What Does A Recording Engineer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Recording Engineers

Recording Engineers are audio technicians that manage the recording equipment used to capture audio during the post-production process. They typically set up, maintain, and operate the audio equipment needed to record sound effects, music, or dialogue for movies or TV shows.

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Recording Engineers are typically part of the post-production sound department for film and TV productions. They work under the Supervising Sound Designer to record audio elements during the post-production process. This may include the recording of foley sounds and original music scores.

The Recording Engineer may also re-record lines of dialogue. In some cases, filmmakers cannot obtain clear dialogue on set, especially when filming on-location with a variety of external noises. The Recording Engineer then obtains new recordings of the spoken lines of dialogue. The audio obtained by the Recording Engineer is then passed on to the Sound Mixer.

What they do

Recording Engineers are audio technicians that manage the recording equipment used to capture audio during the post-production process. They typically set up, maintain, and operate the audio equipment needed to record sound effects, music, or dialogue for movies or TV shows.

Provide Tech Support to Sound Mixers and Supervisors

Recording Engineers are typically members of the support staff. They assist Sound Mixers and Supervisors during the completion of various post-production audio tasks.

For example, a Recording Engineer may be needed to configure equipment during an Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) session. The Recording Engineer may also inspect audio connections and equipment for faults.

Set up and Maintain Audio Equipment

Before the Foley Artist can record sound effects or the Composer records new music, the Recording Engineer needs to set up the audio equipment.

Setting up and maintaining audio equipment are often the main tasks of a Recording Engineer. They need to consider the type of audio being recorded and the environment to select the right microphones and other gear. They then lay cable and wiring to connect the various pieces of equipment.

The Recording Engineer may also maintain the equipment. After a recording session, the equipment needs to be disconnected and stored properly.

Operate Equipment to Capture New Audio

Depending on the role of the Recording Engineer, they may remain in the studio during the recording session to operate the equipment. In some cases, the Recording Engineer performs the duties typically assigned to a separate Sound Mixer.

For example, the Recording Engineer may record ADR sessions or foley sessions. During an ADR session, the Recording Engineer watches as the Actor performs lines of dialogue while watching their performance on a screen. The Recording Engineer adjusts the mics and ensures that the new dialogue syncs with the lip movements on the screen.

During a foley session, the Recording Engineer works with a Foley Artist to record sound effects, such as footsteps, gunshots, or weather. The Foley Artist creates the sounds while the Recording Engineer operates the audio equipment.

Edit or Mix Audio Tracks During Post-Production

On smaller projects, the Recording Engineer may perform sound mixing duties during post-production. After all the sound elements are captured, the Recording Engineer combines them and syncs them with the video footage.

Editing and mixing audio tracks for a movie or TV show also requires adjustments to the sound levels. The Recording Engineer may need to ensure that the sound remains at a consistent level from one scene to the next.

For large projects, sound mixing is typically handled by the Sound Mixer. However, the Recording Engineer may also assist with this process, providing technical support, and preparing equipment.

Prepare Audio Equipment During Principal Photography

The Production Sound Mixer is often tasked with onset recording during principal photography. However, some projects may also require a separate Recording Engineer to prepare the audio equipment.

What is the job like


You Can Work in a Variety of Industries

Recording Engineers have flexibility when it comes to employment, as they are needed in a variety of industries, including video game development and advertising.

You May Get to Interact with Famous Musicians

When recording audio during post-production, famous Musicians and Actors may need to come in to record music or dialogue.

You May Not Face a Lot of Pressure

Recording Engineers have limited responsibilities, which results in less pressure compared to other roles in the film and TV industries.

You Can Advance Your Career

Working as a Recording Engineer can provide a path to becoming a Sound Mixer and eventually a Sound Designer, for those with the right combination of experience and skill.


You May Not Feel Appreciate for Your Work

The Recording Engineer is one of many undervalued positions in the film industry. The lack of recognition can be a little discouraging for some Recording Engineers.

You May Spend Long Hours on Recording Sessions

When working as tech support for recording sessions during post-production, you may need to remain in the studio with no real tasks to perform other than setting up equipment. Certain aspects of this job can be tedious and boring.

Where they work

Recording Studios
Film and Animation Studios
Advertising Agencies
Video Game Development Companies

Recording Engineers may work as freelance contractors or find full-time employment with a company. Common employers include recording studios, film studios, production companies, video game development companies, animation studios, and advertising agencies. However, some of these employers may only hire Recording Engineers for freelance work.

Recording Engineers may also find work in the music industry. Along with movies and TV shows, Recording Engineers are needed to maintain equipment during recording sessions for original music.

How to become one

Step 1: Learn More About Audio Recording Equipment and Software

Aspiring Recording Engineers can learn more about the equipment and software used. High school students may experiment with audio software and mixing original music or sound effects.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Engineering

Many Recording Engineers have Bachelor’s degrees. A common major for Recording Engineers is Audio Engineering, which provides the skills and knowledge needed to operate complex audio equipment.

Step 3: Start Working on Local Projects

To gain work experience, you may need to volunteer or offer your services at a low rate for local projects, such as events and festivals.

Step 4: Find Entry-Level Work at a Production Studio

Look for work at a production studio that handles post-production sound for film and TV projects. These jobs provide steady employment and experience, allowing you to gradually find better paying jobs with more responsibilities.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Recording Engineers need to be analytical, as this job requires strong technical skills and involves complex audio equipment. You should also be detail-oriented due to the variety of components and factors involved in setting up a recording session.

When working as part of the tech support team, Recording Engineers need to be good listeners and follow directions well. You may also require good communication skills to collaborate with other audio professionals and an excellent ear for detecting small changes in sounds.

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