Why I chose to study Sound Design - MSc
After finishing my undergraduate programme in Musiques Numériques at the University of Montreal, I considered either continuing my academic education with a postgraduate degree or pursuing a career in the professional world. One thing I felt certain about was that if I was going to go for a masters degree it had to be very hands-on and not solely based on theory and research. Being a creative person and aiming for a career in a creative industry, it was particularly important for me to continue to explore and grow in my craft in a practical sense, and to continue to develop the skills that would eventually get me hired in the industry. The MSc in Sound Design at ECA seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for with the depth of research typical of a postgraduate degree, as well as diverse and fulfilling creative work as part of the curriculum. Paired with skilled teachers and professors, good facilities and a fantastic location, the MSc in Sound Design was very promising, so I simply decided to go for it.
Tell us about your time at ECA
My time at ECA started with meeting the rest of my programme cohort, and this rapidly came to define the kind of experience I was going to have through the duration of my studies at ECA. I found that my peers were extremely talented, inspiring and creative individuals, from whom I learned just as much as from the course itself. Advice, assistance and knowledge were shared enthusiastically between students which, given the great diversity of our backgrounds and specialities, made each of us progress even further into our respective crafts. Today, my fellow alumni are still some of my best friends and most esteemed peers, and I am delighted to see them continue to pursue their interests in sound in various forms (academia, theatre, film, games, experimental and artistic, etc). The programme curriculum also reflected this diversity in specialities, offering courses exploring all aspects of Sound Design, from linear and interactive media such as films and videogames to multimedia installations and sound recording techniques, and from in-depth software skill development to creative audio analysis and research.
One of my most memorable projects consisted of an audio-visual installation titled Exploring Entropy, where my coursemates (Juanjo Ripalda, Gaby Yanez, Adam Howard, Euan McKenzie) and myself developed an ever-evolving sound piece based on a self-regulated feedback system which was paired with a visual representation of the audio processes taking place. Where the sound was played back through rusted metal plates with the help of audio transducers, reacting to the space and the human interactions within it. Given that my current line of work does not involve developing and preparing sound installations, this was a fantastic opportunity to explore this creative field.
Now knowing how my career has evolved, I would love to be able to do the MSc in Sound Design once more and dive even deeper into all aspects of sound design that are not part of my daily routine. The academic environment truly represents a golden opportunity to learn a range of skills outside one’s specialities.
My experiences since graduating
Completing this programme and everything it involved is one of my proudest accomplishments. I believe it has propelled me into my career, not only through the practical experience gained while being there but also thanks to the social connections made during that time. Indeed, the game audio industry forms a very tight-knit community from all around the world and expanding my network of peers from North America to the UK and Europe has turned out to be exceedingly beneficial in the years that followed. Thanks to my positive experience of the MSc in Sound Design, I was eager to repeat that experience within the game audio community, which led me to be involved in publishing blog articles and interviews, recording tutorials and sharing sound recordings and the techniques I used to make them.
Since graduating in 2015, I have worked for three different game studios, moved to three different countries, and been credited for sound design on three published videogames: It Takes Two (Hazelight, Stockholm), Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Eidos Montreal) and Start Trek Fleet Command (Digit Games, Dublin). I also have a growing list of guest speaking and masterclass engagements where I feel lucky to be able to give back to the community in an educational sense and participate in training new game audio professionals by sharing what I have learned so far.
Overall, I am especially satisfied with the international nature of my professional endeavours, which has resulted in the creation of meaningful personal and professional connections around the world. I believe this is in large part attributed to my time spent at ECA, the people I met there, and the overwhelmingly positive experience I had.
My advice to new and current students
The main piece of advice I would like to share with both prospective students and alumni is to not underestimate the knowledge and the skills that exist within your cohort on top of what you are meant to learn through the programme. Connect and share knowledge with your fellow students from the Sound Design programme, but also from other music and sound programmes within ECA. To someone graduating, I would advise you to not limit yourself and to keep all your doors open in terms of what will come next, whether it is further studies or job opportunities.