I received lots of good feedback on twitter on the Editor You Never Want To Let Go post. Here's the next one in this series of people you never want to lose: On set audio people.
In all my projects (over 200) I've only worked with one female audio engineer and the rest were males. I'm not entirely sure about why that is. My guess is that some jobs require booming which can be physically challenging.
If you are a female audio person, chime in and let me know how you started so we can get more of you in the industry.
So here we go. Top ten qualities of an audio engineer.
- He smells good. Clean breath and no BO. Yes, you read that right. Audio people have to get very close to the talent. They have to attach a tiny microphone on someone's lapel. If you smell bad, then that's going to effect my talent somehow and probably negatively.
- He looks like his mother would be proud of him. Have you ever asked a female talent who is wearing a blouse to string a mic up her shirt. If you look like a bum, the whole thing gets awkward.
- He knows that the cans on his head are not the way the audience will hear what he's hearing. The best audio people will ask how is the tape is being used? Will there be music? Will it play over a loud speaker or on the web? With the information in hand, a good audio person will edit in his mind what ambient distractions are worth doing a re-take for and what can slide by.
- He's discreet. The audio guy will be the first person to know if something doesn't sound right. I appreciate engineers who can pull me aside or find the right moment to say, "Hey, something didn't sound right on that last take." The wrong way to do it is to whip off your cans and shout, "That one sucked, people!"
- He treats his equipment like a newborn.
- He's great with figuring stuff out. The best audio people that I've worked with, I like to imagine, have at some point in their childhoods, took apart radios, computers and other electronics just to see how they worked. They also had the brains to put it all back together.
- He's a team player. Yes, sound is their domain. But the guy you want, pitches in after he's all set up. He's putting tone down in the camera. He's taping cords to the floor. He's tested his feed and checked playback.
- He has no ego. Great sound people love to support. It's in their blood. They are essential, yet the great ones blend in as just a part of the crew.
- He's slightly crazy. Yes, to be in love with sound and sound alone - you have to be a little nuts. They know more about audio than you'll ever want to know. And that's a good thing.
- A great audio guy reminds you to get room tone before the talent has left the room.
Tell me about your audio engineer...
Photo credits: Rusty Sheriff creative commons license.