We talked to Saro, SAE Institute Stuttgart graduate and founder of the company SoundBits, about his career, sounddesign, challenges in his job, the SAE Institute and we asked him for some tips for our current and future students.
Short career overview
My interest in audio- and music production came up back in the year 2000. I made the first tentative steps, tried this and that. I got deeper and deeper into audio production, did a lot of mistakes, good mistakes. I spent all my money on new (and constantly changing) audio equipment. The drivers license had to wait. 🙂
In 2003 already I made the decision to work professionally in this field. After I successfully graduated from 2 (!) degrees (Creative Media Diploma (2004) and Audio Engineering Diploma (2006)) at SAE Institute in Stuttgart I started there as a Supervisor in the first place. At the same time I did several mixing- and live-jobs and several productions with the band ‘Reimstoff’ (later ‘RTR TecRap’) and others. In 2009 I started to do my first lectures. In the beginning I did the ‘Short Courses. I gave lessons in ‘Electronic Music Produciton’ and ‘Home Studio Recording’. Later followed by several diploma-level topics (Audio-Production Basics, Midi, Sequencing (Cubase, Logic, Live, Studio One), DAW (Pro Tools), Post Production (Nuendo, Pro Tools), effects, synthesizer, sampling). I am still teaching some of these today. At the same time I extended my studio and gear and never stopped learning.
Pictures and video by Tobias Mochel, find him on facebook: Ohokay
What lead you to specializing in creating your own sound effects?
From the very beginning i was very interested in wicked and cool sounds. Even in music production. For me it’s always been more Sound Design than just composing or mixing. I mostly got bored by natural instruments, unless they were abused in any way. 🙂 Just recording and mixing music from others bores me the most. Especially the sonic aesthetics of SciFi- and Fantasy-Movies got me from the very first. Mainly weapons, impacts, explosions, trailer-sounds and whooshes always had my attention. As soon as I had created my first soundscapes for some clips it sucked me more and more into Sound Design/ -Editing because one can perfectly live out creativity very good with that. But also rescueing bad Production Sound and Audio-Restauration is a pleasure for me.
It all got seriously in 2010 when I did the whole soundscape (except music) for the feature movie “Bela Kiss: Prologue”. I met such great and inspiring people in that time. One day I had the idea to not just gather sounds randomly for certain projects but to create my own specific sound effects library. This first library was the ‘Screams & Shouts’ sound pack. Many former SAE students were involved In this project with their voices 🙂 Due to the fact that I already was in touch with Sound Ideas (Canada) and Samplephonics (UK) for SAE Deals I just sent them the ‘Screams & Shouts’ sound library when it was finished and they liked it very much which brought me my first good non-exclusive deal. This motivated me to continue on the path of a ‘Sound Librarian’. Bit by bit my product line grew to now over 50 sound effect libraries. These are sold partly exclusive but mostly non-exclusively through my own web-shop (www.soundbits.de/shop) and several international distributors (like A Sound Effect, Pro Sound Effects or Sonniss, …)
What’s the most fun part of your work?
Actually I love everything about my work but it essential is the variety of actions and tasks that make it so interesting. It’s not just ‘Sound Design’ It’s recording at often very interesting and odd places, which is often done guerilla-style. It’s all the different people that I meet and my professional, international network that follows out of that. Collaborating with different companies and distributors, teaching, giving workshops, location sound, audio restoration and of course sound editing and -design for all kinds of image clips and movies, music production and -mixing. And in the end creating Sound Effect libraries that are purchased by sound designers, studios and larger film- and game-companies from all over the world.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The time-management and coordinating all those different tasks. The technical part, creativity and self-motivation is no problem. Editing thousands of sounds feels like playing a video game (sometimes it’s a hard one :)). I also like learning new tools, software and workflows. I always try to optimize all my processes. The only thing that really sucks is inserting and editing metadata for the created sound effects 😀
What was the most difficult or strangest sound to make/handle?
Well, to make up an answer to that question is probably harder than the creation of any sound effect in my whole career 🙂 It’s always very different. It could be that it’s very hard to find or create a sound for something that is hyper-realistic. But it can also be exactly the opposite ’cause there’s no reference for this particular sound yet. On the other hand there are realistic events or things that turn out to be very hard to find a appropriate sound for ’cause one does not have the exact sound in a library or the real sound does not sound alike it when it’s synced to picture. With experience also the possibilities grow to give anything the fitting sonic treatment.
For whom or what did you create sounds already?
Anything and everything. From very simple image-clips through short-films and movies to commission work for other sound designers from all over the world…and my own sound effect libraries of course. I don’t know exactly where or how the sounds are used, that I create. My main clients come from UK, Japan, USA (e.g. Warner Bros and Blizzard, name just two well known). But also many sound designers from Europe and the rest of the world with great portfolios are buying my sound packs regularly. Unfortunately I do not get an insight in the customer databases of my other distributors.
Did you specialize in a particular kind of sound or are you open for any sound-request?
SoundBits is best known for impact-, transition- and whoosh sound effects. But on principle one can contact me with any sound-request. From a ‘simple’ Forest-Ambience to complex, designed sounds. Something which would be harder to create are firearms, I mean, here in Germany you can’t just grab a machine gun or grenades and fire it in your backyard. That’s something for the sound-guys in the USA (e.g. Frank Bry, Watson Wu or Chuck Russom). Though, my German colleagues from ‘Boom Library’ and ‘Tonsturm’ did some great gun and explosion recordings.
What do you most appreciate about the SAE Institute (both as a teacher/employee and as a a student)?
This definitely is the practical hands-on studying. If I would start another course these days I would spend all time available on all those workstations, high-end studios or in the field with all the provided equipment. I would suck up all the knowledge – over all departments. I did that too back then as a student by I realized the possibilities quite late. That is exactly what I try to preserve today’s students from. Many of them struggle hard to recognize the potential of self-motivated practical studying. So they often only show up for the compulsory lectures and tests. But those who recognize the possibilities, who take advantage of all the knowledge and skills of the SAE staff and teachers and who spend a lot of time working with the provided equipment and do projects, those students will graduate as top nobs. In the end nobody asks for your school grade BUT for your skills and portfolio and that is exactly what you forge when studying at SAE Institute.
Do you have any suggestions for current Audio students?
Oh, of course:
Love your job, always stay hungry for more and never stop learning
Master and know your tools
Have another string to your bow
Build up a network and use Social Media
Don’t be afraid of the New. Say ‘Yes’ more often than ‘No’
…but don’t get exploited
There ain’t no 9-to-5
Think far outside the box and take a look at the other departments
Buy SoundBits | Sound FX 🙂