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What are Sound Mixers?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Sound mixers are part of a production crew for motion pictures and television programs that are responsible for ensuring dialogue recorded during filming is suitable for editing and eventual broadcast. Those working in this position are also responsible for capturing the sounds made by objects and events during the performances of actors. While certain sound effects can be added after the initial production, capturing the full range of audio live allows for the proper placement of the effects and also delivers a more reputable sound to the finished product. Production sound mixers are the audio equivalent to the camera operator. A person in this position generally is aided by a team to better accomplish the sometimes rigorous aspects of production.

One important aspect of a sound mixer's job is to provide reference points during the photography of the picture. Using audio cues, such as the famous crack of the scene board, an editor is able to link up a separate audio track with the visuals. This is essential when a sound designer, someone who oversees the final audio quality of the picture, attempts to build the components to the audio track.

The sound mixers will also decide where to place boom microphone equipment and deploy other audio recording devices. To do this, his or her team must have excellent communication skills and need knowledge of electronics devices. Much of the modern recording technique employed by a sound mixer is performed digitally; however, some productions use other methods to record the audio. Occasionally, this is done with recording the audio directly to video tape or digital video mediums. At other times, this is accomplished with separate audio devices, such as digital audio tape.

Usually, a production sound mixer is in charge of his or her own company, employing additional workers as necessary for the motion picture or television project. Generally speaking, a person becomes a sound mixer after a period of training. He or she may need on-the-job training for two years as sound trainee and then work up to sound assistant before sound mixer. After experience is gained as an assistant, the recording technology expert may find work as a boom operator or general utility sound technician before finally working his or her way up to chief sound mixer. This process can take years to accomplish, but the monetary reward can be quite generous, as the job is one of the most important on the set.

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