Sound Design and Portfolios

Being a tech theatre major I have learned there are two main things that you need.  First is a specialized skill set, and second is a portfolio. For me the first thing has never been hard to figure out. I have loved running sound since I was a kid. The second part was a slight bit more difficult. Most techies work with physical things (i.e. sets, props, costumes.) being a sound designer and engineer is a little different though because I am working with things like digital sound files and sounds that you hear. So when my professors told me I need to start creating a sound portfolio I was slightly distraught on how to take these intangible items and present them in a way that allows me to explain my concepts to people who don’t know much about sound.

My first idea had been to create a website that others could visit and have all the information and sound files there. The problem that I had with this is that I could not afford to use a web site host, and I don’t have access to a server that I could have hosted my web site on my own. Not to mention the fact that I actually have no web design and creation background. So I kept brainstorming for ideas. The next idea I had was to create some simple presentations that people could click through. This was actually not a bad idea. The only issue is walking the line between sophisticated and crap. To help keep on the side of sophisticated I decided to use the hyperlink ability that Keynote has to help me gain a website feel.

To actually present my work I took 30 to 40 second clips of various tracks from the different shows I had worked on. Then created links to each of these on slides for each show. This allowed me to give a broad example of my concepts.

While at SETC this past weekend I was given the opportunity to show my portfolio to several experienced sound designers, and get feed back about how I can improve my portfolio. Overall everyone thought that I had accomplished the challenges of sound designers quite well. Most of the advice I received was just in the presentation of my material. They recommended that I add more photos or video, which is something that I have wanted to do, but just haven’t had an opportunity to get the images I need. They also talked to me about some paper work like speaker position layouts, channel hook-ups, and screen shots of programs and the multi-track works that I have created that would be a great addition.

Another idea for presenting my work that I saw one designer use was to create three to four minute soundscape clips that give an example of the entire play’s sound design. Though complex it gives a snippets of the atmospheres and moods created through out the show by the sound design.

Over the next several weeks I hope to use all of the information and feedback I gleaned from SETC, and the sound designers I met with, to boost my portfolio to a whole new level.


Guest Designer — Kate Pierson

We were honoured the last 3 weeks to have Kate Pierson in residence as our Guest Costume Designer.  Kate is a gifted Costumer Designer from the Northwest US and was willing to make the trip to Belhaven in the Deep south and collaborate with us on our current production of Juliet and her Romeo.

I wanted to share her design notes with you and a pictorial form of the costume plot for the show because I think it demonstrates what a challenge this show was to design and chart especially from a costuming standpoint and how a story and concept can be told and supported by the design elements of a production.  Enjoy.

Juliet & her Romeo — Designer Notes

How to dress 8 actors playing 25 roles that are changing in every scene?

Juliet & her Romeo has been one of the most challenging designs I have ever done due to the sheer complexity of the logistics of fitting many different sized bodies into one costume and still retain the believability of character and fluidity of movement for the play.

The first directives that were given to me consisted of ideas of exploration, movement and flight; I wasn’t bound by a time or place, or by a color palette that depicted familial ties (which is often used in costumes for Romeo & Juliet).  Combined with the complexity of the actor/scene/character changes I knew I had to find a style that would support the nature of the play as well as offer some flexibility of style…Steampunk occurred to me fairly early on.

I believed the romantic yet edgy nature of the steampunk style, which melds together the future with the past worked well with the multifaceted direction of the director’s vision.  Because any particular costume piece needed to be worn by several actors as well as be easily donned and doffed I gave them an industrial and romantic functionality to the costumes; using basic black dancewear as the background canvas, adaptable pieces such as coats and vests fronts and a wide range of accessories and costume props with lots of embellishment the costumes became useful tools to help identify the characters.


is a sub-genre of science fictionalternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistictechnology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashionculturearchitectural styleart, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.

Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigiblesanalog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage‘sAnalytical engine.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.

Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.


Again Thank you to Kate and all her hard work and effort in collaborating and helping us produce this production.  Please forgive me for the cell phone photos of the renderings they really are beautiful!

Murder in the Cathedral Production Pictures

Well another Spring semester has come to a close.  But before it did we mounted, presented, & have now struck our production of Murder in the Cathedral.  Please check out our pictures here.

Also a huge THANK YOU!!  to our photographer — Merianne Dietrich  of   Merianne Dietrich Photography — please stop by her site and check out all her albums, and check her out on Facebook as well.

Murder in the Cathedral

Knights mocking Thomas in Murder in the Cathedral

Does the Music Fit

Last semester the design students were given a piece of music and asked to create an environment that embodied the musical experience.  I decided to make a little movie presentation of the music with a picture of their work.  I will try and post a few of these over the next few days.  Here is the first one, please feel leave comments and feedback is you think these particular environments fit the aural experience.



Portfolio Day

or Judgement Day….

….as it is sometimes referred to by the students, happened the last Friday of classes.  It is a day for the Production emphasis people in the Dept. and those taking production or deisgn classes to present their semester’s work to the rest of the department.  It is often  preceded by a day of furious activity by those presenting until each display is tweaked just right and ready for public consumption.

This year we had a healthy number of people presenting and I wanted to share some of the pictures of their displays from that day.






sg1webWe were lucky to be able to have Professor Marc Quattlebaum, the Design & Tech professor from Milsaps join us and help give our presenters feedback on their work, presentations, and displays.  In turn the students are able to process the feedback and apply it.  This in turn helps prepare them for the presentations and interviews they will have as they pursue jobs  or Graduate schools opportunities.

Please leave some feedback for them here as well as the