Week 5: How to become a Sound Engineer and what they do – Unit 3

Introduction:

In this task I will be looking into how to become a sound engineer, and the different roles that come under that like Sound Assistant, Boom Operator, and Sound Designer.

What they do:

There are 4 main job roles in in sound, Sound Assistant, Sound Engineer, Boom Operator, and the Sound Designer. There is also the very specialized Foley Operator, they create the sound effects for a movie, for instance in order to get the sound of people walking on gravel they’ll push an object in and out of cat litter to get the right sound effect. There are also 2 areas in which Sound Engineers work which are location and studio. Some people work in both areas and some specialize in one, as there are different skills and techniques used when on location compared to in a controlled studio.

Sound Assistant:

The Sound Assistant is the entry level job in Sound. Usually a lot of young people will have this role, as it is usually used to work their way up to becoming a Sound Engineer or Sound Designer. The Sound Assistant is responsible for setting up and prepare the equipment for the Sound Engineer and Boom Operator before the shooting starts. They will also most likely have to deal with any problems to do with unwanted sound, for example talking, cars, sneezing/coughing very quickly so that there is no problems with the shooting schedule. They will also be in charge of packaging and labelling all of the sound discs at the end of the day.

Sound Engineer:

The Sound Engineer is what most people train for at University, a lot of people in this role started out as Sound Assistants and worked their way up to this job. The Sound Engineer physically operates the sound equipment with the help of the Sound Assistant. They can work in both production, being on set and recording the sound, and post-production, working in an editing studio and producing the final track. They use the equipment and place it to fit with the instructions that the Sound Designer gives. The Sound Engineer may also be responsible for playing sound effects or music on a live TV show.

Boom Operator:

Boom Operators control the long boom arm by holding it as close to the action as possible, it can be handheld or attached to a dolly. They may have to memorise the script and know it off by heart in order to know when they need to move to achieve the best sound quality. They must have a basic knowledge of camera angles and focal lengths in order to not get the muff in shot. They must also have knowledge of basic lighting techniques so that there are no shadows in shot either.

Sound Designer:

The Sound Designer is in charge of all sound in production and post-production. They tell the Sound Engineer where to put their equipment and will tell the Boom Operators where to stand and where to move through the scene. In post-production the Sound Engineers use the latest software to clean up the audio tracks in order to get the best dialogue, they will also spend time editing the original recordings in order to create a new sound they need, using plug-ins, synthesizers and samples. This links with what the Foley Operator does.

How to become one:

The easiest route to get a job is to go to University and do a degree in Film Production and specialize in Sound in the final year. This will show potential employers that you’re passionate about sound and you will probably start off in the job as a Sound Assistant. Another way to get in is luck, if you have any contacts in the industry then you may be able to start as a runner and eventually move onto a job as a Sound Assistant, however the pay probably wouldn’t be as good and it would take longer to progress due to not having a degree.

Evaluation:

I have learnt that there are lots of different jobs that come under the sound category. I wasn’t aware that the Boom operator was a job in itself and thought that the sound engineer did it before this task. I also learnt that it is helpful to go to university and specialise in sound to get a good job.

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Week 5: How to become a Sound Engineer and what they do – Unit 3

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