Cameraman-tomas-tucker-and-sound-recordist-bill-stefanacci--kqedquest_bannerCameraman Tomas Tucker and Sound Recordist Bill Stefanacci © kqedquest

Sound Recordist

Industries:
High End TV | TV
Personality type:
Engineer
Departments:
Sound

The lowdown

  • Recording sound on location or in a studio, usually in synchronisation with the camera, to enable the highest quality 'real' sound to be recorded at the time of filming

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be a strong team player - many of the skills needed in this role involve working as a team as efficiently and effectively as possible
  • be willing and able to compromise
  • be able to think creatively to solve problems created by particular locations or situations
  • pay close attention to detail and concentrate for long periods
  • have good knowledge of audio equipment and sound technology
  • have knowledge of the television production process, including camera and lighting techniques
  • have knowledge of management and licensing of radio transmission systems
  • have excellent hearing
  • have excellent balance, agility and a good sense of timing
  • have good communication skills, including diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists and crew members
  • be patient, self-disciplined and reliable
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health & safety legislation and procedures

What does a Sound Recordist (TV) do?

Sound Recordists (also known as Production Mixers) record sound on location or in a studio, usually in synchronisation with the camera, to enable the highest quality 'real' sound to be recorded at the time of filming.

They monitor the quality of the sound recording through headphones and work closely with the Director, Boom Operator and sometimes the Sound Editor, often using multiple microphones.

Jobs in sound generally fall into two areas: production sound and post production sound. Sound Recordists/Production Mixers work in production sound.

It is their job to set up talkback communication between production staff, presenters and artists and other communication systems such as 'live' links by landline, microwave link or satellite. They also record sound effects and atmosphere tracks.

Sound Recordists/Production Mixers may work on a wide range of single or multi-camera shoots, and their duties can vary considerably. Depending on the scale of the production, they may work closely with the Director and Producer at the planning stage to clarify technical requirements and budgets.

They are responsible for producing the final sound mix, so they directly supervise the Sound Assistants and Boom Operators. Sometimes, they also manage the rest of the sound crew. They may also occasionally operate the boom themselves. They often have to supervise frontline maintenance in order to keep the production on track.

Will I need a qualification?

You won’t need a qualification to be a TV Sound Recordist. However it is vital to be able to show a strong interest in sound and an understanding of its physical properties.

Courses are available throughout the UK, from HND to degree level in sound technology, audio engineering, acoustics and music recording. 

If you are considering taking a TV production or media technology course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the TV industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a TV career:

TV production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Media technology courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

You will need to develop your skills throughout your career as television sound technology and techniques are constantly changing.

What’s the best route in?

The best way to start your career in sound is to develop and demonstrate an interest in, and enthusiasm for sound. You can do this by exploring, experimenting and learning about audio technology and its capabilities.

Your first steps into the industry will normally be in a trainee role. On-the-job training or shadowing of more experienced personnel is the best way to learn. Experience of working in theatre or the music industry, hospital or community radio would also provide you with a useful background for this role. Alternatively, getting a job with an equipment manufacturer or hire company could also provide valuable experience and training, helping you to learn about sound equipment, make industry contacts and get a foot in the door.

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • The Institute of Broadcast Sound - forum for all audio professionals, including those working in broadcasting production and post production, committed to providing training for its members
  • The Association of Motion Picture Sound (AMPS) - Film and Television Sound Technicians Guild, promotes the science, technology and creative application of all aspects of sound and image recording, reproduction and associated processes
  • The Association of Professional Recording Services (APRS) - promotes the highest standards of professionalism and quality within the audio industry
  • BKSTS - (the moving image society) organises events, courses and demonstrations of new equipment, and publishes Image Technology
  • Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) - develops and provides motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, technology, media and entertainment industries
  • BBC Academy - College of Production - information and advice on the skills required to make engaging TV, including interviews with producers in music, speech, factual and comedy about what it takes to work in TV 
  • BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues

Publications

  • Broadcast - the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and radio industries
  • Televisual - the business magazine for the broadcast and production industry
  • Sight and Sound, publication available through the British Film Institute website

Books

  • Sound for Film and Television - T. Holman - ISBN - 0240804538
  • Sound Assistance - M. Talbot-Smith - ISBN - 0240515722
  • Sound Engineer's Pocket Book - M. Talbot-Smith - ISBN - 0240514068

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