The Compressed Interview #15: Leonard Paul

For this edition in #TheCompressedInterview, I had the opportunity to ask Leonard Paul, Director of the School of Video Game Audio, about his career in Game Audio. I am really thankful for Leonard’s experience and courses since at the moment I am taking the Fmod Studio course, and I have also learned about Wwise and in the following months I’ll taking the other courses and add-ons and that’s why I thought that Leonard could give a great insight about game audio.

Leonard attained his Master’s Degree in Game Audio with CNAM in Paris, France in 2017. He received his Honours degree in Computer Science at Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada with an Extended Minor in Music concentrating in Electroacoustics. His credits include composing, sound design and coding for video games on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Electronic Arts, Backbone Entertainment, Radical Entertainment, Modern Groove entertainment, Rockstar Vancouver and Black Box Games. He has worked on over twenty major game titles totalling over 6.4 million units sold since 1994, including award-winning AAA titles such as EA’s NBA Jam, NHL11, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, NBA Live ’95 as well as the indie award-winning title Retro City Rampage.

This is what Leonard told me:

Threshold: Getting Started
J: What skills (either technical or personal) do you think that anyone starting in this industry needs?

L: I find that the skills that are good for starting out in game audio are a real balance. I think it’s good to be creative but also technical, attention to detail is important but also knowing how to not be overwhelmed by too many details, and I think it’s important to really connect with people that you’re collaborating with since working on games is highly collaborative.

Attack: Things to discuss
J: What’s the biggest challenge you have encountered, professionally speaking, and how did you get around it?

L: I think that there’s unfortunately a real imbalance in the type of people creating games. Part of the reason I started the school (SoVGA.com) was to empower a more diverse range of people to work in game audio. I’m not sure this is an issue that can be resolved but organizations like the Game Audio Diversity Alliance will also help to improve things as well.

It’ll probably take a while for the power balance to shift but with more independent games, artistic games, and with more diverse teams a wider range of games will be made. Game jams, platforms like Itch.io, and other new venues will help more styles of games to be made. There’s a lot of competition so different communities will also help to support different types of games that reflect them more directly.

Overall, I think that helping others enter the industry and supporting them while they deal with the struggles of the industry will help change things over time.

 

Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What’s the next step in your career? Any project you are working on?

L: I’m currently working on a really fun game about the environment and how to balance progress with the economy called Eco. I hope to continue to work on games that promote positive change in our world, and I think games like this will continue to grow in the future.

Ratio
J:   Can you let us know a little about your creative process?

L: One of the key parts of my creative process that I’m currently working on is to be more compassionate to myself and accept my limitations. I think it’s always good to challenge yourself, but it can be tiring if you set your goals too high. As I continue in the industry, I think it’s good to look within yourself to see what is unique about yourself and how you can share that with other people in an inspiring way.

The Gain
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?

L: I think it’s good to be inspired by other people but also know that we’re all just people trying to improve in our own ways. I’ve found that some of my professional role models really sacrificed other parts of their life for their work and I’m happy with how I’ve chosen to balance my personal life and professional career. It’s good to work hard but also have fun and make real friends along the way. The connections that we make are much more meaningful than any game.

Hope you enjoyed this “compressed” but powerful interview as much as I did.

If you want to know more about Leonard, you can visit his website, find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and check more about The School of Video Game Audio.

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