Chia Chin Lee
Sound Designer/Composer, Valve
I'm responsible for conceiving and providing audio direction/content for
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Degree: BA, Communication Arts/Film
Were there any particular projects or areas of study that you pursued?
Like most people, I switched majors about 5 times
Comp Sci, English
Lit, Business, Sociology, and finally Film. I focused on film, because
it was a good springboard for a variety of my interests. During my film
theory classes, I became fascinated with sound design. I respected the
work of Walter Murch in particular. David Lynch's film, Eraserhead, also
"spoke" to me. I've heard those hollow drones in my head before
I saw the film! The idea of emotional sounds, with external aural reality
reflecting internal conditions, really hit home. In addition to film sound,
I also started getting into musique conrete/tape loop manipulation. My
perception of music and sound design started blending into one.
Did you do any
I spent a summer at an audio sweetening postproduction house for commercials.
Tell us about
your first job in the industry. How did you get the job? What was it like?
What were your responsibilities?
In college, I networked like crazy, helping out local filmmakers, flying
out to LA to visit postproduction houses, and contacted UW graduates who
were working in media. I met a student filmmaker, Scott Rice, who was
working on his thesis film. I helped him out with audio. We enjoyed working
together and kept in touch. Right after I graduated, I got a phone call
from Scott, who had become the Art Director at Raven Software. At that
time, Raven was in the middle of 3 projects (Hexen 2, Take No Prisoners,
and Mageslayer), with an audio staff of one (who doubled as the Creative
Director for one of the projects). Scott asked me to interview for a position
at Raven. I've always been an avid gamer, so I took the job. Immediately,
I experienced severe crunch mode
Nothing like sink or swim to make
you learn fast!
What jobs have
you held in the games industry thus far? Briefly describe the career path
you took to get where you are today.
Valve Software is my second job in the game industry. I worked at Raven
for about 3 years before moving to Seattle.
of study, specific courses, or life experiences would you recommend to
students interested in your field?
Look beyond games and audio
A big part of creativity is being able
to draw connections between seemingly disjointed subjects. The more subjects
you have to draw from, the more imaginative you will become.
Is there anything
you wish someone had told you before you got into the games industry?
Is there anything you would have done differently?
When I was getting into the game industry, I was fortunate enough to connect
with an experienced sound designer who patiently answered my questions
about the profession. My advice is to find a mentor who will guide you.
As games increase
in complexity, what are the various kinds of jobs that you foresee development
companies needing in the next five years?
As games increase in complexity, specialization will occur in all areas
Do you have
any other advice or recommendations to share with students who are interested
in doing what you do?
There isn't a set career path to any jobs in the game industry. Make your
own path, and have fun with it!