During the months of January to March I was fortunate enough to get some work experience on a real film set for Birmingham Filmmakers as Sound Assistant. My main role was to operate the Boom Pole and Zoom Mic.
It was a very insightful experience, I’ve never really been sound op before as I tended to stick to camera work throughout university projects but the more I was in control of sound the more I fell in love with that role. It has opened my mind to the possibility of not just limiting myself to camera work or becoming a DoP.
A Sound Engineer makes a salary of £16,000 to £35,000 per year and works variable hours per week. There are no initial requirements to becoming a sound engineer, but some knowledge and passion for sound is essential.
The types of courses that help with experience would be music technology, sound engineering and media production. I have learnt a lot about sound throughout my three years at Coventry University and even more from being on the set of ‘Sustain’ as Sound Assistant.
The skills required for this type of career are as follows:
- excellent hearing
- excellent practical skills
- a high level of attention to detail
- the ability to cope with long hours and tight deadlines
After working on ‘Sustain’ I feel as if these skills have enhanced for myself, I have very close attention to detail when it comes to sound and working 12 hour days has given me the ability to cope with working through being tired and deadlines.
Through more research there are many avenues a person interested in a sound career could take:
- production sound – recording sound on set or location
- post-production – putting the final soundtrack together in an editing studio
On a production sound team, your day-to-day duties may include:
- setting up equipment to suit the acoustics and the sound designer’s instructions
- selecting and placing fixed microphones
- operating the boom (a microphone on a pole, used to get close to the sound source)
- checking sound quality
- recording sound onto digital devices
- servicing and repairing equipment
- playing music or sound effects into a live programme
On a post-production team, your duties may include:
- following a sound designer or sound supervisor’s instructions
- mixing and balancing speech, effects and background music
- editing speech to fit the action on screen
- creating extra sound effects and adding them into the soundtrack
The progression with this chosen career could start from freelance work to working for a large company or a station locally or nationally. The first steps into this role would be taking a trainee position/shadowing someone already in the industry through Creative Skillset I found a ‘Trainee Finder’ program that helps allocate people looking for experience in certain roles in the media industry by helping them with course in all locations and roles. This is something that I’m signing up to and hoping to gain after university a long side any job roles I land.
I looked into Sound Engineer roles as I felt this was crucial to understanding sound itself and how to excel in this career. Mark Linett started his sound career whilst at college by starting his own PA Company. While running the company, he began working with artists such as Seals & Crofts, Sha Na Na, and Livingston Taylor. He later than worked for Warner Bro’s Studio, although he specialises in music sound engineering and has produced many well known tracks. He was also nominated for best engineered album which he recorded and mixed for Brian Wilson who won his first solo Grammy in 2005 for “Best Rock Instrumental Performance” for “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” from his best-selling SMiLE album.
Whilst looking for job roles in Sound there is an abundance of opportunities, most of them located in London which is perfect for me as this is where I aim to end up. A lot of the jobs are positions for candidates with transferable skills such as this role at London Live https://www.indeed.co.uk/viewjob?jk=896888109b0d70ae&q=Sound+Operator&tk=1bci88mf491dhalb&from=web the role includes sound, camera and lighting experience.
“Looking For Film Trainees? – Trainee Finder”. Hiive. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
“Sound Assistant”. Creativeskillset.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
“Studioexpresso – Producer Mark Linett”. Studioexpresso.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
“TV Or Film Sound Technician”. Nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.