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What should students know?


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Hi All, 


I've had the privilege of knowing, meeting and working with many of you over the years and while I may have been rolling MOS for a couple of years now I'm happy to say I'm back as an Engineer for a University Television and Film program. One of the largest discussions along with proper rates, working the job appropriate for the experience and "learning the ropes" I hear is wanting the green ears to know what they're doing. It seems the days of apprentices have passed and in the modern era of YouTube vlog stars where even you can get great production in the comfort of your own home we've lost learning the basics.


I'm here to ask you as someone on the front lines with what I hope to be an influence on those rolling behind you, what do you want students to learn and how can they best help support you so that everyone gets work, you continue to be fairly compensated for your experience and time, and heck maybe even someday you can hang up the cans and retire on a beach knowing you'll still have good media to listen to. 


What should we be teaching students? What equipment should they be working with? or not working with? How can they help support your success and keep the good sound rolling? 




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Make sure they know the basics  mic level line level and polar patterns. Also make sure they know how to send audio to a camera via a breakaway snake. Seems like many of the newer folks don't know how to send audio to a camera correctly also explain to them that just because we have all this great technology nothing wrong with keeping it simple and running a hardwired cable when it makes sense to. 

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Hi MRW, 


I’ll be brief now but hope to chime in with more detail in a few days. Aside from an understanding of the ‘basics’ (which could be anything up to a tonmeister style degree of film sound technique / engineering / music theory / sound physics) I have absolutely believed for a long time that film sound students should be taught “whatever else is going on on the film set and in post” and even more importantly that the rest of the same year’s film course should be given a serious introduction to film sound as it relates to them (‘sound for producers’, ‘sound for camera’, ‘sound for production design’ as well as the obvious possibility of ‘for makeup’ ‘for costume’ if in the same faculty). And for the creative side, ‘sound for writing’ ‘sound for directors’ ‘sound for storytelling’.


What I believe should be (perhaps gently) learnt on any kind of film course is:

on the first professional jobs - keep mouth shut and eyes and ears open - ask questions after you’ve already thought over it;

learn to understand the other departments problems and expectations;

observe the politics

... then enjoy the chaos!


Jez Adamson


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I agree with @The Immoral Mr Teas That everyone else should know about sound and how their departments can affect sound. I just wrapped a feature that probably won’t ever see the light of day because of decisions made by the DP. Sad because it was Oscar material. In the end, the post team will say that the sound was bad and blame me, but the camera was noisy, the follow focus was noisy, the lights were noisy, literally everything was noisy. I know post pretty well, but I don’t know how they can clean up that mess. Not possible to do ADR, actors were flown in from Africa and other places, and the budget was of course all used up by the camera team. Google “open letter from the sound department” for more clues into how everyone on a film has responsibilities regarding sound. 

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Thank you all for the great replies, sounds like we're all together on the same page. Feel free to come back and chime in with anything new and if you're in the greater NYC area and need a place to field test some equipment let me know. Our equipment cage can test the shelf life of almost any piece of equipment out there. When I say test I mean the students can find the minimum amount of time it takes to break it...guaranteed. Thankfully they also break cameras so it helps lessen the blow some 😄

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Great stuff Jez!


I have been involved with SOUTH SEAS New Zealand's best "film" and video school for over 20 years


1/ Don't allow people to bore and confuse you with technical stuff

2/ Listen to experience

3/ Ask questions

4/ Hands on and earphones on are critical

5/ Examine your results and seek advice

6/ Volunteer to work with industry professional

7/ See how they manage and solve problems

8/ Experience, experience, experience !



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