Sound Design Team Responsibilities
The sound designer is responsible for creating or enhancing the aural environment of the production through audio playback and live reinforcement, as required. This includes the acquisition or creation of the content of the sound design, the design of the audio systems needed to reproduce/reinforce the design in the theatre, and the configuration of communications systems for the production. The sound designer also supervises the work of the sound engineer, mixing engineer, and other members of the sound team. In collaboration with the director and the other members of the design/technical team, the sound designer is responsible for developing a viable production concept, maintaining adequate communication with all members of the production team, integrating the design into the rehearsal process, adapting the design as the production evolves in rehearsal, finalizing the design during technical rehearsals, and maintaining the quality of the design throughout the run of the production. Deadlines for each phase of the design process are provided in the production calendar. These are the dates when each phase of the design must be completed, but it is often necessary to complete a phase before the posted deadline, based on the needs of the production.
The sound engineer is primarily responsible for installing, testing, and maintaining the audio and communication systems specified by the sound designer. This includes creating the shop order from the designer’s system documentation, acquiring the necessary equipment, studying the operation of unfamiliar equipment, training the sound crew, organizing crew schedules, posting crew calls pursuant to regulations specified in this handbook, and directing and supervising all crew activity.
The sound engineer is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe environment for all members of the production as well as for all equipment and cable. Neatness of cabling and cleanliness of equipment installation must be maintained at all times. The sound engineer is also responsible for staffing the operation of the performances and the maintenance of the quality of the design throughout the run.
The mixing engineer is responsible for the operation, balance, and fidelity of musical or other reinforced shows as directed by the sound designer. The mixing engineer will fully learn the dialog, music, and blocking of the show by attending all run-through rehearsals and will develop a copy of the script that accurately details microphone pick-ups, band entrances, levels, playback cues, and other mixing notes. The sound designer supervises and directs the mixing engineer in learning and operating the show, but the mixing engineer is responsible for maintaining the sound of the show for each performance. The mixing engineer should fully understand the audio systems as well as the operation of all equipment in the systems and be available to assist the sound engineer in troubleshooting and maintenance as necessary.
The microphone dresser is responsible for tracking wireless microphone placement, designing appropriate attachment equipment, and supervising all wireless microphone dressing and maintenance during performances. The mic dresser will work directly with both the sound designer and costume designer to determine optimum mic placements for each actor that provide excellent sound quality while visually integrating with the costume design. The mic dresser will also create and update microphone tracking and dressing plans and work with the sound engineer to train and organize schedules for the mic dressing crew.
Assistant Sound Engineer
The assistant sound engineer is responsible for assisting the sound engineer, mixing engineer, and mic dresser in all of the responsibilities described above. The specifics of the position will change with each production as appropriate.
Not every production will be staffed with a crew member in all of positions described above. In these cases, the members of the sound team will divide and share these responsibilities as determined by the sound designer and faculty adviser.