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Game Sound Design Strategies

GSD Strategies

Check out the strategies when you are feeling creatively uninspired. Each random strategy will present you with a new avenue to pursue. Give them a try!

Game Sound Design Glossary

GSD Glossary

Our game audio glossary has all the sound terms you have been wondering about. Game audio can be confusing enough without having to deal with a new technical language. We are constantly updating the database with new terms that relate to not only game audio but game developer terms as well.

Seven Easy Steps To Backing Up Your Data

Article by George Spanos

What is one of the most important things a sound designer can do to protect their work? Backing up. Seems simple doesn't it? And it is, but often people forget to do it or simply don't know how to get in the habit of backing up regularly.

Why Backing Up Is So Important

The question of why backing up your data is important should be a really easy question to answer. You should perform regular backups because you work hard on creating your sound design...

You put many long hours of experimentation, creativity, and pride in your work, so ensuring you have at least one backup is mandatory. After all, you wouldn't want to lose that session that took you 10 hours to complete would you?

Here is a great example of why you need a backup. I was working for a music production company a number of years ago. A client called us up and wanted to revise an old television spot that we had worked on for them. It was a big job for us and we had put a lot of work into it. We had created custom sound design, wrote a custom music track, and spent a number of hours recording a voice over. The client had obviously spent a considerable amount of time and money producing the television commercial and had come to us for a professional service.


Generally, when we finished a job for clients we would back everything up for them. Session files, video files, sound effects, music, voice overs, stems, and any other ancillary data. After about six months we would send the backup to the client so that they could archive it for any possible future use. We figured that after about six months, revisions would be unlikely and that it is in the client's best interest to receive and store their backup.

Well, after about three years the client called us up and wanted to revise the spot. All they needed to do was record a couple of new lines of voice over to update the commercial. We looked through our archives and noticed that we had sent the backup of the spot to them. They searched their archives. And could not find it. This was not good. We didn't have access to the original session with all the alternate takes, and more importantly didn't have access to the stems from which we could conceivably piece it back together.

We spent a few panicked minutes thinking of what we could do. Ultimately it was the client's responsibility to safely store their materials for possible future use... but they were a big client of ours and it would be great for us to come through for them. So we thought about what we could do. And thought. And thought some more. We could re-write the music... we could re-record the voice over... we could re-do the sound design. But this would definitely be labor intensive and would take a lot of time.

Suddenly we remembered that we had started to do backups of backups of client projects before sending them to the client for archiving. Maybe this backup was on one of the redundant backup drives in our storage? We quickly raced over to the old drives and started looking through the spreadsheets that documented what was on each drive. We m anaged to find it. The whole session with stems and all. What a relief, we saved the day.

This is just one example of when a backup could mean saving your work and more importantly, saving your ass.

Seven Easy Ways To Backup

Backing up your valuable data is simple and easy if you set up a routine. Here are some tips that will help you to backup:

1. Find a suitable drive. Invest in a hard drive that is a bigger capacity than what you think you currently need. These days, storage is pretty cheap and hard drive prices per gigabyte have come down drastically. You can typically find hard drives for around $0.14 per gigabyte or less. Pretty inexpensive. While you are at it, you might want to think about backing up to two external hard drives, incase the unthinkable happens.

2. Make sure your backup drive is external. This is a big one. Make sure you backup to an external drive that you can store in a safe place away from your computer. Not only will this protect it from potential data corruption, but if your computer system is ever stolen or otherwise destroyed, hopefully your backup will be retrievable in a safe place.

3. If you can backup to CD-R or DVD-R or Blu-Ray then do it. These discs offer a big advantage to hard drives in that each session is stored individually and separately. Hard drives can become corrupt or otherwised damaged and can take multiple sessions along with them when they crash. At least with individual disc storage if one becomes corrupt you will lose only what is on that disc, and not hundreds of other sessions.

4. Set a weekly or better yet, daily backup schedule. It really all depends on how much work you complete on a day to day basis. Backup according to your workflow. When working on a really big project, backup more often. Set up a reminder in your email application. Most email clients feature a calendar function and you can use this to set up daily or weekly reminders that will alert you when it is time to backup.

5. For the truly hardcore, invest in backup software. There are many applications out there that can automate the process for you. I'm willing to bet there are also some free apps that you can find to make your life easier.

6. Consider staggering your backups. If you are backing up to two or more systems, then don't back up both of them at the same time. Instead, backup one then the next time you are backing up the data, backup to the second backup. This will help if there ever is a data corruption problem on your main drive which gets carried over to the first backup drive. You will have another backup drive that won't be corrupt because it was backed up before (hopefully) the corruption took place.

7. Store one of your backups offsite. This is really only ideal when completing a project and archiving it. Storing the backup offsite will save you if there should be any damage to your studio from flooding, earthquake, fire, or theft. Even storing your archive at home can help with this. The key is to have two archives in two different physical addresses for maximum protection.

Hopefully all of this doesn't sound too paranoid. But I'm of the mind that "better to be safe than sorry". And "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". And ... well, you get the idea. Now go backup!

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