Question about official job-titles for "sound guy"

I always feel so silly typing "sound guy", when I don't know what else to type. Can we forever nix that word? After all, we don't call the gaffer the "light guy", do we?

The very few official titles I know, regarding sound, and their definitions, as I understand them (any necessary corrections are appreciated):

Boom-operator - definition self-explanatory
Sound designer - in post, does audio mixing, as well as adding foley and effects
Score - original music written for movie
Sountrack - pre-existing music, mixed into movie
Musical editor - definition self-explanatory
Foley artist - makes noises to match what is happening on-screen

That's it. That's all I've got. What am I missing?

And what about the proverbial "sound guy"? What should we call that person? Presumably, the "sound guy", on a low-budget production, might be doing both booming and recording. Or, perhaps they are just recording, with someone else booming. In either situation, what's the proper title for "sound guy"?
 
Hey Cracker.

Here's what we call the peeps and the way I like to work it. There are far more jobs and titles but below are the basics. If you have any further questions about a specific hat then let me know and I'll expound upon them - but this is for starters:

When a movie gets put together, one of the first people to be hired by the Producer / Director / what-have-you, would be the Sound Designer. This is the person ultimately responsible for how the soundtrack will sound. He's hired from the Pre-Production process on because depending on how much power you flow him he can have a substantial influence on the movie's soundtrack and even the shooting script. He usually has input on which dialogue recording team is used and which editing team and mixing team is used. Noticed how all three Lord of the Rings movies were mixed by the same team? Then King Kong had the exact same team? Or David Fincher's movies are using the same Sound Designer and mixing team? The list goes on... Tarantino, Burton, Pixar, etc. They use who does a good job. And they like working for directors who know the importance of sound and the process. It's an invisible art, so not too many moviegoers know much about it, but it's necessary to the success of the film. So, the Sound Designer can even have influence over the picture edit if they have that power delineated to them, and I strive for that because it's such a rewarding experience when everyone can contribute and enhance the film's effectiveness. I hate it when it's like this: "The picture edit is done. Put sound to it and it's done". It shouldn't be that way and which is what I've spent a lot of time here trying to teach. For example, I've gone to Post Production VFX houses to give my input on primitive animatics and such of monsters or CGI characters because I coordinated with them to put more saliva in their mouth or put more sliminess on characters which I could edit those sounds to to create a more effective and realistic character. Another classic example I have beaten like a dead horse is from "No Country for Old Men" where the main villain has a beeping tracking device. You don't see the character in some scenes and you only hear his beeping device - this is Sound Design at it's best - utilizing sound alone to alter camera angles and story plots. I mean, who wasn't on the edge of their seat when the villain walks up to the closed hotel room door when Josh Brolin was waiting on his bed with a gun? All you heard was his beeping tracking device but it was so suspenseful because you knew he was right outside the hotel room door... Classic... The sound of a film influenced the script. That's why I like getting the sound designer involved early in the process. Sound Design encompasses so many things it's really hard to put it all down in one concise statement - it's extremely wide in scope and has taken me 9 years to get merely barely acquainted with the subject. I'll probably never stop learning it.

Production Sound Mixer - Person who takes and records the production dialogue on set. He's called a "mixer" because in the old days, there were limited amounts of tracks you could record to, so if you had more mics than there were tracks, you'd have to mix them together (like 2 mics onto 1 channel) and when one person wasn't talking, you'd mute or turn down their mic so there wasn't bleed. This process has been done away with on my gigs because I make sure there are more than enough tracks to record each mic separately. I simply don't want to not have my production dialogue not separated when I go to edit. The Production Mixer is responsible for getting clean isolated recordings of the actors on the day as well as a stereo mix of all the voices (wether it's real-time during the shoot or that night) so the editing team has something to work with in the Avid.

Boom Op - Works under the Production Mixer. It's extremely important for them to work as a team and communicate. We usually have a comm link between them on the set. And we usually have about 3 Boom Ops per shoot depending on coverage and what we need. On a 5 camera shoot I did there were 5 boom ops - most I've ever seen. But in a movie such as Dark Knight where you've got Batman speaking to the Joker, it's usual to see 2 boom ops catching Batman and Joker's dialogue separately.

Supervising Sound Editor - Person responsible for gathering a team of dialogue editors, SFX editors, ADR recordists / mixers / editors, and getting the dialogue and sound effects edited to picture and conformed to picture edits. It varies from project to project who is "senior", the Sound Designer or Supervising Sound Editor, and sometimes both jobs are done by one person.

- Dialogue Editor: Takes the production dialogue and cleans it up best he can. He usually has to sift through all the other takes (which on a David Fincher film could be upwards to about 60 takes of the same dialogue lines) and replace words which are unclear or have the inflection the director wants. Like David would say "I want shot 20 and dialogue from shot 15 because it's better" and the dialogue editor has to cut it in and match it to the screen.

- SFX Editor: In the old days, this person was only responsible for taking the sounds pulled by the Supervising Sound Editor or Sound Designer and syncing it to picture. Nowadays, this job could entail even premixing or mixing SFX as he cuts it because of the advances in digital audio editing technology.

- ADR Recordist: Brings actors into a quiet environment to re-record their lines to either replace unusable dialogue (wind machines or external noise was too great on the day) or to clear up story progression or clarify plot points. The best ADR Recordist I have ever seen is Doc Kane who works for Disney but he's so sought after that he does many top actor's ADR and works on many many many projects. Check out his IMDB. The man is amazing. This job is also sometimes called ADR Mixer, but this just means that he does the same thing but the recordist has more than 1 mic and he's "mixing" the two mics (kind of like how the title Production Mixer is used). ADR also doesn't have to take place within a booth or indoor studio. I'm right now coordinating an outdoors area next to an ADR stage on a production lot to be built with recording capability because sometimes you just can't get ADR from a booth to match an outdoors recording - I don't care who you are - I will always hear a difference. It's those little details the ADR recordist has to be attentive to and what makes him so high in demand if he does his job correctly and properly - otherwise, when he does his job incorrectly that's when you have kids in gradeschool mimicing bad ADR and out of sync dialogue lines from a movie.

- SFX Recordist / Field Recordist: A job which entails going to exotic locales and out into the world or "field" as they call it to gather custom sound effects. To me, a soundtrack is like a salad. If you're putting together your salad with bland, store-bought GMO lettuce and ingredients, it's not going to taste as good as using home-grown, fresh vegetables from the garden. Same thing with soundtracks - using cliche store-bought SFX libraries will make your film sound bleh but new, fresh, custom SFX you record yourself is ideal to getting a realistic, nice sounding believable soundtrack.

- Foley Artist: Just as you describe but it goes further. This person has the responsibility to channel the emotion of the characters on screen and make their movements and contacts with the universe around them realistic and convincing to the audience. He's usually wound up by the director or supervising sound editor and just goes like a wind-up toy, recording an effect for each and every point of contact of clothing or shoes of the characters, but it has to be delineated before the Foley recordist/editors start working and the editors start pulling FX so they are coordinated on who is responsible for what. Usually, Gunshots are given to one recording/editing team, cloth to a team, footsteps to a team, gun foley to a team, etc. if the movie is really complex.

Scoring Mixer - Sees to the recording and mixing of the score of the film. Works with the composer and puts the composer's music on tape and premixed in a manageable form for the final mix of the film. The scoring mixer usually doesn't accompany the final mix and his tracks are handed off to a music re-recording mixer on a mixing stage elsewhere but sometimes he follows through the whole mixing process until final release. And, depending on the budget and breadth of work, he can have his own full team of recordists and editors who edit the music to conform to picture edits, put music to DVD menus, etc. etc. etc. It's really limitless.

Re-Recording Mixers - The mixers of your film after it's edited and going to final mix. They usually spend 3 months premixing your film and another 3 or 4 weeks finalling. There is usually one for Music, one for SFX, and one for Dialogue, hence the 3 people you usually see at the mixboard. The Dialogue mixer is usually the senior mixer. But this varies heavily depending on budget. You could just have one mixer doing everything on a film and mix it in 2 weeks and you're done, but on a film like Avatar there are 3 mixers working full-time or about 8 months. The reason why they're called "re-recording mixers" is because they took recorded material (like music and dialogue) and re-recorded that material onto the final presentation medium - like mag film or 5.1 tracks to be duplicated for release. The name has stuck.

During the mix of a film, the Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor is always present and coordinates with the mixers and they bat ideas back and forth with each other. And, the director usually comes down to give ideas or sometimes he's always there on the stage, depends on how much he trusts the mixing team. If any edits or re-designs are needed, the Sound Designer and SSE send it back immediately to their respective editing teams for handling and thus a film's soundtrack is realized.

Let me know if you have more questions.
 
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Production Sound Mixer - responsible for capturing the sound on-set.

Boom-Op - responsible for swinging the boom, assisting the Production Sound Mixer, boom mic selection and assisting the PSM with "wiring up" performers with lavs and wireless transmitters.

Sound Assistant or Cable Wrangler - a general production sound audio "gofer".

Supervising Sound Editor - responsible for the management of the audio post production process.

Sound Designer - slightly different than the Supervising Sound Editor; responsible for the overall sonic tone of a film, similar to the way a cinematographer is responsible for the "look" of a film.

Sound Effects Editor - selects/builds and places sound effects.

Sound Effects Recordist - goes into the field to record sound effects.

Foley Walker/Artist/Performer - physically manipulates props to create sounds live to picture.

Foley Mixer - records the Foley performance(s).

Foley Editor - cleans up and selects from the Foley performances.

Dialog Editor - selects audio from alternate takes (if necessary), cleans up and places (onto tracks by character) the production dialog.

ADR Mixer - records the ADR performances

ADR Editor - selects, cleans up and places (onto tracks by character) the ADR takes.

Data Wrangler/Librarian - organizes, logs and consolidates all of the audio and audio sessions. Also responsible for the sound effects library including metadata.

ReRecording Mixer - responsible for the final mix of the film.


I may have missed a few...
 
Hi Cracker! Good to see you, too! I've been extremely busy - Christmas is a big season for movie releases ;)

Alcove! Would it be pretentious of me to say: Great minds think alike? :P

@Cracker: Re-read my post - I've revised my post like 20 times!
 
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Also, ROC, I'll have you know that while the audio in "Antihero" is definitely it's weakest point, I did record a great deal of ADR, only to re-record it, because I thought it would sound better if we took the ADR recording-session outside. And it did!

"Antihero" was a huge learning-experience for me, audio-wise, and the main lesson I learned is that I can't wait to hire someone to do this for me! :D That being said, in my opinion, the best audio we got, in the entire movie, was actually the ADR we did in a freaking parking lot!
 
That's great, man.

Make sure you get Alcove or my approval on whoever you hire for your next film. ;)

I don't want to see another one of those "DON'T HIRE THIS GUY" posts here. They're lame.

@Uranium City Please check your PMs. :)
 
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@ alcove and ROC. I've got a project coming up that will require a basic team for a drama. Likely a mini feature suitable for a film festival. Can you lay out a basic team for me. We will do a fair amount of field work maybe even 80% where a constant power source will be inaccessible.
 
Roc has nailed it pretty accurately, I'm impressed! I'll just pick up on a couple of minor points though:

ADR Recordist: ...This job is also sometimes called ADR Mixer, but this just means that he does the same thing but the recordist has more than 1 mic and he's "mixing" the two mics (kind of like how the title Production Mixer is used).
Maybe I've just misinterpreted what you have written but as a general rule one would NEVER mix two mic's together. It's not uncommon to also have an ADR Supervisor. The logistics of ADR on big films can get pretty complex, especially as the actors are often on different continents by the time ADR recording is required. This often means a number of different studios sync'ed up via ISDN lines at different times and various ADR recordists. There is also a modern trend to try and record ADR on set at the end of the day after the actual filming. It's a bit tricky from the point of view of having the equipment on set and the Sound Designer to decide what dialogue needs ADR'ing. The advantage though is having the actors easily available, still in costume and still in character. The end result is time/money saved, a more convincing ADR performance from the actors and ADR which more closely matches the sound/acoustics of the original production sound.

Although usually recorded and edited by the ADR team/s, it's also quite common to have a sub-team which is sometimes referred to as the "Loop Group" who perform all the custom walla, group reactions, etc.

Re-Recording Mixers - The mixers of your film after it's edited and going to final mix. They usually spend 3 months premixing your film and another 3 or 4 weeks finalling. There is usually one for Music, one for SFX, and one for Dialogue, hence the 3 people you usually see at the mixboard... You could just have one mixer doing everything on a film and mix it in 2 weeks and you're done, but on a film like Avatar there are 3 mixers working full-time or about 8 months.
Note that in the UK, the term "Dubbing Mixer" is often more commonly used than "Re-recording Mixer".

To be honest, I've never heard of a film taking 8 months to pre-mix/mix, although I don't know the specifics of Avatar. If the pre-mixing/mixing took 8 months then the recording/editing must have taken 3 or 4 months, so that would have meant a year in total of audio post! For big blockbusters 5 months or so is usually the maximum time allocated to audio post, with a more modestly budgeted 90 min feature (millions rather than hundreds of millions) 3-4 months would be more normal. Final mixing is usually calculated at about half a reel (AB reel) per day, up to a reel per day for a low budget film. As Roc stated though, this can vary considerably depending on the genre of the film and the delivery formats required. It's not uncommon for the big films to have to create a Dolby Atmos or Auro 3D mix plus a 7.1 and a 5.1 mix. When all this is finished another 5.1 mix will usually be created for consumer format release (DVD/BluRay). Very loosely, 4-6 weeks would usually be the max for pre-mixing and 2-3 weeks for final mixing, with films budgeted in the low millions these times are very roughly halved.

Also worth noting is that the SFX department is frequently divided into a number of sub-departments. Most obviously are the SFX and Foley teams but then the remaining SFX "team" is often sub-divided further into a Hard Effects team and a Backgrounds/Ambiances team. In action films, weapons fire (guns, cannons, explosions, etc.) are often (but not always) another SFX team again. Bare in mind that the audio post department for a blockbuster could easily comprise 50 audio pros and could be as many as 70, divided into 6 or 8 separate teams. Lower budget films (in the millions) would again likely be half this number. With so many different audio post teams and personnel, organization and management of audio post is a major task, so much so that the Supervising Sound Editor may in fact end up spending all their time organising/managing/supervising rather than actually editing anything!

As Roc also mentioned, it's not uncommon on some pictures for the Sound Designer to also take the role of Supervising Sound Editor. In this case, another modern trend I've started seeing in the past couple of years or so, is for the job title "Supervising Sound Designer" to be used.

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