'We want the event to keep growing': AES's Mariana Lopez on the importance of Up Your Output
Earlier this year, Leeds Beckett University hosted the sixth edition of the Audio Engineering Society’s Up Your Output student event. Here, AES UK vice president Mariana Lopez, tells PSNEurope why such initiatives are so important to the industry …
Up Your Output is an annual event that was first envisioned in 2013 by Nik Georgiev and was included as part of the benefits offered to AES student members. Since its inception it has provided students with career and networking opportunities, but it’s so much more than that. It was never just about specialism, it was always about helping students grow, not just as budding audio engineers, but as people.
Who we are (in addition to our specialism) is what we bring with us to our work practices and has a great impact in our industry. Learning about different ways of doing things, different paths into the industry, different forms of education and backgrounds are all key to education. The AES embraces a huge number of sub-fields and we are keen on exposing our student members to diverse role models.
Up Your Output hasn’t stopped growing since 2013. From a one-day workshop it has now turned into a whole weekend event. The number of sponsors has more than doubled since 2013 from six to 15 this year. This is a huge achievement and key to the continuation of Up Your Output as it’s thanks to sponsor contributions that we are able to keep the event free of charge.
The 2018 Up Your Output is one I’m particularly proud of. From this year and onwards Up Your Output has turned into our flagship event for equality by providing students with a variety of role models. For the first time ever we had 50% female speakers (this is compared to none in 2013, 17% in 2014, 11% in 2015, 25% in 2016 and 7% in 2017).
In addition to this, we were also eager to make sure we encouraged the participation of female and
non-binary audio students and we awarded three HeForShe bursaries sponsored by Big Bear Audio. The bursaries covered the cost of the AES Student Membership. As a result of our commitment we had 31% female participants. This is wonderful news, especially if we consider that the AES Membership only incudes about 5-6% of female members.
The diversity in our programme was reflected clearly in the topics we covered at the event, which were intended to spark the interest of students by encouraging them to think about career options that they might not have been familiar with previously. Day one started with an interview with sound editor Kate Hopkins from Wounded Buffalo. If you ever watched any nature documentaries, it is very likely that Kate was involved. Broadcast engineer Ann Charles talked us through the skills involved in her job and the variety of paths open to students that wish to enter the field. Those students interested in games were treated to a session by Joe Thom, who is a junior sound designer at TT Games.
The afternoon was all about workshops. I managed to attend two of them, one on mixing with Marta Salogni and the other on mastering with Katie Tavini. It was exciting to learn from both Katie and Marta and students commented on how incredibly valuable and insightful they found these experiences.
Day two kicked off with two presentations by AES vice president in the US, Leslie Gaston-Bird. The first one was an introduction to the newly formed AES Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which she chairs. The second was a presentation on her work as a foley recordist for the film Feral. We were also thrilled to welcome Eloise Whitmore, whose breadth of experience in the field of radio drama is amazing and her explanations on her creative practice were incredibly inspiring, which was obvious by the line of students waiting to speak to her after her talk. The afternoon included two interactive events: a workshop delivered by Gavin Kearney from the University of York on audio for VR and the other was a critique session that invited students to play their audio work and receive feedback from a panel of audio experts. The latter was led by Ian Corbett and the panel included Paul Thompson, Nik Georgiev and myself.
A special thanks goes to Paul Thompson, member of the organising committee and an extra special thanks to the chair of the Up Your Output committee Ben Mosley, who choreographed an inspiring event.
So what next? We are hoping Up Your Output 2019 is even better and reaches and even larger number of students. We had around 80 registrations this year but we would like the event to keep growing. I personally don’t want money to be the reason why students don’t attend, which is why we hope that in the future we can continue providing bursaries to ensure the most motivated students can participate.
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