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Spatial Awareness

Hear the field.

Because sound is half the film.

It’s easy to think of film and commercials as a visual medium, but there is a significant amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into an entirely different sensory experience, sound.  A key part of any film, documentary or commercial is the production sound mixer.  They are a major asset in getting the best sound possible.  Not to mention, they can even save time and money for the post-production process.

It all starts in Pre-Production.

The production sound mixer (also called the location sound mixer) is the highest sound position during pre-production and production. They serve as a sound recordist during filming, and are responsible for recording and balancing the audio effects on set. 

The process includes:


  • Choosing what audio equipment to use for the project and providing that equipment.

  • Visiting the shooting locations ahead of time to evaluate any possible sound difficulties, such as  background noise and high wind susceptibility. For example, heavy traffic nearby or extreme weather conditions due to geographic location (wind, rain, crashing waves).

  • Hiring and assembling the sound team, which include boom operators, sound assistants, and even sound trainees.


During film production, the production sound mixer:

   •    Records all sound on set, which include all actors’ dialogue during every take, as well as “wild sound,” (location sounds that the post-production team would want to use in the film or as reference)

   •    Mixes audio in real-time, which means balancing the volume and sound quality to ensure the audio will work properly for the final product.

   •    Evaluates the quality of the audio after every take and can request for retakes as needed.

   •    Sets up and takes down all sound equipment.

Production Sound Mixer Vs. Re-Recording Mixer
There is a second type of sound mixer who works during the post-production phase of filming. This mixer is called the re-recording mixer, and they’re in charge of combining and balancing all dialogue audio with sound effects (both simpler effects produced by the foley artists, and complex, invented effects produced by the sound designers) and music during post-production.

The re-recording mixer is similar to the production sound mixer in that they both determine the proper sound levels for each piece of audio. But where the production sound mixer does this in the field for isolated soundbites, the re-recording mixer balances the sound for the entire film—adjusting dialogue that was filmed at different times and from different distances, deciding when the film score should be emphasized over the sound effects, and so forth.

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