Cope with game audio layoffs - with Brian Schmidt Asbjoern Andersen


Working in game audio offers some fantastic opportunities and experiences, but game development is also a volatile industry where mass layoffs and sudden studio closures are all-too-frequent. This series is dedicated to helping you prepare for, cope with and bounce back from layoffs when working in audio.

We're looking at it from a game audio perspective, but the vast majority of advice in this series will apply to anyone working in audio:


By Jennifer Walden and Asbjoern Andersen
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In this installment, we talk to Brian Schmidt — creator of GameSoundCon (held this year from Oct. 29 – 30 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, CA). He’s also a frequent keynote speaker at other game industry and sound-related conferences, like Game Developers Conference, Montreal Interactive Games Summit, and the Audio Engineering Society Conference.

Schmidt has been in the game sound industry for over 30 years and has worked on over 140 titles. His clients include major game studios like Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, Capcom, Namco, Zynga, and Sega to name a few. He’s even an inventor of audio and game technology, with about 20 patents to his name. Schmidt was the 2008 recipient of the Game Audio Network Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here, Schmidt discusses ways to prepare for and power through a layoff in the game audio industry:
 

Should game audio pros automatically plan for a layoff, even if their job seems stable?
Brian Schmidt (BS): The video game industry can be volatile. Even large companies like Microsoft or Amazon can have layoffs in their game audio groups. Or new management decides to outsource work that was previously done by in-house employees. Or a small company discovers it’s burned through its capital faster than they thought and the hammer falls. So it definitely makes sense to always keep that in the back of your mind to be ready in case it happens.
 

What can they do to prepare ahead of time?
BS: 1) Stay informed: Keep in touch with what’s going on in the game industry overall, and in game audio in particular.

2) Stay current: Are you up on the latest tools and tech? If your studio is a hardcore Pro Tools + FMOD shop, see what the latest version of Wwise, Fabric, ADX or CRI has to offer.

3) Stay connected: It’s very easy to become disconnected with the community at large when you work in-house; you already have co-workers to keep you social, so don’t let the fact you have a great in-house position keep you from hitting the local audio meet-ups.

4) Get Visible: If you’re working in-house, especially on a reasonably well known title, don’t be afraid to parlay that cache to benefit your own personal brand. Apply to be a speaker at conferences (GDC, GameSoundCon, AES, etc.), and get to be known external to the company, especially if there are interesting or unique things you are doing.

 

When a layoff happens, what are some things to do immediately to help soften the blow? Do you have any strategies for finding a new position?
BS: There are obvious financial things you should take care of pretty quickly. Hopefully you had previously set aside an emergency fund to help soften the blow (for some great overall financial advice, I’m a big fan of Jill Schlesinger’s site and podcast). Or receive a bit of a severance package to help things.

Give yourself a few days to settle down, but I’d say within a week, start your new ‘job’ of ‘finding your new job.’

If the company is large enough, they may have resources to help you find employment elsewhere. Make use of them. That’s what they’re there for.

Give yourself a few days to settle down, but I’d say within a week, start your new ‘job’ of ‘finding your new job.’

Your job of finding your job can take several forms. For example:

• Update your demo reel: Make a great demo reel, showing off your most recent achievements and/or things you’re especially proud of.

• Block out some number of hours each day for skills improvement: Never played with Unity or Unreal? Go through the audio tutorials. Pick up a “Making Unity Games for Dummies” book and work through it. Set up that orchestral template you’ve been meaning to. Dive into parts of your DAW you haven’t before.

Kick the tires at video editing (videos can make demo reels). We have a great advantage that the tools needed for game audio are either free (Unity, Unreal, FMOD, Wwise, etc.) or reasonably priced (Reaper, Avid Media Composer First, etc.). Always been meaning to get Wwise certified? Now’s the perfect time to go through all their tutorials.

Or dive into the innards of Excel or Google Sheets (Yes, I know someone who got a gig partly because she was one of the only applicants to have successfully worked through the full Excel part of the sound design take home test she was given).

• Look for networking opportunities: Both anecdotally and more formal surveys seem to show that most game audio gigs are gotten through networking or referral. So check your local scene for both audio and game developer hangouts, meet-ups, conferences, seminars, etc. Get out there and be seen/heard.

• Look for actual job listings: Even using the right keywords in a source like Indeed can show a lot of openings. One of the best sites out there for audio job listings is www.soundlister.com, which is constantly being updated.

• If you don’t’ have a website, now’s the perfect time to create one: I’m partial to Wix, but I’ve also heard that Squarespace and Weebly are very easy to use.

One almost silly sounding recommendation while doing the above is: Get up in the morning. Get dressed and “go to work” (presumably in your home office or studio) with a reasonable, consistent schedule, putting in a full work-day

One almost silly sounding recommendation while doing the above is: Get up in the morning. Get dressed and “go to work” (presumably in your home office or studio) with a reasonable, consistent schedule, putting in a full work-day.
Not only can that make you more likely to follow-through, but it also means that when your workday is done, you can stop and not feel like you should still be looking for a gig.
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • From 24/96 Sound Effects. Immersive Crowds in Motion features 58 HD 24 Bit / 96 kHz Surround Sound Effects with a large selection of Interior and Exterior moving crowds. Train stations, conventions, sporting events and more. Recorded with a Voyage Audio 2nd Order Spatial Microphone. Recording locations were centrally located within the crowd for better immersion. Intelligible words have been reduced or removed when possible.

    Mastered with ProTools Ultimate in 3 configurations: Ambisonic (Ambix 2nd Order (Wyzxrstuv), Atmos™ 7.1.2 Surround Sound (LRCLfeLssRssLrsRrsLtsRts) and Stereo (L-R). Most tracks are 2-3 minutes in length with embedded metadata. All-new, original recordings.

    Want a taste of what’s included? Download the O2A and 7.1.2 Surround Demo files here: https://tinyurl.com/ImmersiveCrowdDemo and try it out on your own system!

    10 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580943599
  • SCI-FI GUNNERY is a collection of high-quality futuristic gunshot sound effects.

    It features 330 sounds of anything from big artillery hydraulic guns to small ray blaster and handguns.

    Collection consists of 105 different weapons.
    Every weapon comes with 5-6 variations that have slightly different pitch (+/-0.4 semitones) and time alignment
    (+/- 15ms) for maximum realism.
    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data.

    Download includes:
    96-192KHZ 24BIT version
    44.1KHZ 16BIT MONO version for Unreal Engine
    44.1KHZ 16BIT STEREO version for Unreal Engine

    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH8060 + ATE208 + DPA4060, PCM D100

    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: RX, Pro Tools, Brufri, DMGAudio, Reaktor, Massive, Serum, Monark, Alto, Soundtoys, Live.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580857199
    Add to cart
  • Several waterfalls and rivers recorded in the Vosges Mountains in France.
    It tooks place in three different location: Cascade Charlemagne, Pont des Fées, Saut des Cuves.
    For almost every place, several microphones placements were used at close, medium and far distance.
    In addition to the 2 stereo microphone pairs, a hydrophone track is also available to allow you to modulate the low end and to add more movement.

    Gear used:
    Sound Devices 788T
    MKH8020 stereo pair
    MKH8040 stereo pair
    JRF hydrophone
    Add to cart
  • Cars Porsche Macan S 3.0 V6 Play Track 200+ sounds included, 354 mins total $150 $130

    The Porsche Macan S 3.0 V6 sound library features 198 high-quality files recorded with a multi-mic setup. The Engine was recorded in sync with interior cabin ambient, and you can expect different styles of driving. From casual city driving, through accelerations on a highway up to rpm ramps and constant rpm loops for game audio.

    In addition to engine recordings, this sound effects library features exterior passes, whooshes and other road-related sounds recorded in mono and stereo on dry asphalt.

    Last but not least, different foley were recorded to cover exterior and interior activities. In addition to designed onboard recordings, there are also premixed stems for the engine, intake and exhaust and RAW files, of each microphone without any post-processing.

    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580597999
    Add to cart
  • Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are all around us, they are everywhere and each electronic device produces them. Imagine a whole new world hidden from us. It is time to lift the veil of secrecy and look into it.

    This library contains raw electronic sounds – a perfect source for sci-fi movies, trailers, games, computer interfaces, experimental music or whatever you can think of. The frequency range of these sounds is impressive, it reaches 48 kHz allowing you to effectively manipulate their pitch and spectrum.

    All sounds are sorted into categories, such as: Glitch, Hum, Click, Movement, Distortion, Beep and many others, which makes it easy to navigate and choose not only by the recorded object but by the type of sound it generates. And last, but not least: this library was recorded with high-quality 96KHz/24bit.

    Equipment used:

    • LOM Audio Elektrosluch Mini City
    • Sound Devices MixPre 6

    Main features:

    • 134 raw electronic sounds with variations
    • Perfect source for all kinds of harsh noises, glitches, drones, movements, whooshes, beeps, hum, clicks, buzz, nasty distortions etc
    • Astonishing frequency range up to 48KHz
    • Created for further manipulation with spectrum and pitch
    • Recorded with high quality 96Khz/24bit
    • Categorized by types: Glitch, Hum, Click, Movement, Distortion, Beep and so on
    • Contains metadata for search engines

     

    52 %
    OFF
    Ends 1583017199
    Add to cart


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 
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Do you feel that freelancing is a viable path forward?
BS: Freelancing is definitely a viable path. In fact, as a composer, it’s far more likely you get hired as a freelancer than a full-time employee (although that does occur, too). However, freelancing isn’t just working, but for multiple employers. You have to get yourself into an entrepreneurial mindset. Most of the successful freelancers I know either enjoy that aspect of being freelance (to a certain extent), or have partnered with someone who is.
 

More on bouncing back from a layoff – with Damian Kastbauer:

For the first installment in this series, game audio guru Damian Kastbauer was kind enough to share his thoughts on how to land on your feet after a layoff – you can read his insights here.
 

Any other advice you’d like to share on surviving a layoff?
BS: I keep thinking back to the first 2 questions — the best way to survive one is probably to have prepared for it. Perform at your current job with professionalism, integrity and by being a pleasure to work with. The industry’s not large, and people always want to work with people who are great to work with.

I keep thinking back to the first 2 questions — the best way to survive one is probably to have prepared for it

A layoff will no doubt be a stressful time, with a lot of factors that are highly personalized. Don’t be shy to avail yourself of any resources or support that are there for you, be they corporate/professional or personal and family.
 

A big thanks to Brian Schmidt for the insights! Find out more about him and GameSoundCon here.

 

Please share this:


 

 


 


Succeed in sound:

• How to Set (and Get) the Right Price for Your Audio Work

• 10 Essential Tips for Game Audio Freelancers

• How to be a successful sound designer – with Scott Gershin

• 5 Useful Tips for Upcoming Sound Designers and Sound Editors

• Sound Opinions: How to get game audio pricing right

• Building a successful audio post studio – with Kate Finan and Jeff Shiffman

• Rebuilding your studio: Goals, tips and lessons learned

• Creating audio for games – with Martin Stig Andersen

• A life in sound: How to foster creativity and protect yourself from burning out – with Chance Thomas

• Tips and thoughts on running your own audio post production house – with William McGuigan

• 7 Sound Alternatives to Working For Free

• Audio Outsourcing Success: Essential Tips, Thoughts and Working Practices from Adele Cutting

 
 
The sound success series:

• How to succeed in UI/UX Sound Design, ADR Recording, & Audio Programming

• How to succeed in sound design for Film, Documentaries, and Trailers

• How to succeed in sound design for Games, Animation, and Television

How to succeed in Field Recording, Foley, and Teaching Sound

• How to succeed in Audio Branding, Music Editing, and sound for VR

• How to succeed in Theater Sound Design, Podcast Sound Design, and Podcast Production

• How to succeed in Sound Editing, Sound for Advertising, and Production Sound

 
Breaking into audio – guides and resources:

• The ‘Quit Aspiring’ book – by Adam Croft

• 4 Effective Ways to Break into Game Audio

• Tips for Creating a Perfect Resume for Audio Industry Jobs

• Yet Another Game Audio Hiring Article – by Ariel Gross

• 5 Tips for Getting a Job in the Audio Industry

• Applying for a job in game audio – by Matthew Florianz

• Freelance Game Audio: Getting Started and finding work – by Ashton Morris

• How to get started (and make it) in game audio – 10+ fundamental questions answered by Akash Thakkar

• Courses: How to network and get paid for your work in the game industry – by Akash Thakkar

• How to Craft a Perfect Cover Letter for Audio Industry Jobs
 
 
Finding those audio jobs:

• Get the weekly Audio Jobs newsletter

• Join the Audio Jobs Facebook group
 
 
Showcasing your work:
 
• Get a free profile on Soundlister

• Upload your demos to Soundcloud

• Upload your demos to ReelCrafter
 
 
Networking:
 
• Find game audio community groups around the world

• Find interesting audio events around the world

• Find other audio pros around the world
 
 
Coping with a layoff - and how to bounce back:

• How to prepare for – and power through – a layoff in the game audio industry, with Brian Schmidt:

• How to Survive a Game Audio Layoff – insights from Damian Kastbauer

• What it’s like to be laid off from your video game studio

• What To Do Before and After Being Laid Off

• Facebook Group: Survival Skills for Creatives
 
 
Education and knowledge:
 
• Get an audio mentor at the Audio Mentoring Project

• How To Learn Game Audio Online – A talk with Game Audio Educator Leonard Paul

• Read the 100s of sound stories and guides on the A Sound Effect blog (search for stories here)

• Browse Industry Data: Game Music and Sound Design Salary Survey Results

• Browse 100+ Sound Design Guides

• Essential books about sound – for film, games and audio post production

• Get tips and ideas for making your own sound effects

• Discover 1000s of sound libraries from the independent sound community

• Take online courses in Wwise, FMOD Studio, Unity, Pure Data & Unreal at the School of Video Game Audio
 
 
Getting into independent sound effects:
 
• DIY SFX libraries - Your guide to your first sound effects library

• Sound effects survey results: Here are 90+ ideas for new SFX libraries

• How to create an indie sound bundle

• The quick-start guide to adding sound FX library metadata
 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Ice Frozen Play Track 809 sounds included $45 $23

    Frozen is a collection of ice impacts, scrapes, debris, slides and more taken during a miserably cold winter in the arctic tundra of Massachusetts. These recordings were meticulously recorded, edited, named, renamed, edited again, re recorded, then re-renamed (you get the point) to give you the best quality ice library you can get.

    The library roughly is broken into two sections, raw and processed. Raw is designed for sound designers to go wild with: stretch, distort, compress, and more to your hearts content. The processed section is for designers and content creators on the go. If you’re on a tight deadline, pulling some sounds that are already going to get you close to where you need to be is imperative. These processed versions play very nicely even when not designing ice.

    49 %
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  • Tired of those same old door knobs and hinge squeaks that you hear in every single game, film and TV show? Well, Gateway aims to remedy that issue while providing you with a brand new palette of sounds.

    Gateway comes packed with doors, doors and more doors! Low end, high end, slow horror creaks and squeaks, huge slams and impacts, tiny compartment doors.

    The Gateway family now includes the just-released Gateway Part 3, with more than 1400 new sounds.

    Doors, gates, overhead rollups, cabinets, closets, drawers, garage doors, fireplaces, sheds, you name it!

    Latches and knobs, wrought iron and chain link! Metal, wood, glass and MORE! All of these doors were acoustically captured in the real world. You won’t find anything synthesized here!

    Did we mention doors? Yeah, Gateway has those too.

    Gateway Part 1 features 675 files, 1200+ sounds

    Gateway Part 2 features 365 files, 600+ sounds

    Gateway Part 3 features 772 files, 1400+ sounds

    The Gateway 1-3 Bundle features 1812 files, 3200+ sounds

    Special offer:Do you already have Gateway Part 1 or 2? Send a message here for a special upgrade offer for part 3.

    Choose your preferred version below – or land some great savings by getting all three in one handy package!

  • Mechanical Elements: Gears Play Track 4000+ sounds included, 205 mins total $80

    Elements: Gears is a collection of small and large gear, ratchet, cogwheel and other mechanical sounds recorded and edited over more than 2 years by George Vlad. The library encompasses more than 4000 individual sounds covering actions such as single clicks, slow movement, fast movement, short turns etc. The objects recorded include ratchet tools, plastic toys, old sewing machines, wagon wheels and ethnic noise making instruments. Some of the larger objects have been recorded using MKH 8040, DPA 4060 and a JrF contact microphone with each perspective included on a separate track.

    Elements: Gears 1.1 Update adds more large gear sounds! Check out the accompanying spreadsheet.

    The sounds can be used for obvious purposes such as ratchet wrenches, cogwheels, drawbridges, steampunk mechanisms, machinery etc.. As is the case with other libraries in the Elements series, these sounds can also be used as building blocks for more complex sounds such as spaceships, vehicles, industrial machinery and others. Additionally, all files are recorded and mastered at 24/96 quality which makes them excellent sound design elements ripe for serious processing.

    Elements: Gears at a glance:

    • 212 .wav files; more than 4000 sounds in total
    • recorded and presented as 24 bit/96 kHz mono files
    • 3 hours and 55 minutes total length
    • 3.83 GB uncompressed size – 3.11 GB zip archive
    • recorded on Sound Devices 633 with Sennheiser MKH-8040, DPA 4060 and JrF microphones
    • comprehensive metadata compatible with Basehead and Soundminer

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • From 24/96 Sound Effects. Immersive Crowds in Motion features 58 HD 24 Bit / 96 kHz Surround Sound Effects with a large selection of Interior and Exterior moving crowds. Train stations, conventions, sporting events and more. Recorded with a Voyage Audio 2nd Order Spatial Microphone. Recording locations were centrally located within the crowd for better immersion. Intelligible words have been reduced or removed when possible.

    Mastered with ProTools Ultimate in 3 configurations: Ambisonic (Ambix 2nd Order (Wyzxrstuv), Atmos™ 7.1.2 Surround Sound (LRCLfeLssRssLrsRrsLtsRts) and Stereo (L-R). Most tracks are 2-3 minutes in length with embedded metadata. All-new, original recordings.

    Want a taste of what’s included? Download the O2A and 7.1.2 Surround Demo files here: https://tinyurl.com/ImmersiveCrowdDemo and try it out on your own system!

    10 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580943599
  • SCI-FI GUNNERY is a collection of high-quality futuristic gunshot sound effects.

    It features 330 sounds of anything from big artillery hydraulic guns to small ray blaster and handguns.

    Collection consists of 105 different weapons.
    Every weapon comes with 5-6 variations that have slightly different pitch (+/-0.4 semitones) and time alignment
    (+/- 15ms) for maximum realism.
    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data.

    Download includes:
    96-192KHZ 24BIT version
    44.1KHZ 16BIT MONO version for Unreal Engine
    44.1KHZ 16BIT STEREO version for Unreal Engine

    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH8060 + ATE208 + DPA4060, PCM D100

    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: RX, Pro Tools, Brufri, DMGAudio, Reaktor, Massive, Serum, Monark, Alto, Soundtoys, Live.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580857199
  • Several waterfalls and rivers recorded in the Vosges Mountains in France.
    It tooks place in three different location: Cascade Charlemagne, Pont des Fées, Saut des Cuves.
    For almost every place, several microphones placements were used at close, medium and far distance.
    In addition to the 2 stereo microphone pairs, a hydrophone track is also available to allow you to modulate the low end and to add more movement.

    Gear used:
    Sound Devices 788T
    MKH8020 stereo pair
    MKH8040 stereo pair
    JRF hydrophone
  • Cars Porsche Macan S 3.0 V6 Play Track 200+ sounds included, 354 mins total $150 $130

    The Porsche Macan S 3.0 V6 sound library features 198 high-quality files recorded with a multi-mic setup. The Engine was recorded in sync with interior cabin ambient, and you can expect different styles of driving. From casual city driving, through accelerations on a highway up to rpm ramps and constant rpm loops for game audio.

    In addition to engine recordings, this sound effects library features exterior passes, whooshes and other road-related sounds recorded in mono and stereo on dry asphalt.

    Last but not least, different foley were recorded to cover exterior and interior activities. In addition to designed onboard recordings, there are also premixed stems for the engine, intake and exhaust and RAW files, of each microphone without any post-processing.

    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580597999
  • Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are all around us, they are everywhere and each electronic device produces them. Imagine a whole new world hidden from us. It is time to lift the veil of secrecy and look into it.

    This library contains raw electronic sounds – a perfect source for sci-fi movies, trailers, games, computer interfaces, experimental music or whatever you can think of. The frequency range of these sounds is impressive, it reaches 48 kHz allowing you to effectively manipulate their pitch and spectrum.

    All sounds are sorted into categories, such as: Glitch, Hum, Click, Movement, Distortion, Beep and many others, which makes it easy to navigate and choose not only by the recorded object but by the type of sound it generates. And last, but not least: this library was recorded with high-quality 96KHz/24bit.

    Equipment used:

    • LOM Audio Elektrosluch Mini City
    • Sound Devices MixPre 6

    Main features:

    • 134 raw electronic sounds with variations
    • Perfect source for all kinds of harsh noises, glitches, drones, movements, whooshes, beeps, hum, clicks, buzz, nasty distortions etc
    • Astonishing frequency range up to 48KHz
    • Created for further manipulation with spectrum and pitch
    • Recorded with high quality 96Khz/24bit
    • Categorized by types: Glitch, Hum, Click, Movement, Distortion, Beep and so on
    • Contains metadata for search engines

     

    52 %
    OFF
    Ends 1583017199
 
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