There are a lot of different types of sound mixers out there: Live Music, Studio Music, Re-Recording, Dubbing. Thankfully, a lot of the time mixers can perform more than one of these jobs. Making room in your budget for a dedicated Re-Recording Mixer will probably do the trick. You’ll want someone who knows Pro-Tools, Logic or Audition, and who also understands the ins and outs of XML and OMF files along with the best practices. If you don’t know what any of those things are, then you’ll definitely want to hire an outside person for this. In fact, you can think of your mixers as the objective listeners for your project, ensuring that all the audio is consistent with the visual components of your story. Of course, if the sound you recorded in production is a total mess, your mixer will probably hate you for the rest of your life. But that’s okay so long as you can all make it through this one project.
The Post-Production Sound Team
Yes, film is a visual medium, but since 1927 we’ve come to expect a sound component too. So while it’s easy to forget about sound in post – I mean, there were enough sound people on set – it’s still pretty important for your overall story to have good sound in your finished product. We’ll say this here hopefully for the last time: nothing is more distracting for an audience than terrible sound quality.
Re-Recording Mixers (Dialogue, VO, ADR)
Foley Artists and Sound Designers
So there’s a good chance your mixer might also moonlight as your project’s sound designer and/or Foley artist. However, these are very distinct roles, so be sure to understand what the differences are. If your mixer is the objective listener, your Foley artist and sound designer are the subjective listeners. Instead of asking if a sound fits the story, sound designers and Foley artists determine what sounds will fit the story. Sometimes this means adding sounds via effects generated from completely random objects. To the ear of the sound designer, the audio portion presents a world of possibilities to enhance the storytelling. The mixer can decide whether those sounds actually make any coherent sense. And since these will probably be the same person on your project, you won’t have to worry about any fistfights erupting between the two – unless your mixer is Sybil Dorsett.
By the way, there’s a difference between re-recording mixers and sound designers.
Composers | Supervisors
Do you have money to hire a composer? Then you need to write a huge thank you letter to your financiers and line producer. And then you also need to make sure to select the right composer. For example, Trent Reznor has a very different style from Randy Newman. No matter how big a deal your composer is, you want the score to actually fit your story’s material and style. Are you able to pay for a music supervisor too? Your production set must have been built on an oil well. For your music supervisor, find someone with a encyclopedic knowledge of music that spans multiple genres and time periods – believe it or not, music history doesn’t begin with Britney Spears and end with Kanye West, as much as he would like for you to think that. On top of that pile of data your music supervisor brings to the table, you’ll also want someone with the legal means to acquire the rights for that kick-ass soundtrack.