top of page

What is a Production Sound Mixer?

“If you can actually hear something is wrong and go about fixing it, you are 90% of the way there"

Tony Revell

Starting my journey as a fresh-faced graduate from SAE London, I cut my teeth on two student graduation shorts. Those early experiences taught me the golden rule: capture pristine dialogue no matter the conditions!

This experience wrongfully made me think that I was ready to be a PSM (production sound mixer) and little did I know this fun and challenging journey would take FAR more than I ever expected!

Fast forward two years, and I found myself rubbing shoulders with the industry elite as a member of IPS, BECTU, and soon, AMPS!

Networking with the top Production Sound Mixers was a game-changer for me and it allowed me to reshape my understanding of production sound mixing.

You see, recording audio is just the tip of the iceberg, constituting only about 20% of a sound mixer's job, but if that's the case, what is in that mysterious 80% remaining?

Whilst numbers might vary my research has led me to believe the following:

(in no particular order)

Location Reiki (Recce, or Raikie... yeah I've seen it spelled in many ways): 14%

Sussing out suitable shooting locations with the production team and director is no small feat. Opting for a visually stunning location might seem like a dream, but it could quickly turn into a nightmare if it's sonically challenging, like next to an airport!

Trust me, you don't want to spend ages cleaning up dialogue in post-production!

Costume Department: 15%

Believe it or not, what the talent wears affects how we mic them up. Being clued in on wardrobe choices beforehand is a game-changer. It ensures we're prepared with the right mic placement techniques, saving time and headaches on set.

Gear Prep & KNOWING YOUR KIT: 15%

Being on top of our gear game is non-negotiable. Whether it's reaching out to rental houses for extra equipment or doing thorough equipment checks pre-shoot, being proactive is key to nailing sound recording on set.

Additionally it never hurts to check the equipment a couple of days prior to shooting as this can help you spot potential issues or any missing items!

Networking: 10% (this one HEAVILY depends on how you are as a person*)

Really, on set? Well It's not all about cables and microphones—building relationships across departments is crucial. Being a familiar face on set not only fosters collaboration but also opens doors to future gigs. Plus, who doesn't love it when everyone knows your name?

Making yourself known (in a good way) is one of the best ways to ensure you have a good time whilst working. Don't become that person that people don't want to work with as this will make sure you shorten the life spam of your career!

Yes I'm talking about you Jeff! (Joking)

Learning the Script: 21%

Knowing the script inside out is our secret weapon. Anticipating actors' movements and camera angles ensures we are always in the right place at the right time, boom in hand and ready to roll!

In a nutshell, being a production sound mixer is about more than just capturing dialogue.

It's about creating the perfect sonic environment to capture authentic performances and bring the movie to life.

So, there you have it—a glimpse into my journey as I strive to master the art of sound mixing!

Remember, learning is a journey, not a destination. I'm all ears for your thoughts and feedback so Let's keep the conversation going! 🤺

This Week's Useful Links:

Simon Clark and Stuart Piggot describe how and why they use Dante in their location drama situations.

What's In Your Kit? With Stéphane Bucher CAS, Sound Mixer | URSA Exclusive

Sound On Set with Production Sound Mixer Dan McCoy | Bubblebee Industries

Want to work in sound? Strictly's Sound Supervisor spills the beans

Sound Masterclass with Nick Fry

56 views0 comments


bottom of page