From the Trenches: Spec Work

From the Trenches is a series of posts sharing true life experiences and stories from within the fun and exciting (although sometimes crazy and convoluted) world of sound design.

And we’ll start with some unsolicited advice:  If you can avoid it, don’t work on spec.

I get it. When you’re first starting out in any job, it’s truly hard to get your foot in the door. It’s the classic Catch-22 of needing to know a skill to work in a field where you can only learn that skill by working in that field. A large majority of people then chose to work for free (or peanuts) in order to gain the necessary experience. All I’m saying is, if you can avoid this route, please do. And if you absolutely must work ‘on spec,’ keep the projects small and don’t do it for too long.

That said, once you’ve been working for a while in this industry, it can be pretty common practice to do a ‘test’ on a LARGE project before it will come to your door. In my case, I’m specifically referring to projects on the series level of television. If a production is going to drop 26+ episodes of television work on your doorstep, wanting a small taste of what you can do for them is completely understandable.

The Backstory:

A few years back I was asked to create some spec sound design in hopes of attracting an animated series about a kid who can turn his body into all kinds of machines and weapons (as a courtesy, I’m not going to mention the specific show. But you’re smart. You’ll probably have enough clues to figure it out). Long story short, we didn’t get the show. There are a number of reasons why any given television series can chose to go to any given studio.

The point is, besides the handful of people that got this batch of test sounds in their email, these sounds never saw the light of day. They are highly specialized so reusing is probably not much of an option. Thus, I’m posting them here for you to check out. If nothing else, it should be (slightly?) interesting to hear an entirely realized set of sounds created without any images or references.

The direction:

Organic matter gives way to metallic contructs. Think: trees creaks and liquid bubbling to create high tech metal machinery. Also… we need big footsteps. And servos.

The product:

“Organic Robot Transformation 1”
iPhone or iPad? click here

“Organic Robot Transformation 2”
iPhone or iPad? click here

“Organic Robot Servos”
iPhone or iPad? click here

“Organic Robot Walk Cycle”
iPhone or iPad? click here

As always, thanks for listening for what sounds like Jeff.

This week’s image comes from the futuristicky.

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