Supervising Sound Editor

  • Supervising Sound Editor

The supervising sound editor is a department head who oversees the entire post-production sound crew, including the music editor, sound editor, Foley artist, and ADR editor. He or she is ultimately responsible for the completion and quality of all sound editing, and answers to the producer and director.


Duties

On low-budget productions, the supervising sound editor may not be hired until the final picture edit of the show has been approved, in which case he or she is therefore responsible for most of the physical sound editing, re-recording, and mixing. This type of gig involves a much smaller crew; generally, the supervising sound editor will have only one or two additional pairs of hands. Medium- or big-budget productions typically bring the supervising sound editor on board during pre-production, where he or she is heavily involved in the creative planning process and is given ample time to hire and prep a large crew of specialists. The supervising sound editor is always responsible for planning and monitoring the post-production sound budget, securing equipment rental, scheduling staff, and establishing the workflow of the department.

At spotting sessions (where the final picture edit is reviewed before completed audio track), the supervising sound editor will confer with the director and producer to gain a greater understanding of their creative objective for the sound of the film, discuss ideas and special effects, and take notes on ADR or Foley that must be added. Following this session, the supervising sound editor assigns his or her crew to the tasks necessary for completing the show’s audio track: recording new dialogue, creating sound effects, etc. This person is hands-on with the crew to guide their work and ensure adherence to the director and sound designer’s intent. Major studio releases will typically go through a short preview-screening period, after which it is common for additional picture and sound edits to take place. The supervising sound editor will therefore oversee the final mix process until the product receives approval from the producers and studio executives.

Skills & Education

A formal education in film and television production with an emphasis on post-production sound editing is highly recommended, and further education in sound recording, music editing, Foley, dubbing, and related specialties is encouraged. Proficiency in both the creative and technical areas of audio production is necessary. Additionally, the supervising sound editor must be detail-oriented and organized, an effective leader and an excellent communicator. He or she should have the experience necessary to accurately estimate labor hours and costs in order to provide precise budgets for each project.

What to Expect

In some instances, the sound designer, depending on the production and preference of the producer and director, may perform the supervising sound editor’s role. The path toward this career begins as a union trainee or non-union intern in the post-production sound department of a film or television show. Depending on the size of the production, every film or television show is allowed to have one apprentice in each department. This work is usually unpaid, but not uncompensated: Offering your services for free is an excellent way to gain experience. From there, taking any role within post-production is a benefit to your career aspirations. However, you should identify as early as possible which areas of the post process interest you most. Employment opportunities are available for supervising sound editors within a post-production studio or as a freelance technician.

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