Big picture

Production Sound Crew

The sound department’s main goal besides recording sound is stay out of sight. While they don’t make up half of the production crew, their work is basically half of the final product.

Photo: Nancy Wong

Production Sound Mixer

The production sound mixer’s main job is to monitor the sound as it’s recorded. If anything seems off, some on set mixing will hopefully make the post-production sound team’s life a little less miserable. A good ear for acoustics is required, as well as an understanding of how a space affects the audio characteristics. There’s also the technical knowledge of limiters, compressors and eq’s to provide the cleanest possible recording. This actually can be one of the more important positions on the crew, so if you can afford someone with experience, that will add a lot of value to the production. The production sound mixer will also be able to advise on which microphones will get the best audio for a specific take. A really good production sound mixer can also hear a plane coming from more than a mile away (because the plane is flying higher than that, as members of the Mile High Club know).

Boom Operator

The boom operator is the sound department’s answer to the camera operator. Instead of pointing and shooting, the boom operator needs to point and, well, record. Boom operators will also monitor the sound, though only when they aren’t ruining shots by intruding into the frame or literally casting shadows all over the production. When a boom operator’s work is described as show-stopping, it isn’t a compliment.

Utility Sound Technician

For smaller productions, the utility sound tech should really be renamed the luxury sound tech. Chances are, you won’t have the money for this position. The utility sound tech is basically the PA of the sound team, so read into that as you like. Okay, we’ll spell it out for you: the PA will probably be doing this work whenever it’s needed. If the boom operator wants someone to coil cables or adjust some gear, that’s the utility tech’s job. Okay, here’s a LAV, go put it on that guy over there. What’s that? You know how to repair some of this sound equipment? Oh, well – sorry about all that PA stuff.

The Rest of the Production Team:

Leave a Reply