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Sound Operator / Technician: Radio, Television and Film
Sound technicians, or radio, television and film sound operators, record the sound tracks onto tape or film for radio and/or television productions. They may also be involved with the broadcasting of these sound tracks.

Sound technicians operate technical equipment to amplify, enhance, record, mix or reproduce sound in support of performing arts, and may also assemble and maintain sound equipment. They use control desks, microphones, tape machines and turntables to achieve optimum sound quality.

Sound work entails an interesting mix of elements to create a realistic sound track. When recording voices, they may liaise with performers and instruct them on microphone use. Besides recording actual voices or music for a programme, sound technicians also have to create background sound and special effects. Over time, sound technicians pick up various tricks for producing everyday sounds so that they sound realistic when broadcast.

Sound technicians work very closely with the producers on sound mixing to achieve the delicate balance of voices, sound effects and background music so that the right setting and mood is created.

Film sound operators are sometimes called upon to dub films from one language to another. This is a difficult task because lip movements, sound effects and acoustics have to be matched as closely as possible to the original.

Sound technicians may work in radio, television and recording studios, theatres and other venues where live performances are staged and in wholesale and retail businesses trading in sound reproduction, recording and public address equipment. In some cases, they may specialize in operating or maintaining sound equipment.

Sound technicians may be required to work in shifts involving long hours in the evenings and over weekends. Broadcasting of outside sports events poses special problems for radio and television sound operators. They often work under difficult conditions, such as outdoor concerts, in variable weather.

Satisfying Aspects
- challenging, interesting and varied work
- being creative with sound
- working with sophisticated technology and creative people
- possibility of working with celebrities

Demanding aspects
- working long and irregular hours
- in some cases, working outdoors in adverse weather conditions
- difficulty of getting people to use microphones correctly
- stress when production falls behind schedule

A sound operator should:
- have a high level of technical skill;
- be creative;
- have excellent hearing and good ear for detail in all areas of sound;
- have patience and perseverance.
- have aptitude for working with computers
- have ability to work under pressure
- have decision-making ability
- have good communication skills
- have good problem-solving skills

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Electrical Technology, Dramatic Arts

Diploma: N.Dip: Entertainment Technology - DUT, TUT, Sound Engineering / Technology - City Varsity, Damelin, Intec, ICESA

Some employers offer a 6-week basic training course. Ongoing in-service training is also given.

- television
- radio stations
- film companies
- sound recording studios
- self-employment; with enough experience, can do work on a freelance or contract basis

Any of the above-mentioned universities of technology or potential employers

National Television and Video Association of South Africa (NTVA)
P O Box 16140
Vlaeberg, 8018
Tel: (021) 424-7575 Fax: (021) 424-7580

Head, Personnel Services, SABC

M-Net Recruitment Department