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Portfolio build & tips: Audio

Are you an audio apprentice just entering the industry, or a Level 99 sound veteran looking for the next stop on your adventure? No matter where you’re at in your career, the team at Ubisoft Singapore wants YOU to be part of our epic voyage! In this new Portfolio Tips series, we chat with Jose Cua Paz II (Associate Audio Director) for tips and tricks on building that winning application. He even shares some samples of successful portfolio clips – don't miss this treasure trove of good advice!

Tell us about yourself and what you do at Ubisoft Singapore

Hello! I’m Jose Cua Paz II, an Associate Audio Director at the Singapore studio. I go by the name of Beej in the industry. I’ve been with Ubisoft Singapore since 2009 and came onboard as the first sound designer back when the studio only had 30 people! Prior to joining Ubisoft Singapore, I’ve was working on audio-postproduction in the TV and Advertising industry for about 5 years. Today, I’m working on audio management and the team has grown to 16 members in different projects. We’re proud to say that we’re now doing global collaborations and producing world class sound.

The audio team, culture and how the team works

The team has a unique culture that’s well known in the studio – to turn negative to positives! We encourage our team members to go the extra mile and stumble as much as they can. Mistakes are a part of learning, and we believe that happy accidents can teach you a lot. All of the team’s glory is shared horizontally. We’d like to believe that our team is only as good as the most junior member, no one gets left behind.

As video game audio designers, everyone is encouraged to wear their gamer hats to work. Having fun is mandatory! To come up with good sound design for our games, you’ll need to know and feel what the players want to hear. It’s only through constant learnings that you’ll have perfect sound implementation. We’re all very respectful of one another, we emphasize individual strengths while helping each other to grow.

What do you look for in a talent?

Passion. Without passion nothing great can be achieved. It’s the one thing that will fuel you through this journey. Passion is also succeeded by willpower. It’s a 1-2 combo! When interviewing candidates, the very first thing we want to find out is how much passion they have in videogames and sound. What games do they play? What sounds do they like? We want to get to know them, their interests and how they enjoy a video game. As sound designers, we live to listen and appreciate everything audio – be it game, movies, or trends. That’s how we grow.

Are there any specific soft or hard skills a talent should possess?

Creativity, teamwork, and focus – in the order of importance. Sound designers are the biggest story tellers and magicians, not everything is what it seems! We could use a frying sound as a rain sound effect or even a cute baby seal to voice an evil monster. A creative sound designer will always think out of the box to spontaneously experiment with different SFX and techniques. Sprinkle in great teamwork and focus, you’ll get a polished diamond.

For talents aspiring to be in the game audio industry, it’s mandatory to be well versed with audio engineering tools, software, and industry standard Digital Audio Workstations (Protools, Reaper, Cubase, Nuendo). These will be your best friends on your journey into videogame sound design. Studio and signal flow knowledge is also a plus as the team spends a lot of time recording outdoors. Lastly, the most beneficial hard skill to hold is proficiency in Wwise – the industry standard audio engine and a must-know.

Building up your portfolio for audio

Tip 1: Compile a 2–3-minute demo reel of your past works.

Less can be more, having a short and impactful reel can really all you need. Your demo reel should contain your best sound design work in the first 30 seconds of the clip. An impactful reel will also be more memorable and easy to point out, “Oh yeah he’s the guy that likes JRPG sounds!” or “Her car commercial audio work was really great!”. Here’s a great example.

Tip 2: Aside from past works, try creating your own version of sound design on existing video game clips.

There are tons of aspiring sound designers doing this on the internet with their fresh takes on actual CGI trailers, cinematic/animatics or gameplay. This can be a powerful demo that showcases your ability to spot and design SFX and is an indication of your basic sound-to-picture instincts and mixing style. Have a look at this sample!

Tip 3: Be yourself and be honest.

Show your most authentic self, we’d love to get to know you for who you are as a sound designer and a potential colleague! Share with us your passion, experiences, and desire to learn. If you’re selected for an interview, we’ll want to discuss how you approached certain parts of our tests and why. Be confident and humble and share with us your ambitions.

I encourage our audio designers to live their lives to the fullest - you’ll get all sorts of inspiration from living life with your own definition of fun. You can consider these questions: Are you pumped to create a meaningful and immersive experience for players? Excited to blow people’s minds with audio magic? If the answers are yes, then we want you to share your passion with us.


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