Audio Post Production Demystified: A Comprehensive Guide For Filmmakers (Part 1)
Updated: May 25
At 344 Audio, we are drawn to sharing knowledge with creatives of all kinds. That's why we have decided to formulate a three part guide to answer the questions that many filmmakers may have regarding Audio Post Production. Today’s focus will be the break down of the job roles and technologies used within our industry.
The Job Roles
Due to budgetary constraints and technological advancements, some of these roles are now blurred within smaller projects. You should still be aware of their existence, and manage your expectations based on the sound team that you can afford:
A Sound Designer is a multi skilled sound professional who gets creatively and technically involved with making sounds to tell a story. On smaller budget projects, the Sound Designer may also be the Dialogue Editor, Sound Editor, Re-recording Mixer, Sound Supervisor and sometimes the Foley Artist.
Dialogue Editors take the Location Sound that is synced up by the picture editor, and work to ensure a constant flow of dialogue without clicks, pops, noise, distortion and discontinuities.
A Sound Editor takes recordings from sound libraries and places them in sync with the picture to help create a seamless flow of continuity and narrative.
Re-recording Mixer/Dubbing Mixer
A Re-recording Mixer takes the audio tracks that the team have created, deciding which elements will remain (in line with the Director's notes) as well as their overall tonal balance, distance perception and technical needs for the final deliverables of the Sound Mix.
Foley Artists perform sounds that would be impractical to create with sound effects and sound design. Examples include footsteps, cloth movement and gun handling. They also add a layer of continuity to your actors performance.
Foley Mixers record the sounds that the Foley Artist creates, giving them feedback on the performance whilst listening for technical issues.
Foley Editors edit the Foley Artist's work, to make it sync with the picture and to assure that it is suitable for mixing by the Re-recording Mixer.
Sound Supervisor/Supervising Sound Editor
A head of department, who often helps with building the Sound Team and overseeing collaboration with the Director and Producers to achieve the best Final Mix possible.
Sound Effects Recordist
A Field Recordist who records custom sound effects for your project, often with high end equipment.
ADR Mixers record ADR (automated dialogue replacement) to replace unusable audio from location. They liase with the Director and Talent to get the best performance and believability out of the recordings.
There are many technologies that the Sound Team will use to help enhance your film, adding flair and interest to the Final Mix.
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
The software that the Sound Team use to perform the majority of their post production tasks. Current industry standards include Avid Pro Tools and Steinberg Nuendo. It is the equivalent of the NLE in picture editing and films will often end up with at least 100 tracks of audio.
Sound Effects Libraries
The Sounds that form the basis of many film soundtracks. Independent Sound Effects Recordists gather, edit and distribute these online. The industry standard formats are 24Bit 48kHz and 24Bit 96kHz WAV. They are usually sold within themes - 'car engines' 'dinosaurs' 'scifi weapons' etc.
A wide variety of specialised microphones are used inside and outside of the studio to achieve the necessary recordings for the production. Some common microphones include the Sennheiser MKH 416, Neumann U87, RODE NTG3.
Field Recorders are used to record and store audio recordings. Some common recorders include the Sound Devices 633, Zoom F8, Sony PCM-D100 And Zoom H6.
This device is used as a bridge between microphones, external equipment and the computer workstation within a studio. Most interfaces have microphone pre amplifiers for recording a range of material. Popular brands include Avid, Focusrite and M-Audio.
High end computer workstations are used to process the multitude of tracks, recordings and software plugins that the Sound Team will use.
A peripheral included in many products or it can be standalone. It amplifies the signal captured by the microphone and determines the noise floor and dynamic range of the recordings.
Control Surface/Mixing Desk
A Control Surface or Mixing Desk is used to balance and control the audio tracks, execute DAW functions and achieve a coherent Final Mix. Common control surfaces include Avid S6 and Digidesign ICON D-Control.
Specialised speakers, that offer a more 'flat' frequency response curve and accuracy than consumer systems, giving the Sound team and Director insights into how the mix really sounds. Popular brands include Genelec, Dynaudio and ADAM Audio.
A device intended for musical use, which can generate electronic sounds defined and sculpted by the user with various parameters.
Software plugins are an extension to the DAW, and usually come in the form of an effect inside of a DAW. Common examples are equalisation and compression. Third party plugins allow various extra features to be implemented to your workflow. Common examples include software for audio restoration, alternative metering, and the ability to use immersive audio formats.
These 'props' are used to perform various character movements. Foley Pits usually contain multiple surfaces that a Foley Artist can walk on to create believable Footstep performances.
Now that you're familiar with the job roles and technology of audio post production, keep an eye out for Part 2 where we'll dive into the full audio post workflow.
If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production: https://www.344audio.com/post/the-ultimate-guide-to-audio-post-production-sound-design