Film sound professions – Job profiles in film sound
The professional field of creative sound engineering jobs has grown significantly over the years. At the same time, it has seen a differentiation into various professional areas. Thus, profession titles are being used with different meanings and in different contexts.
The term „sound designer“, for instance, can refer to people in the industry who design the sound of breaking crackers or the indicator sound of a sports car for the industry. In film sound, some use the term for the person designing spectacular sound effects, such as the sound of a fictitious lightsaber in a science fiction film. More generally, it refers to the person who acts in dialogue with the production, has a „vision“ of how the film is supposed to sound and supervises the sound crew accordingly.
Similarly, the title „sound mixer“ is also used in different ways by various media segments (PA for music/radio/film/TV) and is not legally protected.
The goal and purpose of these “Job profiles in film sound” is to clarify the terminology and provide an extensive as well as precise description and distinction of the scope of activities of the numerous professions in film sound. To this end, reformulating and updating is necessary: the process of contemporary filmmaking and the digitalisation of working materials have spawned new workflows and hierarchies as well as a shift in creative responsibilities.
As a consequence of these innovations, film sound design can no longer be regarded the job of the sound mixer alone, but is rather carried out by many, often highly specialised film sound professionals according to the respective production phase (shooting-editing-dubbing-mixing).
- Production Sound Mixer (ger: Originaltonmeister*in): Recording production sound during filming phase on set (mostly dialogue).
- Boom operator (ger: Originaltonassistent*in/Tonangler*in): Assistant of the production sound mixer, responsible for microphone placement, microphone installations and technical sound equipment care on set.
- Sound editor/sound designer (ger: Sounddesigner*in, Toneditor*in, Tongestalter*in): design of the audio layer of the film, editing of production sound and audio recordings as well as archive sounds, composition and creation of ambiences and sound effects. On bigger projects (feature film) as sound supervisor there are additional overall responsibilities regarding content and organisation in the film production, creation and communication of the sound concept, selection of team members (on set and post-production), coordination of the workflow.
- Foley artist (ger: Geräuschemacher*in): Creation of non-verbal human or object sound elements performed in sync to picture, as well as sound effects and ambiences if requested.
- ADR-/Foley mixer or recordist (ger: Sprachtonmeister*in/Geräuschtonmeister*in): Dialogue and sound recording in sound studio (field of post-production).
- Re-recording mixer (ger: Mischtonmeister*in): Bringing together all elements of sound editing as a whole, design of the sound narrative, technical responsibilities for the final product.
- Dubbing mixer: (ger: Synchrontonmeister*in) Dialogue recording in sound studio (field of foreign language dubbing).
- Sound engineer (ger: Sendetoningenieur): Responsible for the transmission of sound in television productions (television shows, magazine programmes, sports programmes, cultural events, events in general), in the Live and recording industry, as well as establishing of the technical sound concept, mixing of sound sources, providing the communication infrastructure.
All professions mentioned can be carried out as an employee on a permanent basis or on a freelancer-basis (provider of services with a contract) in studios, in broadcasting agencies and for production companies.