Organize, Organize, Organize for Better Sound Design
So you get the phone call and MondoGameCo wants you to bid on their new project. Problem is MondoGameCo is kind of new to the whole outsourcing thing and they not only don’t have an asset list and brief for you but they also use their own internal tech speak to describe to you what they need. How do you turn that meeting into a coordinated and concise estimate?
Easy. Listen, take notes and ask questions. Can MondoGameCo show you a working version? If so, have them walk you through it and every time they use their internal language to describe an event ask them to explain the meaning in laymen’s terms (it won’t take long before you are speaking their language).
Next thing we do is develop an asset list with the client. Time to break out the spreadsheet and get busy. We recommend Numbers which is part of Apple’s iWork package. It can open and save as Excel spreadsheets, it’s WAY easier to use and it’s so much cheaper it’s criminal (when I wrote this, MS Office Home 2010 was $125 for a single license on Amazon, iWork was $33, you do the math). We start with 3 or 4 columns, we’re going to refine this later anyhow. As we’re going through the game we ask questions about the action and make suggestions as to the effective use of sounds. Everything gets put on the spreadsheet which we use like an outline: column A is the title of the sound, column B is the description and column C is where we put our notes about that sound. It’s really quite simple and once you’ve taken the time to build this initial spreadsheet the rest of the organization is a piece of cake. Use this initial asset list to create your estimate and do a “save as” once your numbers are in.
If you need to track the progress of the job across all designers, just create a column for each designer and have them update at a specified time. Keep your client updated by creating a version for them that you can email over once a week.
See, spreadsheets aren’t just the territory of accountants and lawyers, they can be a handy tool for us creative types too. Just leave the tie at home.