Recording Connection Success Story—Jeff Franks: On the Frontier of New Gaming Technology
Recording Connection audio engineering graduate, Jeff Franks finds success working in the electronic games industry.
Jeff Franks of Arvada, Colorado is an audio engineer taking part in that brave new world that is the frontier of technology. After graduating from the mentor-guided audio engineering program offered by Recording Connection, he and a couple of close friends went on to found Zebra Lightning, a company that creates and sells mobile games and applications for the Android market. Now, with a commercial facility, paid staff and a stream of busy interns, the future ahead looks very promising for Franks and his colleagues. However, the road ahead hasn’t always been a straight line for Franks but rather, a journey of discovering his real interests in life and learning more every step of the way.
Franks describes his audio engineering work he does with Zebra Lightning as keeping “consistent with the way that the game actually looks” while also “trying to get people enticed to play the game by how it sounds.” Amongst the games Franks has done the soundscapes and effects for are Ninja Dojo, Marble Droid and one that’s currently in development with the working title “Fire Game.”
But Franks wouldn’t have the skills and technical knowhow it takes to do what he does were it not for his training as an audio engineer. Nevertheless, designing sounds for games was probably the last thing on his mind when he first thought of pursuing an education in audio engineering. For Franks, it was the natural progression of an interest that developed over time.
In speaking of the limited recording skills he had prior to his training, Franks says: “I’ve been DJ-ing actually for the past eight years, and I always wondered how they made all those tracks and all of the cool sounds on the tracks and I was actually really remedial and did it actually as a hobby... Something to take up my time, and that transitioned into me being able to use digital-audio workspaces, but, I basically wanted to learn how to make music, how to use the midi-controllers, use all of the plug-ins that all the big productions are made with.”
This led him to Recording Connection where he was able to train as an apprentice to a professional audio engineer and to learn the real-world ins-and-outs of audio engineering in a hands-on manner. Spending time in the studio proved to be the right choice for him. Franks discovered “It was a lot more fun than I realized. After a while, I just realized this was what I wanted to do with my life.”
From there Franks might have envisioned the next big step after graduation as making music, but fate soon intervened when a couple of friends he had known since elementary school, proposed he create the sound effects for a project they’d been working on—a video game for smartphones.
Franks reluctantly took the task at hand but not without a healthy dose of trepidation. In speaking of his decision, he says: “I had never done anything for a game and I just straight up make music so at the time I just wanted to keep making music. My mind was kind of closed to everything else but I told him I would give it a shot and see what kind of stuff I could do for their game.”
In the process of working on the soundscape for the game, Franks discovered he really liked the creativity of the work he was engaged in: “It actually really inspired me to go try new things with audio besides just making music in a studio. … It’s crazy how many different things you can do with audio and so we just started making this game. We ran into a lot of hiccups with it, I had to think of many creative ways to make these random sounds like a ninja star going through the air and hitting a board and getting creative with the theme, you have to theme a lot of things and keep it consistent with the way that the game actually looks and trying to get people enticed to play the game by how it sounds. … I feel like if you make the audio enticing and if it’s something people want to hear they don’t want to shut it off.”
Well Franks and his partners seem to just be hitting their stride with many projects slated for the near future at Zebra Lightning.
“Right now we are focusing on the android platform and weʼre trying to make video games right now but we do want to expand into other apps and useful tools to create. … We have a goal right now of producing 70 games by the end of the year. We might be shooting a little high but we always have to try shooting for the stars, you know?”
Had Franks not pursued his interests he would have never achieved the success he has today. In this fast-changing, technological world , having a plan that’s set-in-stone might be missing the point altogether; whereas, preparing yourself and developing those skills to which you seem naturally inclined just might put you in the perfect position to launch a very bright future.
To learn more about Recording Connection’s intense, six-month, mentor-guided programs in audio engineering, visit www.recordingconnection.com.
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- Brian Kraft
- Recording Connection Audio Institute
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