In film, the world of sound has many heroes. You've got sound designers, foley artists, composers— the list goes on and on. However, there are two positions that are closely related, so much so that they often get lumped together (like at the Oscars), but are uniquely integral to the filmmaking process: sound editors and sound mixers.
In this video essay, Fandor's Jacob T. Swinney explains the many differences between the two post-production artists, including what they are, what they do to, and how their contributions affect a film project. Check it out below:
I'm not the most knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the Sound Department, (I don't think my experience wrangling cables qualifies me for much), so I'll admit, I definitely wasn't 100% clear on the differences between sound editors and sound mixers. In fact, I was asked about the difference during last year's Oscars and had to sit there and fumble through a poorly executed and uninformed response. But Swinney does a great job of explaining it once and for all.
So, let's break it down right quick and see if we can't dispel some confusion.
- Sound Editing: The actual recording and creation of sounds both on set and off set (foley)
- Sound Mixing: The process of adjusting the levels of all the individual sound layers
Too simplified? I understand. If you want to dig deeper into these aspects of filmmaking, Walter Murch offers a much more thorough explanation of them in these two videos from Academy Originals.
Hopefully, the differences between sound editing and sound mixing are more apparent to you now, so when the Oscars roll around next February, you'll be able to bust out a tasty piece of trivia to impress your family and friends.