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What is a Sound Assistant?

A sound assistant works with production sound crew in recording studios, on location or at live events to help them achieve their vision for sound production. They are responsible for capturing all of the sounds that make up the audio, from dialogue to instruments and effects. A good sound assistant will also know how to mix multiple sounds together to create one cohesive track/audio record.

Also known as - Sound Technician, Floor Sound Assistant, Sound Floor Operator.

What is the role of a Sound Assistant on Set?

Sound assistants help the sound recordist by ensuring that the entire sound recording process runs smoothly and safely and providing general support to the sound crew. They unload and set up sound and PA equipment. At the end of the day, they de-rig and reload. Mics and cables are placed in effective, safe locations, and carpet is frequently laid to prevent unwanted noise from being picked up from the floor.

They are the third and final member of the Production Sound Crew, and they assist the Production Sound Mixer and Boom Operator. The Sound Assistant is in charge of assessing equipment, microphones, and batteries to verify that they are all in good working order and ensuring that the sound department runs as efficiently as possible.

Depending on the production, sound assistant responsibilities might range in seniority. This is the entry-level role in many productions. Replace and change batteries, secure and monitor cabling, and make teas and coffees are among sound assistants’ duties. Sound assistants with a bit more experience are necessary to monitor sound and capture background sound using a boom on some productions.

A Sound Assistant may be needed on certain large scale productions when a second Boom Operator is required. They'll record off-camera lines of dialogue that happen while characters who aren't visible on-screen are speaking. The Sound Assistant is usually employed on a freelance basis by the Production Sound Mixer.

If there is any undesirable noise, sound assistants must address it as soon as possible, communicating tactfully with whoever is generating the noise so that the shoot is not disrupted. They make sure that all sound media has been labelled and that any sound paperwork has been delivered to the production office at the end of the day.

What are the skills of a Sound Assistant?

As they work closely with the production sound crew members, the Sound Assistant must have excellent communication skills and a drive to assist others. Meticulous attention to detail is required to guarantee that equipment is correctly handled, maintained, and in good working order. To assist the rest of the crew on set, they must have a solid working knowledge of microphones and sound equipment.

These are some of the additional skills they should have:
  • Interest in, and knowledge of, broadcast and recorded sound
  • Technical ability in operating sound equipment
  • Dexterity and agility in handling sound equipment
  • Physical fitness as work in the sound department, for example operating a boom, can be physically demanding
  • Good aural and critical listening skills in order to assess the audio quality
  • Creativity
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills to build strong working relationships within the sound team and with members of the broader production team
  • The ability to work well as part of a team and a collaborative approach to programme making
  • The ability to use your initiative
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • A good sense of timing and swift reactions
  • A flexible approach to work and a positive attitude to the changing nature of production
  • The ability to accept criticism and constructive feedback
  • The ability to work well under pressure and to deadlines
  • Persistence and determination.
  • Working knowledge of health and safety requirements on set.

The Responsibilities of a Sound Assistant may vary

As a sound technician, their responsibilities will vary depending on whether they work in:

  • Production - the recording of all sound on set or on location
  • Post-production - the balancing, mixing, editing and enhancing of pre-recorded audio

Working in production, you'll need to:

  • Assess the acoustics of the performance area as directed by the sound supervisor
  • Select, position, adjust and operate sound equipment, such as booms, fishing rods and microphones, used for amplification and recording
  • Communicate with production staff and performers to determine the sound requirements
  • Apply technical knowledge of sound recording equipment to achieve the determined artistic objectives
  • Record sound onto digital audio tape or hard disk recorders
  • Monitor audio signals to detect sound-quality deviations or malfunctions
  • Anticipate and correct any faults
  • Maintain and repair sound equipment
  • Comply with all relevant health and safety legislation.

Working in post-production, you'll need to:

  • Integrate (synchronise) pre-recorded audio (dialogue, sound effects and music) with visual content
  • Re-record and synchronise audio (post-syncing)
  • Mix, edit and balance speech, effects and music
  • Create and alter sound effects for use in films, television, etc.

They'll usually work in sound teams for large-scale operations like film productions. Production and post-production sound teams are frequently separated. A sound assistant’s primary responsibility is to follow or interpret the director's, sound designer's, or sound supervisor's directions.

They'll have to communicate with different departments on set, including art, camera, costume, lighting, and locations.

What is a Sound Assistant good at?

  • Technical knowledge: having a complete understanding of sound equipment, how it functions, and what is required to keep it in good working order.
  • Attention to detail: be meticulous with the packing, unpacking and maintenance of equipment and the handling and storing of recorded material.
  • Resourcefulness: anticipate crew needs before they are expressed, devise creative solutions to technical issues, and overcome recording hurdles.
  • Learning through observation and questioning: be able to observe what's going on and ask pertinent questions at the appropriate times.
  • Knowledge of health and safety: ensuring that you function safely in public and studio spaces and that you manage cables and equipment.
  • Communication: work well with both crew and program contributors, collaborate efficiently and clearly with other sound team members and crew across the entire production and handle external noise issues with tact and diplomacy.

Who does a Sound Assistant work with?

Sound assistants report to the sound supervisor or sound operator, depending on the shot type, and will regularly communicate with the rest of the technical crew and the production team during filming.

The Sound Assistant will attach microphones to actors' clothing as needed. They may communicate with the Boom Operator to distribute cables throughout the studio floor so that sound recording equipment is in an appropriate location, working closely with the Production Sound Mixer.

The Sound Assistant is in charge of packaging and labelling all sound output with suitable sound rushes to be forwarded to editing at the end of each shooting day. They work until the end of the production day, and then they make sure that all of the equipment is correctly stored for transportation back to the studio.

On the first day of the shoot, the Sound Assistant reports to work to assist the rest of the Sound Crew. They usually arrive at least 30 minutes before call time to ensure that the Sound van is unloaded and that all equipment is checked and ready for the shoot. The Sound Assistant will go through all of the sound equipment set up with the Boom Operator to ensure it's all working properly.

In addition to the responsibilities mentioned above, the Sound Assistant serves as the sound crew's go-to person for coffee and tea production and assists with additional jobs, including cleanup and packaging of all sound equipment on set. On large-scale projects, Sound Assistants may operate a second boom if necessary. Most sound trainees will shadow the Production Sound Mixer to learn the ropes and eventually take on a similar role after gaining vital work experience.

Why Hire a Sound Assistant?

A Sound Assistant performs various tasks and can help bring your vision to life. Take the following into consideration next time you’re interested in hiring a freelance sound assistant.

They'll identify the sound requirements for a given task or situation and perform the appropriate actions to produce this sound.

Sound assistants support the sound recordist to ensure that the entire sound recording process goes smoothly and efficiently and provide general support to the sound crew. They set up sound equipment and PA systems after unloading them. After the day's work, they de-rig and reload.

Sound assistants are essential members of all types of audio engineering teams. Sound assistants are in charge of maintaining recording equipment and assembling and arranging it in the best possible way. They're also crucial for on-set safety, as they keep cables tucked out of the way, reducing trips and falls. You'll need to be able to rely on a dependable, professional sound technician for a successful video shoot.

Sound Assistants are needed in a variety of fields, including:

  • Advertising
  • Audio recordings
  • Music production
  • Broadcasting (radio or television)
  • Film
  • Live performance (theatre, music, dance).

What's the Cost of Hiring a sound Assistant?

Their rate depends on the specific function and type of production.

Sab Network Sound Assistants charges are in line with BECTU rate guidelines and APA for commercial projects.

Why Choose The Sab Network to hire your Sound Assistant?

If you're searching for an award-winning team that has proven to be loyal, trustworthy, and competent, the Sab Network is the place to go. The Sab Network is a referral-only network of industry specialists who can help you with all of your production requirements.

Customers don't have to sift through CVs looking for the best professional because our Freelancers are trustworthy, experienced, and excellent. This pre-selection will give you confidence in their capacity to do the task.

We understand how hard it is to find skilled staff who can meet our customers' expectations. Our purpose is to help you achieve your objectives! 

Our Assistants have experience working for the best production companies, TV broadcasters and corporations.

If you have any questions about how The Sab Network operates or would like to discuss any aspect of employing freelancers, please contact us.