Welcome to the first Compressed Interview!
In The Compressed Interview, I will ask different sound professionals to choose between a series of questions and only one will be answered in each section. This way, each interview will be entirely different to explore the sound industry from different views.
I am really lucky to launch these interviews with an honor guest, Gina Zdanowicz. Gina is an Emmy Nominated Composer and Sound Designer who has been creating original music and sound for video games, film, TV and advertising for over 15 years. I am proud to say that Gina has been my mentor for a couple of years and that I really admire her work and I can talk from the experience when I say that she enjoys sharing her knowledge in order to help other people succeed.
This is what Gina shared with me:
Threshold: Getting Started
J: How did you get started in audio? What was your first job and how did you get it?
G: After graduating Berklee College of Music, I worked on some short advertisements and student films with my brother. To pay the bills I took a job with a software company who developed audio and video systems for Radio and Television. I continued to look for ways to break into games. Finally, I met and built a friendship with Julie Chase, she was a graphic artist at an advergaming company. She got me a gig writing music for two Nintendo DS games. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was doing. I hadn’t had any instruction on creating music that was functional in gameplay. It was a great start though. From there I landed a jr sound design position with a game company in NYC and that started my career rolling.
Attack: Things to discuss
J: How did you know this was the industry that you wanted to work in?
G: I was lucky enough to realize at a young age. I always tinkered with musical instruments, technology and played lots of video games. My parents would find me taking the electric outlets apart to examine beyond the face plate. In High School I asked for a synthesizer, my mom took me to a music store, and we came home with my first synth. I have to thank my parents for being so supportive. They didn’t know what a career in sound would mean for me, but they enrolled me in various classes and when it was time to choose a college, I had my heart set on Berklee. During my time at Berklee there weren’t any game audio focused classes, so I studied sound for linear media and synthesis which I later applied that base knowledge to game sound.
Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What’s the most memorable moment in your career so far?
G: There are many memorable moments, from the people I have met and worked with to the amazing projects I have been a part of. I am really grateful to have realized my passion and to be fortunate to live that dream.
J: What plug-ins and technology you can’t live without and why?
G: I get this question a lot, I don’t believe it’s all about the software or technology you use. Working with that you have and really learning the ins and outs of it will give you the ability to create great sound. With that said, there are some pieces of technology that makes the workflow more interesting or simple.
Plugins: Sound Toys and U-he Ubhik these are my go-to in creating interesting elements out of my source material as I work to layer them into my design. Adding movement to layers or completely manipulating them to uniquely fit the projects is really what I am looking for with plugins.
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?
G: Be humble. That’s the big lesson and this can be applied to things like writing social media posts to knowing when you need to bring others on for support. Accepting feedback gracefully and helping others succeed are also important traits.
Also, if you want to learn more about game audio, check Gina’s book: The Game Audio Strategy Guide: A Practical Course, which she wrote with Spencer Bambrick.
I hope you liked this post and wait for my next guest in a couple of weeks.