As studio owners, Jeff and I get tons of requests for advice regarding how audio professionals can either kick start or amp up their careers. In an industry that doesn’t necessary post jobs on a website, use recruiters, or have a standard interviewing process, how are talented creative people supposed to get their foot in the door? There are so many different ways to answer these questions, but at least one large chunk of this is personal marketing.
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This past fall, I took part in a panel put together by Soundgirls, and hosted by Sony Studios, called Career Paths in Film and TV Sound. This was a kickass panel with audio professionals from all different backgrounds, with all different backstories and insights, who are at the top of their game. And our careers are just getting started. We talked about what drew us to the sound profession in the first place. We talked about working our way up with unerring drive and determination from the machine room, the tape vault, the intern desk. We talked about staying all night to observe mixers and read manuals. This was a panel about tenacity. And it just happened to be led by women.
We have sound editors coming in to test for us on a regular basis. The single most common difference between an editor who has worked largely alone versus one that has worked within a sound team is the lack of knowledge when it comes to the basics. There are three concepts I consider essential that I ask edit testers about right off the bat: Perspective Cutting, Stair Stepping, Color Coding. I can learn a lot about their familiarity with these concepts based on their response. Even a slight hesitance to answer is a dead giveaway; you’ve only worked alone and without much direction.
We all have technical difficulties from time to time, especially when using software are intricate as ProTools. But, after years of making what seems like every mistake in the book, hanging out on Avid DUC, and stalking Gearslutz.com, I pride myself in my ability to overhear frantic technical freakouts and supply solid advice on the best course of action. Here are a few of the problems I see most often, and and how to get through them while salvaging as much of your work and sanity as possible.
All great editors start out as good editors. The hope is that you evolve as time passes, into an exceptional talent. I have seen it time and again here at Boom Box, often in very short order. An editor with lots of skill and professionalism decides to push for more. These great editors form our core team; the kind of editors you want to keep around. So what’s the secret? Well I’m happy to tell you that going from good sound editor to great sound editor is not that complicated.
Creativity and talent are a huge part of being a professional sound editor. But our talents can only take us so far. I get questions all the time about finding work and have written another post specifically on how best to make this happen. Today however, I want to talk a bit about not just getting work as a sound editor but building a career. Because the way we approach our every day challenges can be just as important as the way we pour our creativity into them.
This is not the sexiest blog post you will read this month. In fact, it’s probably the least sexy topic we’ll write about all year here at Boom Box Post. That said, it’s such an important one for anyone considering themselves a professional sound editor. A cluttered file structure is the equivalent of a messy home. Sure you can make do sorting through a mess, finding what you need after some intense searching. but why put yourself through it? Go to the container store, buy a pack of labels and some bins and get your stuff off the floor (I’m still on the messy house metaphor). So with that in mind, let me be your personal Peter Walsh (he is a professional organizer - I had to google it) as I help you to get your digital life in order.
I have been a sound effects editor and supervising sound editor for a long time now. But, I have recently begun mixing a television series here at Boom Box Post. I am enjoying how much I learn each and every time that I sit down at the board, and am my no means ready to start spouting mixing advice to anyone. But, I can say that I’ve come to appreciate certain editorial practices (and absolutely abhor others!) through my new vantage point as a mixer. Things that I thought of as a nice way to make your mixer happy have turned into practices that are essential to me being able to start my mixing day right. Seriously, these five things can be the difference of hours added to my predub day. So, here are five editorial practices that I’ve realized are absolutely essential to a smooth mix.
We open on wide shot of a forest. A river runs in the distance. Not far from the river, emerging from the trees is a bloodied man in a torn business suit, limping and desperate for water. Cut to an over the shoulder shot of him staring at the river. Cut again and the camera is right on the water as he leans in for a drink. The focus (for our purposes) isn’t the man or his torn and blood soaked suit (I just added that for some flair). From a sound editorial standpoint, the complicated element here is the river. It’s far off in the distance, now it’s close to us, now it’s full frame in an extreme close up. As a viewer, the camera is our proxy here. Wherever the camera sits, so do we. And so, as the perspective of the camera changes so does our perception.
We’ve reached out to our blog readership several times to ask for blog post suggestions. And surprisingly, this blog suggestions has come up every single time. It seems that there’s a lot of confusion about who should be processing what. So, I’m going to attempt to break it down for you. Keep in mind that these are my thoughts on the subject as someone with 12 years of experience as a sound effects editor and supervising sound editor. In writing this, I'm hoping to clarify the general though process behind making the distinction between who should process what. However, if you ever have a specific question on this topic, I would highly encourage you to reach out to your mixer.
In this month's interview post we chat with Mak Kellerman, one of our talented sound effects editors here at Boom Box Post. Mak has worked with Boom Box Post on Future-Worm, Pickle and Peanut, Penn-Zero: Part Time Hero and many other exciting animated shows. Mak is expert at creating interesting sci-fi builds and today he was working on creating the sound of an evil haunted portal!
If you’re a creative working professional, it’s likely you don’t have time for your work-life to be a mess. Co-owning a sound design company, Boom Box Post, I quickly realized that simply skating by with a handful of half baked systems was not going to cut it. I needed help to be sure important threads both creatively and professionally did not get lost. Phone calls to return, projects to review, notes to give, even remembering to stand up (of course there’s an app for that). There's a lot to keep track of and a lot that can get lost.
A quick search in the Mac App Store for ‘productivity’ currently shows 158 results. There are a TON of tools out there to help you try and organize your life. Here are a few tools for Mac, iPhone and iPad with my thoughts on how I’ve used them to make my work life run smoother; leaving more time to focus on the creative.