Movies are meant to entertain you but can you imagine a movie which has no audible sound? You could only view the pictures but has no sound effect. This would certainly kill your entire movie excitement and fun. There is no doubt without an audible sound in movies and video games they would be zero fun and it would be a complete waste of money and time to go watch such movies or play games. All such factors have stimulated the need for sound engineers in the Indian market.
Nakul Kamte who is a famous sound engineer says “initially, the industry preferred to have dubbing system but gradually it realized the importance of sound and therefore ambient sound and dialogues were recorded on location. This created a great demand for trained professionals”.
A sound engineer basic functions are- recording, editing and mixing sounds. He can experiment in various things at the same time which include movies, video games and television acoustics. Kamte added “A recordist captures on location sound which is followed by its editing. Here each frame is matched with ambient sound and dialogue by an editor. But all this requires dedication and will”.
It is found that movies made in 1960s did not pay much heed on actual sound rather they concentrated on pre-recording. This consequently led to similar sound replication in several films. With the course of time there has been advancement in sound technology and the advent of sophisticate sound consoles and acoustics ended the era of pre-recording and on-location recording took its place. However, it is sad to know that today India does not have sound engineers to match up this fast technology. Today, most of the production houses prefer to have trained and skilled sound professionals rather than street smarts. Kamte also quoted on this issue that, “most of the sound engineers in India did not go through formal training. They learnt what they saw which led to an augmentation of untrained professionals”.
Nimish Chadda, who has recently joined sound engineering’ field explains that formal education is very helpful to aspiring sound engineers for understanding this field before they dabble it practically.
To become an audio engineer, one needs to study audiography, sound recording and sound engineering course. You can find two prominent institutes which offer diploma in audiography. First one is, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) which has three year full time Postgraduate diploma course in audiography and the other one is Satayjit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI). Students are taught physics and aesthetics in the program.
Debasish Ghosal, professor of audiography from SRFTI says “under physics we teach sound recording theory and acoustics, whereas under aesthetic, we teach how to train oneself in hearing, music listening and designing of sounds for films. They are also taught recording music and songs, recording sound on location and recording sound for post-production practically,”
An audio engineer can choose to work between cinema and other branches of the field such as acoustics, video games, live broadcast and recording. Individuals who work on video games and animation films create lot things, such as from background music to explosions, gun shots, characters voice-over to their expressions, to ambient sound such as noise, train, rains and vehicles. The remuneration of a sound designer can be easily up to 6 lakh per project while a sound editor can earn Rs 4 lakh per project. A sound recordist can earn daily Rs. 20K and if you are a trained professional you can get to work with serials as a sound technician, boom operator, dialogue editor, Foley editor and Effect editor.
Chedda who has worked for the Indian animation film MarutiMeraDost says “The two important features of sound designing in animation are- dubbing and sound selection. Dubbing involves production work where actors give a voice to each character. This track is then sent to the sound effects team who animate to lip sync. Sound selection involves sound production giving the animation a Real Life Feel.
Since creating a sound track for a game or an animated film is a complex procedure, so you are required to undergo a formal training. This training is also beneficial to compose music and to get knowledge of some instruments. In addition to this, it is also crucial to have a good knowledge of software packages such as Logic Audio, Cool Edit Pro and Sound Forge.
Nakul Kamte has shared his journey from a musician to a sound designer.
He started as a musician and gradually moved to sound designing. But Indian film industry initially preferred to have dubbing over live sound recording, which kept him away from sound recording for a while. He spent some years in music industry and advertising which helped him to get “Bhopal Express” and then he 2001 he worked with Oscar-nominee “lagan”. Nakul Kamte believes that though it is an unconventional field but it requires a lot of creativity and dedication. He also added that before you try your hand into practical, it is required to have first hand information about the technical aspects of sound engineering. He emphasizes that people interested in sound engineering should opt for a course rather then learning from what they see. You do not have to be a noble literate but it is essential to have some amount interest and fondness to play around with sound.
He is the only Indian sound designer who is honored with Oscar, Cinema Audio Society Award, BAFTA and the prestigious Padma Shri for his outstanding work in Slumdog Millionaire. The credit goes to his creative Endeavour that made the Indian Film Industry to take note of an unconventional profession. After such a stupendous success in his field, there are more than 26 films he is working with and he has set an example for many aspiring sound engineers
Below are some extractions of his telephonic interview with Deepshikha Punj. He spoke about the industry, his love for music and remarkable success.
Q. What prompted you to choose sound engineering as a career?
A. It was accidental. I wanted to become a physicist but while I was pursuing higher education I read an advertisement and applied for an audiography course. I soon realized that my natural interest lay in sound and so enrolled myself at FTII, Pune. During my three year stint there learnt quite a lot. Sound was not just about music and effects, it was a part of an art, a wide plethora that cinema offered.
Q. What is it that a sound engineer does?
A. A sound engineer in India dabbles in sound recording, production sound mixing and re-recording mixing which is the final mixing. All of this is to further the vision of the director. The final mix is readied on the basis of the nature of the movie. An audio engineer’s job is not just about understanding sound, but also enhancing the performance of the actors where visuals and audio works in tandem.
Q. What does it take to be a successful audio designer?
A. Only an ability to listen. If you are a good listener and can make quick decisions on what sound needs to be included or excluded, you can easily become a successful audio engineer. Cinema is a craft and only by appreciating all its facets can one truly understand its technicalities.