What is expected from a sound effects editor?



What are the exact tasks that a sound effects editor is expected to fulfill? Apart from choosing the effect and editing it, are we expected to also mix, place the SFX in a space, EQ to context, etc.? I'm in a smaller team so I do a lot more than just edit, but it's sometimes had for me to know the expected boundaries from one team member to the next.


Andrew Spitz

Posted 2010-04-12T16:04:50.353

Reputation: 6 251

Great question, great answers all around. Thanks gentlemen. – Steve Urban – 2011-08-22T03:49:57.563



It depends on the project & the team: thats part of collaboration

  • spot the requirements/intent with director & supervisor
  • research & source sounds
  • record sound effects & ambiences, in studio & on location
  • inherit & prepare any production sound effects from dialogue editor, along with checking alt takes
  • edit & prepare sound effects & ambiences
  • volume graph/balance your work so it plays coherently
  • cut for perspective and panning where appropriate
  • conform your work to new picture cuts
  • seek feedback & approval from director via supervisor
  • coordinate with foley on any sounds that may overlap

In my experience, EQ is best left for the predub when it is done in a mix facility (EQ on nearfield is quite different to on film dub stage) unless the EQ is essential for the sound to function (eg removing wind rumble)

Same goes for reverb, although for temp mixes (or again where it is crucial for the sound to function) printing reverbs in some cases can be helpful, even just as a guide


Posted 2010-04-12T16:04:50.353



Very gray area here. In the most traditional sense of the job, a sound effects editor is expected to take sounds that have been selected for him/her by the supervising sound edtior and edit them against the picture. That's it. Anything else and you're not really talking about a sound effects editor anymore.

What sound effects editors are expected to do these days is quite different from what it used to be; it's really an amalgamation of all the disciplines, from recording sounds to designing new sounds to basic and advanced mixing. This requires knowledge of and experience with microphones, recording techniques, librarian skills, sound editorial, sound synthesis and sampling, reverb and EQ techniques, mixing and mastering.

This is the case with both big budget and independent films, in my experience.

Jay Jennings

Posted 2010-04-12T16:04:50.353

Reputation: 15 432

Same personal experience, pretty much required to create a "premix" of sorts with levels and panning. Seems to help with the intention in the end, but boy does it become a black hole of time on a busy show. And making my own sound effects source decisions with the rare occasion when a supervisor will pull a few select sounds for me to work with as a basis for particular sound events. – Stavrosound – 2011-09-18T08:26:47.290


Generally speaking, you would just place your layers on the timeline and do a very rough mix, just overall volume so that the effects don't blow everybody's head of on the screenings and stuff. For the drastic "special" stuff you can print reverbs and stuff on a different track to "tell" the mixer what your idea was.

But in the end it all depends on the project, you should check with the sound editing supervisor and/or with the mixer.

Filipe Chagas

Posted 2010-04-12T16:04:50.353

Reputation: 2 555