Seattle Recording Arts Graduate Aileen Paron shares her experience working on Tinker
We are thrilled to share that SRA graduate Aileen Paron (Audio Engineering and Sound Design for Video Games) has been working on an exciting new project: Tinker, a live bespoke virtual reality (VR) theater experience with a worldwide premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (starting January 28, 2021).
Over five years ago, Director Lou Ward made an animated 2D film about his grandfather developing Alzheimer’s disease. Soon after, Ward adapted the film into an immersive VR experience featuring live improvisational performances, so audience members could quite literally step into the story and make it their own.
Interview With Aileen
We were able to chat with Aileen about her work on Tinker, and other cool things she’s been up to in music and sound design.
SRA: How did you get involved with Tinker?
AP: After SRA, I started going to game audio meetups and just talking to people. I’m pretty introverted, so I got lucky in that, at the time, there was a group that was meeting to play board games, which was an easier entry point. At one of those, I got to talking to director Lou Ward about my background in theatre, which was his background as well. A few months later, I got an email out of the blue asking if I’d be interested in working on this project. I was intrigued by the unique idea behind it, and the passion of the creator. Working with people who really have a message and a passion for that message is a big draw for me.
SRA: What was your role on this project, and what was your creative process like?
AP: I ended up in a lot of roles for this project. I initially was just creating sound assets for objects the user would interact with in the space, along with ambiences for the different scenes. For sound design elements, I did a lot of foley recording as well as grabbing assets from sound libraries. Voice Over (VO) work ended up being a big part of the project as well, so that was another big task to tackle, and I’m glad I have a lot of experience comping vocal performances for myself and others because that really came in handy! Everyone was recording separately due to COVID, so I had to craft those performances and do a lot of processing/clean up. I even stepped in and performed some VO myself! The most random fun creative thing I worked on was creating startup motifs for the computer you see in each scene. Since the experience moves the user through time, I created Windows-type OS motifs that change as you move through the years, as one marker of time changing. For me, it’s the simple creative things that feel really satisfying.
SRA: What other projects have you been working on recently?
AP: I’m kind of bouncing between projects right now. I’ve recently released new music on my own and in collaboration with others, and one of my bands, These People Here, is putting the finishing touches on a release for this Spring. The next gig I’ve got in the works is a meditation app, which I’ll be composing for, I’m pretty excited about that.
SRA: Is there any advice you would give to future SRA students
AP: It’s kind of contradictory advice in a way, but you need to be able to wear a lot of hats and yet also have a good grasp on what makes you unique, on what you are particularly passionate about and good at. If you’re working with indie developers, you’re going to need to have a diverse set of skills. As you grow and move up in the industry, you can become more of a specialist. When you’re getting out there, show people what you’re about as a whole person, you may just land a job by connecting over something that has nothing to do with game audio!