How We Doing

It’s a week and a half into my second term here in the VFS Sound Design for Visual Media program, and shit’s gotten real all over again. I lost a lot of productive time last weekend to the flu and emulation, so I was eager to get back into gear this week with some personal task-tracking on this here backlog. As is common in any kind of SCRUM – even tiny little one-man implementations of it – you’ve got to be honest with yourself (or your team) and post-mortem each sprint, see what went right and wrong, refine your methods going forward. That said, here’s what my last week’s worth of work went like, by the numbers:

The red is me, the blue is the ideal. Yep, definitely didn’t make it. Didn’t even hit the halfway mark! It doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a productive week; actually, I got pretty far ahead with all the assignments we’ve had thrown at us so far and did a ton of plate-clearing. But, none of what I did was what I planned to do.

What Went Right

Or, What I Liked About Using This.

  • Capturing To Dos: It’s a good catch-all bucket for non-school tasks I’ve got and want to keep on my radar. Though, I basically went from zero organization to this, so any improvement’s going to seem like a gigantic improvement
  • Data is Good! Tracking actual hours for a couple of school assignments should be useful going forward, as the workload piles up and I need to plan more
  • Gets Me in the Planning Mindset: It’s helped me break a lot of my bigger picture items into tasks and really think about how long they’d take to do

What Went Wrong

Or, What I Don’t Like About This System So Far.

  • Couldn’t Stick to What I Planned For: School items that pop up are always going to take priority, for me. It’s tough to not want to get cracking on new assignments as SOON as they come in, even to the point of not being able to wait for a week to start a fresh sprint and slot them in properly. It’s not really an attitude I want to beat myself up for, because it just means that I’m very excited about the program, and so the behavior probably won’t change.
  • Not Super Sticky…yet: don’t feel compelled to check it every morning. I updated this thing every day, and I loved being able to jot stuff down as the assignments came in in class, but it doesn’t yet have the hold on me that I think it should if I want to use this system long-term.

Going Forward

For as much as this list isn’t ruling my life the way I want it to, I did update it every day, and I think I stuck to it enough to want to give it another week’s worth of trial time – at the least. I don’t think I’ll change the way I’m planning this week, as having a bunch of mandatory schoolwork out of the way waaaaaaaaaay ahead of time means that I should be able to hit my targets much more easily this week.

If I miss the mark that hard again, I’ll try giving myself the flexibility to move things in and out of the sprint a bit – that changes the rules, but I’ll still be planning, so I’m okay with it. I don’t want to just count schoolwork outside of the weekly estimates and only estimate availability/slot stuff in the remaining hours I’ve got, because then I’ll stop capturing school To Dos, and I like having everything in one place. It’ll make for a nice list of stuff I’ve done by the time this year’s up.

This Week

What actually happened this week? We imported and “mastered” our recordings from this past break – I use the term in quotations because we don’t have access to some of the real-deal noise reduction plug-ins we’ll get access to in the later terms, and so cleaning these sounds and ambiences up for submission feels false; there is still work to be done on the source material and I’ll be revisiting them in a few months for sure. None of them are really worth sharing for right now, but I learned a lot of Don’ts in the process and hope to get some much better (and more targeted) recording results as the year goes on.

We’ve been thrown pretty heavily into BG and Dialogue editing, neither of which are conceptually that crazy compared to what we’ve learned so far.. though the concept of making “fill” (random, ambient noise taken from a mangled and repeated sample of background din in the recordings the crew got on-site, to layer in under re-recorded dialogue overdubs and help them sit in the mix) is pretty amazing.

If there’s a common theme so far this term, it is: Organize or Die. A lot of stress is being put on templating, folder structure and all the really unsexy minutiae of keeping your shit together, and it’s already paying off as the assignments come fast and furious. I can’t wait to see how productive I am in a few months, when it’ll seem like I spent all this time just ham-fistedly grabbing chunks of audio and throwing them around my computer versus staying in control and having everything nice and neat.

There’s an upcoming Game Audio project that I’ve cleared the way for with all my recent work, really excited to show that off when it’s all done. Every new project we receive makes heavy use of the previous stuff, which keeps everything fresh in your brain all at once. Though, I wonder how much of it is the program and how much is just my own desperate drive to make this career change really work. It doesn’t matter.

On a personal note, I picked up a couple of pieces from IKEA, and my room no longer looks like a homeless person’s squatting in it – so that should clear my mind up a bit and let me move some of the music-making home. I need to get back into it; Alleycat was a month ago already, holy shit! Where’s the time going? And I find that the longer I spend away from making music, the more afraid I become that I don’t have it in me to do it. It’s bullshit, so I need to push through that this week.

Played goalkeeper in the rain for our adult casual soccer league tonight, let two through but stopped many more.

I have so, so much recommended music to get through!

One Comment

Mary Lou Fusi March 4, 2011 Reply

I’m lovin it!

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