Audio Lead

  • Audio Lead

Every piece of audio embedded in a game passes through the hands of the audio lead. This person is responsible for compiling and designing sound effects, background score, and other audio assets that create a rich, fully immersive experience for the player.


Duties

Under the supervision of the creative director, the audio lead hires and oversees a staff of artists and engineers whose job it is to create and implement all of the music and sound in a video game. The process begins with several discovery meetings with the game designers to map out necessary audio assets for each level, boss battle, cinematic cut scene, or other player experience. The collection and creation of sound effects is a massive undertaking and the bulk of the job; this requires the creation of unique audio for machine-gun fire, screeching car tires, and any other action that produces noise. He or she is supported by the audio staff, who may be delegated certain game levels or certain types of audio to collect.

The audio lead will also participate in casting voice-over talent and recording sessions, and work closely with the game’s composer to develop an original score that supports the theme and mood of each level or scene. In most cases, the audio lead is not required to write music. Where existing material is licensed for inclusion in the game—like Guitar Hero or Rock Band—this person will collaborate with the creative director and designers to select appropriate songs.  Ultimately it is the audio lead’s responsibility to direct the implementation of all sound assets in the engine and work with audio programmers to ensure the highest quality audio is reproduced in the game.

Skills & Education

This position requires a highly skilled individual who is both musically inclined and knowledgeable about audio recording and manipulation. A college degree in recording arts, game design, film and television production, or a related field is recommended. It is also beneficial to take courses in music theory and composition. It is not required that you play an instrument or write music, but those talents are helpful. What is necessary is that you have the ability to clearly communicate the vision and needs of the game to the audio staff and composer in order to inspire them to create the sound effects, score, and music beds that enhance the gameplay experience. A firm grasp of mixing and editing on audio software like Pro Tools and Wwise is required, and experience creating Foley sound is beneficial. This role does not usually require coding, but some knowledge of C/C++ or other scripting language couldn’t hurt. It helps when you can speak the programmer’s native tongue.

What to Expect

This is a senior-level position and requires at least five years of experience in video game development or in film and television audio design; major studios may demand 10 years of relevant work history. As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to keep your team on task and on time. It’s not enough to deliver quality assets; you must keep to the schedule. You performance is judged on not only your creative contribution, but also your ability to manage your team and meet expectations for efficiency. To advance to this position, you should first hone your skills as an audio programmer, recording engineer, or sound effects designer. Work in motion pictures is an excellent training ground in addition to experience within game development studios.

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