How do you combine a love of films with a passion for sound design? For RAC alum Frédéric Siron-Mazalon, the answer is creating audio for games and interactive amusement park attractions. No matter the assignment – be it converting audio files or working with hundreds of speakers for a ride – Frédéric has always maintained a strong work ethic and creative curiosity that have led him to continuously reach career highs.
In just a few short years, Frédéric has managed to build an impressive portfolio, with his work being featured around the world. He spoke with RAC to share details about his professional trajectory and to explain just how impactful being proactive both inside and outside of the classroom has been to his career.
Best way to get in the zone/inspired?: Music & rain
Favourite music video: Laylow – MEGATRON
You’re on a desert island, and you can only take 3 albums. Which do you take?:
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Sofiane Pamart – Planet
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
Are you a morning person or a night owl?: Night owl
RAC: Tell us a little about your background and what influenced you to get into the world of audio.
Frédéric: I come from a family that always had a lot of interest in music, but only as avid consumers. None have a career in the field, but they all show a lot of interest in casual listening – I was always surrounded by music and learning to play new instruments. In college, I decided to study Film, which at that point was what I thought was my passion. It wasn’t before long that I started to focus on audio and would find myself working on the sounds for our projects. Following that interest, I graduated and started my studies at RAC, where I realized I could pursue a career that actually reflected my passion: sound and music.
RAC: When did you first realize that audio and sound design was something that you wanted to pursue professionally?
Frédéric: When I started RAC, I found that for the first time I was completely surrounded by people pursuing a shared passion and who were either starting or already in the industry. This is where I initially realized that this passion could be a profession. While studying and getting more familiar with the industry, I also realized that Montreal had a lot of opportunities and that it would not be hard to get into the business; it was only a question of time and motivation.
RAC: You’ve done a lot of creating and designing sound for interactive experiences. Tell us how you first got interested in this type of sound design and how you got your start.
Frédéric: When I was an intern at RAC, I applied for a 3-week – very boring – contract. I was asked to do the simple task of converting Surround files to Mono files for an entertainment/roller coaster company. After searching online for ways to get this work done faster, I was able to finish the job within a few days. The company then gave me other more interesting tasks for the remainder of my contract, despite it being my first time ever working in this type of medium. A few months later, they had an opening for Audio Integrator and they gave me a call. I ended up working there for two years, creating and integrating sounds for various roller coaster/interactive experiences around the world. All this started with simply converting audio files.
RAC: What was one of your favourite projects to work on? Can you share some details about the project itself, your specific tasks, and what your proudest accomplishment was?
Frédéric: Without being too boring, my favorite projects have to be the ones that have unfortunately not been announced, therefore I cannot disclose much information about them. I was given complete freedom for the first time on one of these particular projects. I was the sole sound designer and integrator on the project, so I was able to put all my creativity into concrete results.
A very fun and challenging project I worked on that’s already released is an interactive roller coaster in California called Knott’s Bear-y Tales. I had to deal with hundreds of speakers blasting sounds, voices, and music simultaneously all around the attraction. There are speakers in front of you, behind you, in your controller, and in the moving cart you’re sitting in. This project had a lot of challenges, but that made it even more fun to work on.
RAC: You also design sound for video games and other electronic devices. What was your first sound job for this medium? How did you get your foot in the door?
Frédéric: While working my first job in the interactive experience industry, I established good contacts which resulted in my being asked later to help with the audio integration on the video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. That was my first experience with video games, but I felt very comfortable as the process was the same as that for my previous projects. Later, the company had an opening as Technical Sound Designer and I got the job. Since then I’ve mostly been working on console and PC video games.
RAC: What are some of the projects that you would typically work on when designing sound for video games? Is there something clients always ask for or is each project unique?
Frédéric: Every project I’ve worked on has generally been unique, however clients do have very similar requests. I might have to design a bunch of explosions for four different projects within a full year, but each project has its unique mood and creative process, so I will design completely different sounds.
RAC: Tell us about your time at RAC. How did you find your education helped you land jobs?
Frédéric: Without my year at RAC, I would never have gotten the jobs that I have in the last few years. With that said, I am very critical of education in general. What was most important was how I acted and the initiative I took during my year at RAC, as well as my interactions with people there. If I had simply gone to classes and then gone back home as if it was highschool, I would not be where I am professionally today. The time I put in outside of classes – spending extra time with the staff, seeking more knowledge, talking to classmates – was the foundation for my work ethic, and I believe it’s what landed me jobs.
RAC: What are your goals as an audio engineer and sound designer? Have you already reached major milestones that you’re proud of?
Frédéric: As far as audio for video games, an attainable goal of mine would be to direct all of the audio for a game from the beginning of the project to its release. I’d like to have complete creative freedom with music and sound design. But I have also definitely reached milestones. In 2022, games with my sound design were finally released on major consoles and PCs; this was the first time that I could announce an official release for a project I’ve worked on. At the same time, all the other projects I was working on were still in production or were private projects for amusement parks across the world. Definitely a high point of my career.
RAC: Thank you so much for your time Frédéric! Can you share any new and exciting things that are in store for you for the rest of 2022?
Frédéric: By the end of this year, I will have spent almost half the year around the world, getting inspired, listening, collecting sounds, and – most importantly – discovering new cultures. I have special ideas that I can’t wait to implement in my next projects, but of course I can’t talk about those… Keep an eye out!
Written by Ania Szneps
Illustration by Yihong Guo