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What is a PSC Sound Recordist?

PSC is Short for Portable Single Crew - A basic camera shoot, usually involving just a cameraman and sound person, primarily used in news reporting and documentary filmmaking.

A production sound mixer, location sound recordist, location sound engineer, or simply sound recordist is a member of a film or television crew who is in charge of recording all sound on set during filming or television production using professional audio equipment, either for inclusion in the finished product or for reference by sound designers or sound effects editors. This involves selecting and deploying microphones, selecting recording media, and the real-time mixing of audio signals.

What does a Sound Recordist do?

For a TV show, sound recordists capture all of the sounds on location. From performance to real-life events, this might include talking, song, and action. They put up mics and deal with any placement concerns, thinking about the mic combinations they use – such as boom microphones and hidden 'personal' or 'radio' microphones – to keep the shot and shot size consistent and avoid complications like phasing (time delays) between the mics.

Sound recordists also work around any background noise problems. It's just as essential to make sure you don't record any sounds you don't want as it is to record the ones you do. They listen to see if there's anything wrong with the take and whether it needs to be re-recorded. Sound recordists may frequently record a 'wild track' of genuine background noise that can be utilized in the edit to fill in any gaps in the background ambience generated by editing or added to a scene without drowning out the conversation.

Several sound recordists collaborate with a single sound supervisor on studio productions or large outdoor broadcasts (OBs). Sound recordists will operate with a camera operator on smaller location projects, documenting everything from interviews to group activities while following real occurrences (known as "actuality") or staged events. A producer/director will occasionally record the sound themself in straightforward jobs.

Depending on the kind and budget of the production, the practical obligations of this profession may vary. A sound mixer working on a low-budget television documentary (often referred to as a sound recordist in this context) may be able to perform all of the tasks of a typical sound crew by themselves, including setting up wires, affixing lapel mics, and operating the sole boom mic while mixing on a mobile controller. On the other side, on a big-budget feature picture, the production sound mixer usually works with a large crew, including boom operators, utility sound technicians, cable wranglers, and one or two assistant mixers. Their job entails a combination of supervision and creative leadership, such as assigning minor duties to the crew, such as equipment setup and adjustment, to collect high-quality audio.

Preproduction is where the production sound mixer's task begins. When a production sound mixer is contracted for a specific video project, they must:
  • Choose what audio equipment to use for that particular project, as well as providing that equipment.
  • Visit the filming locations ahead of time to evaluate any potential sound problems, such as excessive background noise. For example, they assess whether there is heavy traffic noise in the area or whether the location is susceptible to high winds.
  • Hire or assembles their team, which usually includes boom operators, sound assistants, and sometimes sound trainees.

During film production, the production sound mixer:
  • Records sound for the film on set. This includes all actors' dialogue during every take and "wild sound," which means any location sounds that the post-production team would want to use in the film or as reference.
  • Mixes audio in real-time, which means they balance the volume and other sound quality to ensure the audio will work for the final product.
  • Evaluates the quality of the audio after every take and asks for retakes as needed.
  • Sets up and takes down all sound equipment.

Who does a sound recordist work with?

Sound recordists work intimately, fitting personal mics and monitoring the sound output on all on-screen talent and contributors. They communicate with all members of the production and crew, especially camera operators and directors. On OBs or studio locations, they report to the sound supervisor and work with the grams operator, sound mixer and sound assistant.

What Is the Difference Between a Production Sound Mixer and a Re-recording Mixer?

A Production Sound mixer works in the post-production stage of filming. During post-production, the re-recording mixer integrates and balances all dialogue audio with sound effects (both simpler effects created by foley artists and complicated, developed sounds created by sound designers) and music.

In the same way that the production sound mixer determines the correct sound levels for each piece of audio, the re-recording mixer does as well. But where the production sound mixer does this in the field for isolated soundbites, the re-recording mixer balances the sound for the entire film—adjusting dialogue that was filmed at different times and from different distances, deciding when the film score should be emphasised over the sound effects, and so forth.

What Are the Skills of a PSC Sound Recordist?

Leading the process of capturing audio on set and location is the production sound mixer, an audio engineer who oversees the production audio crew, mixes and balances the audio as it is recorded. It works to identify and solve the many problems that arise in this field: background noise, echo, distortion, and flubbed, etc.

Because the production sound mixer is the most senior member of the sound crew, substantial expertise and experience with sound devices and recording is required, most production sound mixers begin their careers as members of the sound team's entry-level positions, such as manning the boom mic or working as a production assistant or sound trainee.

What's a sound recordist good at?

have great people skills, put contributors at ease when fitting personal mics, and be able to collaborate effectively with other team members to ensure the sound fits with the visuals.

Problem-solving: be imaginative and creative in your approach to tackling technological issues and recording hurdles.

Technical skills: be able to operate, maintain, and repair sound equipment, as well as stay current and implement new ideas.

Scientific knowledge: understand the physics of sound, the qualities it possesses, what can affect it, how to manipulate it.

Knowledge of the production and post-production process: understand all crew roles and aspects of how an unscripted TV programme is made from pre- through to post-production.

What equipment does a sound recordist use?

Usually, the sound recordist will arrive on location with their own equipment, which generally includes microphones, radio systems, booms, mixing desk, audio storage, headphones, cables, tools, and paper or computer sound logs.

Why Hire a PSC Sound Recordist?

The Importance of Hiring a great Sound Recordist

Although people tend to identify film and television with visual storytelling, the sound is just as vital in these mediums. The production sound mixer, an audio engineer who oversees the production audio crew, mixes and balances the audio as it is recorded, and works to identify and solve the many problems that arise in this field, such as background noise, echo, distortion, and flubbed lines, to name a few, is in charge of capturing audio on set and on location. Every situation is unique and takes a different strategy to capture clean, high-quality audio.

The Working Day of a Sound Recordist

The recordist will usually arrive on location with their own gear, typically comprising microphones, radio systems, booms, a mixing desk, audio storage, headphones, connections, tools, and either paper or computer sound logs. On location, the recordist may be expected to capture a wide range of unusual sounds. They must also consider the format of the final result (mono, stereo or multi-channel). Automatic conversation replacement combines the recorded production soundtrack with other elements like effects, music, narration, foley, or re-recorded speech (ADR).

When taping video, the sound recordist will often record (single system) audio directly onto the camera rather than using a separate medium (double system). However, a separate copy is frequently made, as it both provides an extra copy with more tracks and may also include sound captured outside the camera.

The sound mixer is considered a department head and is thus entirely responsible for all aspects of sound production, including hiring a boom operator and utility sound technician, planning the technical setup involving sound, including both sound equipment and ancillary devices involved in syncing and time offsets, anticipating and discussing sound-related problems with the rest of the crew, and ordering and preparing the sound equipment to be used on set.

Services a PSC Sound Recordist can offer you:

  • Location Sound Recording
  • Computer Graphics and Film Sound Design
  • Post-Production Audio Editing and Mixing
  • Dialogue Cleaning and Enhancement
  • Audio Repair and Restoration
  •  Noise Reduction
  • Live Sound
  • Binaural Recordings

How much does it cost to hire a PSC Sound Recordist?

A variety of factors influences the cost of hiring a PSC Sound Recordist. The equipment used, the length of time they're recording sound, and your requirements will all have an impact on how much you pay. Sab Members charges follow BECTU guidelines and APA on commercial projects. Please discuss costs directly with the members.

Why Choose The Sab Network to hire your PSC Sound Recordist?

The Sab Network is the place to go if you're looking for an award-winning team that has proven to be loyal, trustworthy, and experienced. The Sab Network is a referral-only network of experts in various industries who can assist you with all of your production needs.
Because they're already trustworthy, experienced, and brilliant, bookers don't have to wade through CVs seeking for it. It gives you confidence in their ability to do the assignment.

We appreciate how difficult it is to locate suitable people who can match the needs of our clients. Our goal is to assist you in achieving your goals! 

Sab Network Sound Recordists have proved themselves working with some of the biggest production companies, broadcasters and corporations both here in the UK and abroad. 

Please get in touch with us if you have any queries about how The Sab Network works or would like to discuss any element of hiring freelancers.