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SDA 008: Derrick Espino – Tokyo, Tech, and The Last Of Us

podcast session 8 derrick espino: tokyo, tech, and the last of us

This week I sat down with Sound Designer Derrick Espino. Derrick is not only an amazing human being, but has also worked on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, God of War: Chains of Olympus, God of War III, Twisted Metal, Soul Sacrifice, God of War: Ascension, The Last of Us, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and so many more. You can check out all of his titles here. It’s really incredible stuff.

Session Notes:

  • Originally from Modesto, CA
  • Moved to LA
  • Currently livin’ the dream in Tokyo
  • Working with an international team has its challenges
  • It pays to radiate positivity and people dig enthusiasm
  • Japanese banks close at 3 pm. 
  • Family has a musical background. Derrick grew up around music.
  • When Derrick was 6-7 he discovered he could use his mom’s portable tape recorder to capture sounds
  • Beatles fan at an early age
  • Wanted to play guitar and that really set the stage
  • Had a 4-track in High School
  • Started out wanting to be an illustrator
  • When Derrick decided to do sound he went to the Expression Center for New Media in Emeryville California
  • Worked with Ann Kroeber when in school. She ended up liking his stuff, and Derrick became her intern.
  • Used a Nagra back in 2001, but generally used DAT
  • Edited Sound on American Gun
  • From there worked at Earwax with Jeff Darby
  • Moved to LA started working at Sound Dogs and  met Andrew Bracken
  • Was offered a game audio gig, and turned it down. Was offered the job again five months later, and passed it along to Jeff.
  • The same group had a ton of extra work and needed a contractor. That’s when Derrick joined and met all the folks at Sony.
  • They then offered him a job, and Derrick turned it down again.
  • Later they had some more freelance work, and Derrick took that.
  • Got into a tight spot financially, and a friend ended up calling and offered another game contractor job. This led to Derrick getting the job he had turned down 3 times. This was the game changer.
  • You can make through even the darkest times.
  • You can’t appreciate the good moments if you’ve never survived the bad ones.
  • Everything can change on a dime. Good fortune can go away just as easily as it comes, and vice versa.
  • We’re trying to educate folks on audio, so that life can be better for all audio people.
  • Derrick’s High School Band: Rhythmic Sushi
  • A big sound design inspiration: Eddie VanHalen 
  • Discussion on sound philosophy
  • Michael poo poo’s the orc calls in the Battle of Helm’s Deep
  • Derrick recommends Steal Like an Artist
  • Discussion of the Wilhelm Scream and it’s permeance in games and film
  • Always serve the story first and foremost.
  • A discussion of the Beatles and isolated tracks.
  • If you’re going to do Sound Design, you’re going to tell stories to other people. You need to understand them.
  • Big fan of David Lynch
  • Derrick’s been playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Don’t get hung up on things that don’t matter.

Short Answer

Favorite Microphone


Schoeps CMC6 Body with an MK4 capsule 

Recommended Book


On Writing by Stephen King

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity by David Lynch

Best Piece of Advice


“You become by doing… and that’s it.”

Connect with Derrick on:





Grounded – The Making of the Last of Us