From shooting video of dolphins for SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove to producing his own television shows, F.I.R.S.T. Institute Audio Engineering and Music Production program graduate Nicholas Baptiste has experience in many facets the digital media industry. Discover how Nicholas found a career in the audio industry that aligned with his lifetime love of music in today’s Audio Graduate Spotlight series!
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START GETTING INTERESTED IN THE AUDIO ENGINEERING INDUSTRY?
I was always into music; I grew up with parents that listened to classic rock and country. I always had an ear for good music. I always wanted to go to school for audio, but first I went to The Art Institute and did video production because they didn’t have an audio program. After that, I started to really get into the audio side of it, just buying my own gear and things like that. So I started in film and then eventually got more into audio. I was all over the board with film, video, photography, audio, a little bit of everything.
HAS THE AUDIO ENGINEERING INDUSTRY ALWAYS BEEN A PASSION OF YOURS?
Music has always been a personal passion. I started playing guitar when I was 17. My buddy got me into Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and all those bands that I really loved and it grew from there. I played guitar and a little piano and I knew working in audio or music in some capacity was something I really wanted to do.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE IT BEYOND A HOBBY AND PURSUE THIS AS A CAREER?
I always had the passion of going to school for audio, so I went to F.I.R.S.T. Institute. I was trying to get a career in the audio industry, and in the meantime I got a job in videography at Discovery Cove. Then I had an opportunity to do audio at a TV studio. I do that now; I’m an audio engineer at a TV station. I also work doing ADR, audio dialogue replacement, where I’m changing movies in English into French. I get to pick up a little French along the way which is pretty cool.
I also worked for PSAV, I was an A2 so I set up all the speakers, run all the cables, and stuff like that for the lead audio engineer.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GO TO AN AUDIO ENGINEERING SCHOOL VERSUS LEARNING ON YOUR OWN?
There’s a whole other side to learn in audio than what you can learn on your own. I really wanted to meet people that played instruments and just feed off of other people that knew and respected the the audio industry and loved it. There’s really only one way to do that and that’s to go to school and socialize with people who love the industry as well.
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WHEN YOU WERE JUST STARTING OUT?
I really wanted to get into the music industry but I think the industry today is lacking a lot of talent and it’s not the road I thought I wanted to go down. I’m not so interested in rap or hip hop or making beats; I like old school music and instruments and that raw talent and I think a lot of that is gone from the industry today. I can’t listen to music today and have it take me back like that old music did. I think that’s gone in music, unfortunately. I remember listening to The Eagles and Led Zeppelin when I was a kid and it being so uplifting. Even at school, I was the only person who played an instrument and that was a real bummer.
But at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we got the opportunity to meet audio engineer John Blanche and hear stories of the old school recording days. We got to look at a record that he mastered and engineered. He’s a living legend and I don’t think people today will have those. He has a studio in Longwood and I met up with him a couple times while I was at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. He came into class a couple times to talk to us, it was so amazing to see him with the original Hotel California album by The Eagles and then he actually mastered one of my songs. It was surreal.
Meeting him was definitely influential for me and I still talk about him all the time. To be in his studio and listen to him tell stories of who had been in that exact same studio, like the guys from The Temptations, it was amazing.
SINCE GRADUATION, CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE INTERESTING WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE DIGITAL MEDIA INDUSTRY?
I worked as a videographer in the water with the dolphins at Discovery Cove. That was an experience definitely not everyone gets. To see people’s faces light up while working with this amazing animal — it was a highlight of my life. I had started doing video work while I was waiting for an audio job but then I found this TV studio right across from my house and I was hired on the spot. I’ve been there for a year now. It’s a lot of fun, it’s crazy that people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes of television shows. It’s a whole other world.
WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
I get to run my own TV show, a late night talk show called The Samy Priso show. I do the cameras, I produce and direct, I do the audio and the lighting, I do everything myself. I’m running my own show and it’s pretty awesome. I get to meet all the guests that come in and talk to so many different people. The ADR is also really fun, putting the movies into French.
I do another show with James Yon called The Viral Breakdown. Every Wednesday he comes and does a Tosh.0 kind of show, and I also do that show all by myself. It’s a really fun and awesome show to get to do.
I’ve also done foley work. Me and my buddy shoot skits and I do the ADR and soundtracks and do the whole production. It’s just a lot of fun and to do imaginative work all the time is very rewarding.
Having imagination is very important part in audio or any of the related industries like video, film, photography, etc. Without it you won’t go anywhere.
It’s also a great, mellow atmosphere which is awesome. I get to wear anything I want and it’s fun working with other people who are smart and energetic and love what they do, too. It’s awesome.
IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING COME FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?
Hopefully some new TV shows. I’m working with the studio to try to bring a sports show, almost like a Kelly and Regis type show. I want to try to bring the Samy Priso comedy side combined with a girl who’s down to earth. I’ll definitely be working on a couple of shows to watch out for!
3-5 YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOUR CAREER GOALS LOOK LIKE?
Hopefully I’m still in a studio. I love the studio work, it’s so much fun. I hope I’m doing more of my own things with the audio side of things. I’d love to get into commercials. I’ll also hopefully find some good talent to lay down some music tracks with. I’ll go wherever the wind blows me.
I’ve realized that whenever an opportunity comes up you just have to keep on pushing and you’ll make it. I kept pushing and telling myself I would make it and I did. You gotta have faith and you gotta believe.
HOW DID ATTENDING F.I.R.S.T. INSTITUTE IMPACT YOUR LIFE/CAREER?
It opened my eyes up to more of the ADR, the foley, the sound effects and what actually goes into producing music. What I really loved about the school was how hands on it was. The teachers, Rich and John, were amazing. The atmosphere in the place was really great. I’d definitely recommend it over going to Full Sail or another large school like that. It’s a little classroom with great teachers. You won’t meet legends like John Blanche at the other schools. It was a great time I wish it never ended.
I still use the technical skills that I learned there in my day-to-day work. I learned so much just using my ears and really getting to know how music is mixed. Now, I can hear a song and know when something is missing or mixed wrong. It makes me really pick things apart, which is great.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO GET STARTED IN THE AUDIO ENGINEERING INDUSTRY?
Play an instrument! Know your instruments and have an ear for good talent.
Other than that, don’t give up; strive for better. Nothing will come to you if you give up. Don’t let any option pass you by, whether it’s film or television. Audio jobs in those industries can be as good or even better than the music industry jobs for networking and meeting people, so don’t overlook those options. Keep hoping and believing that you’ll find that great job that you’ve been waiting for. Only you can get yourself there.
ANY LAST WORDS THAT YOU’D LIKE TO INCLUDE?
All I can say is don’t let the old school way of doing things fade away. The music and movies of the past are the greatest there ever were so keep those as influences to get back the greatness of the film and music industries before it fades away. Today, in this industry, it’s so easy for people to just go buy Pro Tools or a camera. People don’t realize how important it is to actually have the technical skills to use these things in the right way.
Would You Like to Be Our Next Audio Engineering School Success Story?
You could be featured in our next Audio Graduate Spotlight! A quality education from a good audio engineering school like F.I.R.S.T. Institute, one of the best audio engineering schools in Florida, can teach you the skills you need to succeed in all types of music industry jobs. There you’ll learn what you need to get your new audio production career off the ground, you’ll even learn your way around a studio and things like how to make your own music and how to make beats.
You won’t get our quality, hands on learning experience with passionate audio industry professionals anywhere else! Check out the Audio Engineering and Music Production program at the F.I.R.S.T. Institute audio production school today. You’re only months away from your dream career in the audio engineering industry!