Ayako Yamauchi '10 Forges Post-Production Career in Video Games, TV, and Film
Los Angeles-based audio engineer Ayako Yamauchi B.M. '10 has persevered in pursuing a successful post-production career in video games, TV, and film with roles that span from dialogue editing and sound design to mixing, mastering, and producing. Recently, Yamauchi worked on the video game Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which was released on August 22. The game is the most recent chapter in the Uncharted series, which has sold more than 35 million units; last year, Uncharted 4 took home multiple Game Awards as well as several Game Audio Network Guild Awards. For the international release of The Lost Legacy, Yamauchi worked on dialogue mastering in several languages, preparing the audio for implementation into the game.
“There were tons of files,” Yamauchi explains, noting that the process required more-than-full-time work for more than a month, during which time her work included setting audio levels, removing excess noise, adding fade-ins and fade-outs, and more.
Watch a trailer for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy:
The project came to her by way of Formosa Interactive, a post-production sound company that has worked on major titles with companies such as Nintendo and Naughty Dog. At Formosa, Yamauchi is a voice-over (VO) editor and mastering engineer. Prior to her work on video games, Yamauchi worked on feature films such as The Darkness and TV shows such as Mad Men and The Get Down.
Sticking with It
The alumna moved to Los Angeles in 2013 after working as a freelance audio engineer in Boston following her graduation from Berklee, where she majored in electronic production and design. She says her road in LA was not always easy, admitting that, “I was thinking I should quit at some points.”
However, her tenacity began to pay off when she received her first major feature film opportunity, recording foley and assisting the sound editor thanks in part to a referral by Justine Taormino, associate director of Alumni Affairs in Los Angeles. Taormino also informed Yamauchi—and the Berklee in L.A. community at large—about the SAE Tech Expo, where Yamauchi met veteran mastering engineer Dave Collins, who previously worked at A&M Studios with Rob Jaczko, chair of Berklee’s Music Production and Engineering (MP&E) Department. Yamauchi went on to work for Collins, doing quality control on major records and gaining confidence in the process.
“Dave encouraged me,” Yamauchi says. “At that time, I had just moved to Los Angeles without any major credits on IMDb like now, so that meant a lot.”
Competition for audio engineering work remained high, but Yamauchi’s persistence eventually led to her position at Formosa, where she most recently finished dialogue editing for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Eternal Throne.
Watch a preview for Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Eternal Throne:
“I love Formosa’s team,” Yamauchi says. “They value my editing skills and the knowledge I gained from working at mastering studios as well as the workflow I learned about game audio in Berklee Online's class with Gina Zdanowicz.”
Meanwhile, Yamauchi has stayed in touch with the Berklee community, enjoying work on a music video project, “Eternally,” with Berklee alumni musicians Noriaki Hosoya B.M. '06, Koichi Kimura B.M. '09, and Carlo Ribaux B.M. '13.
To those interested in following a similar path, Yamauchi advises, “I started as a sound editor, but a lot of people need to start as an assistant or runner, which is normal.” Yamauchi says her field of work comes with few guarantees, but she has found that persistence and an openness to playing necessary roles can lead to great opportunities in the future. For her, those opportunities landed her a job at a company where she is valued and able to contribute to one of the biggest video game franchises of all time.