So now we know why we need sound design - who makes up the sound team? Below is a full list of audio personnel needed for a film. On larger budget projects, some departments may contain several people for each role with a supervisor overseeing them. In smaller budgets projects, many of the roles will be combined into a few roles of a smaller group of people, or even just 1 person.
Each role has been grouped into 2 of the 3 production stages of a film – the production phase and the post-production phase, however, as we will see in future articles, it is extremely beneficial to a film to involve a couple of key individuals during the pre-production phase – specifically the production sound mixer and the supervising sound editor.
Production Sound Mixer
The Production Sound Mixer is responsible for all the sound recorded on set. They source the correct equipment, direct their assistant sound team and record all the audio. In order to get the best recordings, they will choose microphones and work with other departments (costume/set design etc.) to ensure the cleanest possible audio is recorded. They will also provide a mixed version of all the microphones on set, which can be used for monitoring on set, viewing rushes and editing. They may also, with the rest of their sound team, provide audio playback on set for actors to sing or move to such as during club/dance scenes or for actors to sing along to musical numbers.
The 1st Assistant Sound operates the boom microphone and will mic up the actors on set with radio/lavalier microphones. They are a major link between the production sound mixer and the rest of the on-set team.
The 2nd Assistant Sound provides assistance to the production sound mixer and 1stAssistant sound. This may be in the form of swinging a second boom microphone, running cables, maintaining equipment and backing up data.
Supervising Sound Editor
The Supervising Sound Editor is responsible for all the members of the post sound department. They hire and direct the sound team and ensure that the director’s vision for the sound design is adhered to. They will record, source and edit the sounds they need to provide the final soundtrack.
The term sound designer often falls under two categories. If the film is a low budget or short film production, there is often only one person involved in post-production sound and they are often credited as sound designer. On larger scale projects, sound designers tend to be hired to supplement the other editors and create & design new sounds for the film soundtrack, often for specific effects, such as alien spaceships or light-sabers!
A sound editor is responsible for any sound editing on the film, whether it be dialogue or FX. Their roles are often split out to dialogue, spot FX, atmos and design elements.
The dialogue editor handles all the production sound recordings and edits the final dialogue of the film. They are responsible for removing unwanted sounds through editing and providing a smooth clean dialogue track as well as pulling out production sound effects which can be used by the FX department. They are also responsible for providing ADR lists to the ADR mixers.
Sound FX Editor
The sound FX editor is responsible for editing all the sound FX for the film and will work with the sound designer to provide the final FX track. This will include Atmos FX, spot FX, design FX etc.
ADR stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement and is the process of recording lines of dialogue in a studio or other location after final production. ADR is often needed to replace noisy location recordings, change story lines, create additional story or change the performance. The ADR Mixer records all the ADR for the film.
The ADR editor will edit and sync up all the ADR for film. This role is sometimes taken on by the dialogue editor and/or ADR Mixer.
The Foley Mixer is the engineer responsible for recording all the foley sounds for the film. They work closely with the foley artist to create realistic and detailed foley FX.
The Foley Artist performs movements and actions, which mimic the action on set and creates the foley soundtrack. This will include movement of clothing, walking in specially designed pits to create footsteps as well as the sound of character’s interaction with props. All the movements are performed live to picture.
The foley editor will edit all the foley FX and make sure they all sync up to the picture. This is sometimes handled by the Foley Mixer or the Sound FX Editor.
The composer is responsible for creating the final music for the film in keeping with the directors vision.
The music editor edits the music to the picture making sure any dramatic moments are synced to the picture and also edits the music to any picture changes.
The Mix Technician provides technical support to the mixing team during the mixing process as well as performing assistant duties such as setting up hardware and software.
The Re-Recording mixer balances all the final sound elements supplied by the sound department, will reduce the noise of location recordings, add reverbs to create realistic spaces and balance the music with all the other elements. They are the final part of the sound post process and will work with the director to ensure the final soundtrack is balanced, has clarity, is exciting and enhances the emotion and action on screen. On larger productions, there may be multiple re-recording mixers, each handling dialogue, music and effects.
In television, the re-recording mixer is often referred to as the dubbing mixer. In some cases, the whole TV post-production process may be handled by the dubbing mixer. They will record voice-over, tracklay sound FX, edit the music and mix the final project. In others, there will be a bigger sound team – this is often the case for TV drama and natural history shows, which require a high quality soundtrack in a fast turnaround.
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