a wild ride and I have had a lot of great experiences along the way but my story is not finished here either. Hopefully you enjoyed this little read. If you want to see what I’m up to it want queer thinks in your feed, follow me on Twitter. Otherwise until next time 😘