Assistant Mix Engineer
The principle responsibility of the assistant mix engineer is to streamline and simplify the primary mix engineer’s workflow. While the assistant is expected to perform many technical tasks, he or she is mostly essential to maintain organization.
An audio post-production studio may have numerous projects in the pipeline at any given time, necessitating that the engineers take on multiple assignments at once. To keep the primary engineer organized, the assistant mix engineer is often tasked with the responsibility of keeping session logs that record information on the tracks completed, version changes, console settings, and other information that is useful as the engineer revisits each project. These logs alleviate time wasted trying to recall exactly where the last session left off or what changes were previously made on a track.
Another timesaving task typically left to the assistant is prepping for each session by loading Pro Tools machines and mix consoles with tracks and the engineer’s presets. When necessary, the assistant mix engineer is usually the individual called upon to make file transfers to clients, print mixes to disc, and similar duties. At the mix engineer’s discretion, the assistant may be given latitude to perform some mixes independently or under the supervision of the primary engineer.
Skills & Education
There are two important competencies for a career in mixing: technical knowledge and a good ear. One, without the other, is insufficient. To train your ear, courses in music theory and music appreciation are beneficial. There is no requirement to actually be a musician, but the experience is helpful. In addition, those interested in any career in the recording industry should take the time to broaden their musical horizons by keeping up with current trends in music of all genres. A college degree in recording arts with a concentration in music post-production can provide the necessary technical knowledge in the use of mixing consoles on software like Pro Tools and also an education in technique. Of course, there is a certain innate talent required to be successful in this career. Mixing a stellar album requires finesse and taste.
What to Expect
Not every studio will employ assistant mix engineers; it is completely dependent on the volume of workflow. However, where assistants are hired, they are expected to come in with a high level of knowledge, if low on experience. These are the practical proving grounds where those looking forward to mixing for major artists come to learn from industry veterans. When you do land your first gig, be patient and humble. Do not expect to be sitting in the big chair your first week, you’ll have to prove yourself and your abilities by first excelling at the basic tasks you’re given. As you demonstrate your growth, you’ll be given more responsibility and input. The level of experience required for an assistant position will vary depending on the particular studio, but roles are generally available to recent graduates and entry-level talent.
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