Christa Giammatei is an Audio Engineer and sound designer for commercial, game audio & post-production work. She also runs a Clothing line, Command S Apparel, and is an active social media influencer in the world of post-production audio. She sat down to speak with us about her work in audio, as well as her conference talks & social media presence.
JJ: Hi Christa! Thanks for chatting today. What have you been up to?
Christa Giammattei: Hey! So I was at the ‘Leading Woman in Audio’ conference at Elon University. They had asked me to speak over there. I did a couple of panels, and then I also recently started an audio apparel line, so I was selling some audio merch there as well!
JJ: Amazing! What kinds of things were you discussing?
CG: I was talking about the early steps in an audio career – things that you would do right after graduation, trying to break into the industry and things like that. I also did one on post-production as well, ‘The Possibilities of Post’. I was trying to explain to college students all of the opportunities in post-production that you can do, that people don’t necessarily think about. It was really interesting!
JJ: There is a lot of demand for advice in the industry for help in finding those avenues and trying to figure out where to start. Do you enjoy doing these kinds of talks?
CG: I do, yeah – when I was breaking into the industry, I didn’t really have a mentor and especially like a designated Women of audio mentor that I could really go to. I’ve kind of made it a part of my mission to be that person for students and people trying to break into the audio industry, that people can go to and feel comfortable asking questions.
JJ: Yeah, you definitely see that already on your Instagram, which is informative and also really funny!
JJ: So How did you get started in sound?
CG: It started off with just a love for film and video games growing up. I grew up with two brothers, so I was always watching, like, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, things like that, playing video games with them all the time. I didn’t really know audio work could be a job until College. I was a musician for a really long time, I loved music, but I didn’t want to perform or teach. So I started researching and reading about audio engineering and I went to school for it. It was largely focused on music production, but I did a project towards the end of the course on post-production, and that was where I knew it was what I wanted to do. I then graduated from an internship in post-production and did freelancing for a while part-time until I was able to build up enough clientele to be full-time. So now I freelance full time.
JJ: Your title is that you are an Audio Engineer. What roles does that entail for you?
CG: I do a lot of dialogue editing and sound mixing, sound design. I just did some sound design for a film that premiered at Sundance, which is really awesome. I work a lot in commercials and promo, along with some documentary work that I’ve just started doing as well – I’m trying really hard to get into animation a little bit more because it’s very near and dear to my heart. I do some freelance work for some video game companies that are local to my area. Doing some asset editing and sound design for them. So, yeah, a little bit of everything, which is why I love freelance so much!
JJ: Is there as much competition for commercial work as there is the ‘cool’ stuff – video games etc?
CG: For me, I think I’ve just been really lucky and I’ve just kind of ended up talking to the right people to find my projects. When I graduated, I ended up working in a music retail store for two years whilst trying to be freelance full-time, and I would talk to everyone that came in. I quizzed them about what they did, who they were, their company – I’d just pester people to talk about audio. I wanted to know everything.
Eventually, a lot of those people ended up being clients! I just talked to the right people at the right time. So I’ve been really lucky, I think, especially locally, to work with what I do.
JJ: out of all the roles you do, has there been that one project that you’ve just been the proudest of?
CG: Honestly, it was the sound design that I just did for some animations for Sundance. It’s so much fun to sound design animations and to work on them because there’s room for doing things that are a little bit more unique – it’s not like cut and dry, straight and narrow as you would do for a normal documentary. I hope to work more on animation for sure.
JJ: I’d seen your live streams with Vanessa Flores on your page, they are really insightful. How did you two meet?
CG: I had followed her for a while and enjoyed her content, so I reached out to her to connect as you don’t see a lot of other women in post, and her journey sounded very similar to mine. We did the live streams because we thought it would be awesome for people to see two women in post talking about audio. I didn’t see that a lot when I was breaking into the industry. Instead of just giving very strict advice, we wanted to be honest and real and share our experiences of the industry.
JJ: Social media is such an important tool for networking in audio, with thriving groups and Twitter communities etc. Are you quite active on other channels as well as Instagram?
CG: This was one of the things I mentioned at the conference – if you’re not on audio Twitter, you need to be on audio Twitter! I posted something asking for advice on sound design for animation, and Nia Hansen of Skywalker Sound replied so casually, sharing what she does – it’s really happening on there!
JJ: Thinking about workflows – the workflow for film and games seem to be completely separate. Do you find that you change workflows depending on your project?
CG: Yeah, I do. I even use different DAWs. I’ll use Pro tools for post and the main things I work on, then I use Reaper when I’m working with game audio stuff. I find the workflow to make more sense in that regard. There are a few other differences too. In game audio there’s more salaried, long-term work, naturally, because games take a longer time to make, whereas in post there are more short-term contracts.
JJ: It has been great to speak with you today Christa. Before you go, I wanted to ask you about the position women are in at the moment within the audio industry. Everyone has their own thoughts on how diverse the industry is, where it is heading, and if they are seeing any progression. I was wondering what your perspective was on the issue?
CG: Sure. I have experienced things – sexism is still very apparent, but I will say that I do see progress. I see a lot of progress with organisations like SoundGirls and Women in Audio, who are doing so much good work. They are bringing a lot of awareness to the industry.
I’ve had those moments where people assume I just get coffee, or that I’m someone’s girlfriend or wife and that’s the only reason why I’m in the room. For me, it’s about not having to prove anything about yourself just because you are a woman in a studio. I am here for a reason and this is what I do. So I don’t think we are there yet, but yes, I have seen progress, for sure!
JJ: Thanks for talking to us today!
Christa Giammattei: No problem, it has been a pleasure!
For More Information on Christa Giammattei:
Visit her Website
Visit her Instagram
Christa Giammattei Clothing Line: CMD & S Apparel