Basic Job Description:
The Sound Designer is responsible for obtaining all sound effects, whether recorded or live for a specific production. He/She is also responsible for setting up the sound playback equipment and must make sure the board operator is properly trained. Sound Design is an artistic component of the production. The Sound Designer needs to have imagination to create sound effects and not just rerecord them.
The Sound Designer should read the script and meet with the Director in order to discuss the sound design for the show and begin to make the cue list. There are many types of sound effects and many ways they are created. There may be a composer creating music for the production. The Director may have specific pieces of music picked out or they may want the Sound Designer to make some selections. There quite possibly will be non musical effects needed. These may be recorded from other sources for playback or created live during the performance. The Sound Designer is also responsible for setting up any sound reinforcement equipment that may be needed.
After the cues and their sources are determined, the Sound Designer needs to begin gathering them. There is a very good collection of LPs and CDs in the Douglas Listening Room of the Knight Library. Included is the BBC sound effects collection. It is possible to check items out but a permission sheet needs to be signed by a faculty member. There is a sound budget for each production in case some effects need to be purchased.
The Sound Designer needs to become very familiar with the sound equipment in the booth. He/She will need to know how to record the effects onto the different types of playback equipment. Complete knowledge of the cues and their placement in the performance is very important. The Sound Designer will need to be able to decide how complicated cueing will be set up.
Often the Director will want a copy of the cues on a CD as soon as possible. Otherwise finished tapes/disks are not due until the predetermined cueing rehearsal.
Live, offstage sound effects (ie. thunder and guns) are the responsibility of the Sound Designer. The Stage Manager and Technical Director should be consulted in order to determine where to set up the effect and who will run it. The Sound Designer may also work with another member of the production team to create an effect (ie. the Props Designer and a telephone). In any case, it’s important that these kind of effects be discussed in production meetings.
The Sound Designer should attend all run throughs and other acting rehearsals deemed necessary. The board operator needs to be trained on the equipment and any unusual placement of speakers needs to be determined at this time. A few days before Tech rehearsals begin the Sound Designer should meet with the Stage Manager in order to give preliminary cue placements. He/She must attend all Technical/Dress rehearsals. Volume levels, specific cueing, and changes will be made during these rehearsals. The Sound Designer must be able to complete any changes before the next rehearsal.
The Sound Designer should be familiar with a computer editing program such as Audacity. He/she should also become familiar with QLab, the program used for playback. Audacity is a free program. The basic QLab is also free but is a Mac only program. If the designer does not own a Mac, the computers in room 308 are available.
The Sound Designer must attend all production meetings and some specific meetings with the Director. Obtaining and recording sound effects can be time consuming. The Sound Designer must attend some acting rehearsals and all Technical/Dress rehearsals. The Director may ask the Sound Designer to attend many rehearsals. This schedule should be worked out early on. The Sound Designer must be able to find the time to make changes in the cues between rehearsals.