Post-production sound is audio for a project with picture, such as a movie, television show, or web clip. Post-production sound is one of the final steps of the process after filming is done, and typically happens after picture editing is complete. There are a number of different jobs in audio post-production:
Sound Editors take all the existing audio in a project, organize it, clean it up, and enhance it. There are different types of sound editors:
Dialog editors focus on spoken word. A dialog editor listens to all of the mics for quality, smooths out transitions, fixes technical problems, and removes unwanted sounds from dialog when possible.
Music editors are responsible for adjusting music edits and finessing placement for music in a scene. A music editor also coordinates with the composer on a project, delivers all the music to the re-recording mixer, and often attends mixes (as the representative of the music department).
Sound fx editors (sound designers) are the people responsible for non-language sounds. The sound designer has a sound effects library (a catalog of sounds) but also records specialized sounds when needed. He/she adds background ambience sounds and will embellish sounds like explosions, car engines, or guns. The sound designer also has to build sounds from scratch for visual effects or creatures that don’t exist.
Supervising Sound Editors (or Sound Supervisors) oversees the sound crew working on a project (sort of like a manager). They communicate with directors, producers and picture editors about sound, supervises ADR sessions, and attend the dub mix. Sometimes there are multiple sound supervisors on a project and are split up by element. ADR & Dialog Supervisor, for example, only focuses on those two elements.
Sound engineers are responsible for recording new sounds but tn post-production sound, the person is called “mixer” by title.
ADR Mixers are responsible for recording actors in a studio. The actor performs the line while watching it on a screen and the ADR engineer adjusts microphones and watches for sync (how well the new recorded audio matches their lip movements on-screen). In some cases, ADR is recorded without picture (some cartoons, for example).
Foley Mixers are responsible for recording certain non-speaking sounds. The Foley engineer works in a studio with a Foley artist, who makes the sounds while the engineer records it. The Foley team covers sounds such as footsteps, cloth movement, eating, touching or handling objects.
Re-recording mixers combine all the sound elements (dialog, voice-over, sound fx, Foley, and music) into one project. The mixer adjusts the levels of those sounds together (similar to the job of a live sound mixer or a music mixer). Sound mixers may work alone or in teams with each person focusing on different elements. After the re-recording mixers adjust for balance (looking at it technically and creatively), there will be a review with the producer, director, picture editor, or other members of the film crew to listen, give notes, and make adjustments.
Sound assistants or machine room operators prep materials and offer tech support to sound editors, mixers, and engineers.
Scheduling/Operations covers the day-to-day needs of the studio including communicating with clients and staff about schedule, session requirements, and technical or personal needs.
How to get started
Audio for post-production is like most areas of audio; it just an interest in learning and practice to get started. Some schools and college offer courses and degrees specifically for audio post-production (and these can be an excellent introduction), but a degree is not necessary to work in the field. Education in music production or film can also help support a career in audio post.
An internship is a great way to get a broad sense of the field and each job, especially if you can find someone who will mentor and teach you skills. There’s a lot you can learn and practice on your own, as well, such as learning software (like Pro Tools), creating your own sound fx library, or completely removing the sound from a video and recreating it yourself.
Copyright ©2019 April Tucker/ SoundGirls.Org