Creator Series: Vivace!
Quick chat on confidence and staying creative with FreCre’s sound designer, Mark
Staying true to our love for experiments, the team started applying the Pomodoro technique to our work schedule two months ago as an attempt to improve everyone’s ability to focus. This meant minimizing distractions and focusing on one task for 45 minutes, then getting the next 15 to do whatever we want, every hour, everyday. You can guess that our monkey brains panicked the first few weeks. But over time, the experiment proved helpful to productivity, and we’ve learned to cherish our short breaks to stretch, take a walk, scour around the pantry for snacks, or simply space out and decompress.
Mark likes to spend his 15 minutes differently – when he’s not immersed in the many mobile games he plays, he would be leaning back on the yellow soft chair beside his workstation, playing familiar melodies on his guitar, oftentimes getting an office sing-along started. In fact, he’s getting a few laughs from pretending to host a bar acoustic night as we’re writing this.
If you’ve given English Story a try, the cheerful BGM that pulls you into an imaginary adventure to old Japan was Mark’s first project as a sound designer in FreCre. Since then, he has wowed the team with more of his talent, especially with the work he has done for our spaced-theme game, Word Cosmos.
Mark is in his mid-20’s, full of curiosity, and lucky to do what he loves. We caught up with him one afternoon to get to know him and learn a few tricks of the trade. Read on as he shares his experience with trusting the rhythm of life and staying inspired.
• What role did music play in your younger years?
I’ve been in different kinds of bands since high school. I still play in a few now. Engaging in bands was how learned I to play various instruments, polish my skills, and pick up playing techniques.
• Did you always know you were going to go for a career in music?
Nope. Music was just a hobby to me until I joined a publishing company as a music publicist. The job was more involved with marketing then but it gave me an idea of pursuing a career in music.
• How did you find FreCre?
A girl named LiNa from JobStreet emailed me about the job opening.
Did we mention Mark’s humor is as dry as Cebu in the summer? Now you know.
• Did you already have any background in sound design then?
Applying for the job was a leap of faith for me. I took the technical exam and they liked my samples. Next thing I knew, I was hired to create music and sounds for a game!
• How did it feel taking on something you had barely any experience with?
I was scared of everyone’s expectations from me. I was progressing slowly when I created my first BGM for English Story. But Gong-san and the rest of the team were very patient with my pace.
• What new stuff did you have to learn?
A lot! From using Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), composing, reviewing music theory, mixing, mastering, to navigating Unity. I still have a lot to learn until now, especially in the technical aspect of sound design.
• Where did you draw inspiration for your first English Story BGM?
Honestly? Puppies. Puppies equal cute. So I thought: what kind of instruments and beats do puppies remind me of? It was a one shot attempt! I’m so glad the team liked it.
• What went on in your head when you were conceptualizing Word Cosmos with the team?
We planned Word Cosmos to have a very different theme from English Story. I was still really new to sound designing, so it was a challenge designing for something that was still a concept. I remember being excited to experiment on many things when we decided on the space theme.
• Did you want to achieve a certain sound for Word Cosmos?
Stick to cute and make players feel that they’re really in space.
• How do you process the character designs and bring them to life?
I start by imagining them move in bleeps. If that doesn’t give me any ideas, I resort to voice acting or sampling. I record all the elements I need, then arrange and layer them to make the sound and animations in sync.
• How was creating music for Word Cosmos different from other sound design jobs you have?
This was the first time I had to design sound from scratch. I had to rely more on synthesisers and perform more arpreggios in building core music. I just used traditional instruments for English Story and tend to stick to them for other tracks.
• Okay, good uncle time! Do you have any advice for people starting out in sound design?
Always strive to learn more, and learn to accept criticism. It will help you improve a lot! Be observant on how a song was created and try to recreate techniques. Being curious helps a lot if you’re starting.
• How do you constantly improve?
There are a lot of resources online. I usually watch video tutorials to study. I also rewatch topics I’ve already studied because I sometimes find something new to learn from revisiting existing knowledge.
• Lastly, any advice on taking inspiration and executing?
Listen to various artists and genres, and practice. If you really love music, you’ll always be inspired in a sound design career.
This Creator Series will continue to feature our members and their insights on life and work. In the future, we hope to grow this series into a fun collection of interviews with creatives from different backgrounds.
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