Audio production jobs can be found in any number of industries, which means audio engineers and sound experts are usually in demand. When it comes to film and television, audio producers are responsible for designing, recording, and producing sounds that accompany moving images. If this sounds like the career path for you and you’re ready to learn how to find work in audio production, read on.
- How do I get started as an audio producer or engineer?
- What are good entry-level audio production jobs? What are the differences between those jobs? What should I consider?
- How to choose the right audio production job
- What skills do I need to get an entry-level audio production job?
- How to find and apply for entry-level audio production jobs
- How do I get ahead as an audio producer?
The best audio production jobs for those at the beginning of their crew career are likely freelance gigs. Full-time positions in audio production are generally only available for seasoned professionals with more than a handful of film and TV projects on their résumés. The career path of an audio producer or engineer typically involves amassing experience on a project-by-project basis and skills to move up the production hierarchy.
Getting started in the audio production field can mean following a specialized track, like designing in preproduction or editing in postproduction. However, as is the case with production assistants, a generalized knowledge of how a film or TV set operates is essential for those just starting out.
There are multiple paths to acquiring that knowledge, including assistant work, internships, and volunteering on sets. Formal education is not required, but can provide another path toward a successful audio production career. Bachelor’s degree and graduate school programs in audio production are available for those who dream of eventually working at a major film studio or TV production company in the sound department.
When choosing the area of audio production to pursue in your own career, consider the different roles detailed below:
- Sound designer: From creating sound effects, textures, and background noise to choosing and working with music, a sound designer is one of the more creative roles in audio production. On film and TV sets, they collaborate closely with directors and even actors, and in preproduction, they are often found doing research about the types of sounds a particular project might need.
- Sound mixer: The sound mixer is there to make sure all dialogue, background noise, and other effects are cohesive. Often called a recordist, a sound mixer does for audio what a cinematographer does for visuals, supporting the overall artistic vision in real time. They may also oversee choosing audio equipment and hiring the sound team.
- Sound assistant: Anyone working in audio production may have assistants working under them, particularly the sound mixer. On film sets, sound assistants are there to provide general support like checking on all sound equipment and working with boom operators, especially on difficult shots.
- Sound editor: The sound editor is more active in the postproduction phase of filmmaking, working with edited footage and recorded sounds as a project is on its way to completion. Actors’ automated dialogue replacement (or ADR) falls under their responsibilities, plus any narration, Foley sounds, and music. (Read more about the typical day in the life of a sound editor.)
- Foley artist: As its name suggests, there’s an artistry to this sound production job, which involves capturing all relevant sounds that aren’t actors’ dialogue: footsteps and other bodily movements, sounds that emanate from props, and creating any effects that weren’t captured during shooting.
Especially on bigger film or TV productions, each position named above also has a supervisor role. In order to graduate to that level, experience must be gained in entry-level positions in any or all areas of sound production. The most important ingredient in a sound producer’s career is on-set experience, so any entry-level jobs that enable you to see the work firsthand is crucial.
The skills required for audio producing include many of those associated with any film crew job, like detail-oriented thinking and efficient communication. But it’s also generally one of the most technical roles on a set, so an expertise in all things sound, both analog and digital, is essential. Here are the skills to acquire to become an audio producer:
- Familiarity with audio equipment: Audio producing is a technical job, meaning a familiarity with the most up-to-date technology is required. All kinds of hardware and software, including microphones, fall under an audio engineer’s purview.
- Familiarity with audio software: After creating and recording sounds, it’s equally crucial that an audio producer has competent computer skills. Adobe Audition, Audacity, Logic Pro X, GarageBand, and Ableton Live are just some of the software programs that producers working in various media rely on.
- Collaboration and communication skills: Audio producers, like all members of a film production team, must be in constant communication with collaborators. Learning to organize, prioritize, and deliver information where relevant is necessary.
- The ability to juggle details and deadlines: On a fast-moving film or TV set, audio producing can be a rapidly paced job, requiring both big-picture organization and detail-oriented organizational skills.
- A strong ear: Sound designers, editors, mixers, and all audio engineers must have fine-tuned aural skills and be able to distinguish separate sounds, gauge a space’s acoustics, and hear where audio should be adjusted. If you’re someone with great hearing who picks up on audio details others don’t, a job in audio production might be for you.
- Manual dexterity: Most audio production jobs involve working with one’s hands and require strong hand-eye coordination, whether that’s adjusting levels during recording or making minute edits in software programs.
Freelance audio producing jobs can be found wherever audio is produced; feature and documentary films, short films and web series, television, commercials, audiobooks, podcasts, and even audio tours hire sound experts. The internet is a crucial resource for anyone looking for such work.
- Industry job sites include more specialized search engines and resources specifically for those looking for work in film and television, commercials, radio, or events. Such productions seek audio production services in online marketplaces like Backstage and Mandy.
- Print and online databases like Production Weekly and Production Bulletin are key resources for those looking for film and TV work in particular. These databases are kept up-to-date with what’s filming where, so audio producers can subscribe to keep track of exciting projects’ stages of production.
- Online communities dedicated to facilitating networking between entertainment industry members at all levels often post job opportunities. Check out Staff Me Up or type relevant terms into LinkedIn or Facebook’s search bar to connect with fellow audio enthusiasts or sound professionals.
Consider the following tips when thinking about getting your audio producing career to the next level:
- Build a résumé. In order to apply for audio production jobs on sites like the ones above, you have to have a résumé that includes all of your relevant production information. Any work you’ve done in a sound department or producorial capacity should appear concisely on one or two pages.
- Establish an online presence. A website is a great way for sound producers to display an overview of projects they’ve worked on with audio reels. Maintaining a presence on social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, also legitimizes an aspiring professional. Potential employers will be googling you, so use the power of the internet to establish who you are.
- Network. Connecting with mentors and fellow filmmakers remains the most essential skill in navigating the entertainment industry. Jobs are often the result of who you know. Reach out to professional audio engineer or filmmaker contacts you have, or reach out cold to those you don’t. Keep working your relationship-building skills and professional opportunities will be more likely fall into your lap.
- Produce your own film project. Looking to cut your teeth in filmmaking and familiarize yourself with the process? Teaming up with fellow aspiring artists and producers to create a project from scratch, no matter how small, is a great way to teach yourself the ropes of film audio production.
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