Case study

Sound engineer — Archie

After completing an audio engineering degree at Solent University, Archie followed his passion for research and development to gain employment within audio pre and post-production

How did you get your job?

I applied to DJI GmbH through LinkedIn for a six-month studio internship. Following this, I was offered a full-time sound designer position. I was initially known as a creative specialist, but was soon working in the full role of sound engineer.

During my internship, I was mainly responsible for the storage room with all the production equipment. After some time, I got an opportunity to demonstrate my sound skills by recording sound on location and participating in some audio post-production tasks.

What are your main work activities?

My everyday work is audio post-production for video using Pro Tools. This involves putting different sounds under a video and crafting the sound 'picture', which helps to support the story. I either take sounds from the sound library or record sounds myself (such as breathing, claps, grunts, impacts and gravel sliding).

This work can take place in the studio or outdoors. Sometimes I'll gather sounds in advance, when I know approximately what's needed, as this saves time during post production. Once the sounds are in place, I'll do the mixing, apply automation for volumes and panning and check all channels and plugins for possible clipping (and of course fix it). After the editor has approved it, I bounce the track and do mastering (checking loudness, peaks and true peaks). Finally, I export a single WAV file and submit it to the editor to put it under the video and render the whole film.

What do you enjoy about your job?

It's very creative and sometimes I even compose the music for our videos. I talk to the editors and discuss their feedback after I complete my job. I like that we always discuss how to deliver our creative point of view together, so that sound and video work together and tell the story.

What are the most challenging parts?

There are often tight deadlines and sometimes you need to work late if the project needs to be delivered urgently.

Also, not finding an appropriate sound or piece of music for a video or action, or recovering corrupted or barely usable audio of interviews, can make things difficult.

How relevant is your audio engineering degree to your job?

At Solent University, I studied all aspects of audio - starting from acoustics and ending with audio post-production. The most important thing I gained was an in-depth knowledge of properties of audio and audio post-production editing software (DAWs - Digital Audio Workstation), such as Pro Tools and Adobe Audition.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

At university, I did lots of live event jobs as a mixing engineer. I also spent my free time in the university's recording studios, recording, mixing and mastering my own projects.

Now, as a sound designer, I have learned many new things and have a deeper understanding of the film industry. I participate in shoots and work as a location sound operator during projects. In the studio, I'm responsible for all audio post production. My ambition is to work in the movie industry and mix sound for big-budget cinematic movies. It would be nice to set up my own sound studio one day.

Any advice for aspiring sound designers?

Practice, practice, practice. This is the kind of field where you need to participate in different types of productions, record ideas in the studio and participate as a crew in live events wherever possible. You also need to learn to listen attentively to music and sound.

Learn to plan what you're capable of in terms of time and the job that must be done.

90% of the opportunities I found were only on LinkedIn. I think it's the most powerful tool for finding jobs, so I'd advise others to create a good profile and search on there.

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