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Interview with sound recordist and editor Emma Butt

Date posted: 22.03.2019

Ahead of the Equal Access Network New Entrants course - our two day masterclass kick-starting careers in the film & TV industries for those with little to no experience - we caught up with one of our speakers Emma Butt, who has worked across various elements of sound recording for over 11 years. 

How would you describe what you do?

I am an ADR Recordist, Re-Recording mixer and Sound Editor and with each job title I do something different.

ADR is the process of re-recording an actors lines in sync to picture. It’s my job to make sure that all recorded takes match well for sync, tone and pitch to the original recorded dialogue. Sound editing is the process of either adding in all the sound effects that you hear in a show - like footsteps, wind, rain, cars passing by. A large amount of what you hear in a TV show or movie has been placed in by a sound editor! A sound editor also can just look after the dialogue. They would tidy up all the dialogue tracks, cut in alternative takes if the chosen take cannot be used for a technical reason.

A Re-Recording mixer takes all these elements of dialogue, sound effects, ADR and music, and balances them together. They sit with the client and help them balance the sound to how they envisioned it.

What inspired you to choose this career?

I actually originally wanted to work in music but fell into post! I studied music technology and advanced recording techniques at University, where I learnt about sound post production. I managed to get a job as a runner in a post-house and it was there that I fell in love with post production sound. I got the opportunity to see how creative the role could be which made me want to pursue sound post production even more.

What was your first job in sound post production like?

I started out as a runner in a post house but after a few months got promoted to an audio assistant. My very first project with clients though recording ADR was a kid’s animation called Gareth and Bev for BBC and my first Re-Recording mixer job was on a programme for deaf people in Ireland. That one was actually really tough as the producer had eagle ears and always picked up on little things I had missed!

Did you gain any formal qualifications in order to pursue this career?

I received a City and Guilds diploma in Advanced Recording Techniques and Music technology as well as passing my Pro Tools 210 course which means I am a qualified Pro tools operator (the software we use in sound post production).

What has been your career highlight so far?

Receiving a certificate of merit from The Emmys for my ADR work on Game of Thrones, where I was lucky enough to work from seasons 1-5, and getting the opportunity to work with Lenny Abrahamson - a director I hugely respect and admire.

What advice would you give to aspiring sound post production engineers?

Leave your ego or any arrogance at the door. When you're starting out, a lack of technical knowledge isn't what will ever hold you back, that is something that you can work to learn, but a bad attitude will stop people from wanting to help you progress. This industry is difficult and starting out usually means taking a job as a runner or an assistant and the ones that always progress quicker are the ones with the positive attitude who are willing to learn and listen.

Networking too. Start to get comfortable with networking. I know it's horrible and I know we all hate doing it but it is necessary and it really does work in helping to progress your career.

Claim your place at the Equal Access Network New Entrants Course to hear Emma and other industry experts share their experience and knowledge, giving you invaluable advice on how to take your first steps in the industry.

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