Sound for beginners

Sound for beginners

RTS Futures
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Chair Andrew Sheldon with Kevin Duff and Mick Duffield (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)
Chair Andrew Sheldon with Kevin Duff and Mick Duffield (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

Sound supervisor/dubbing mixer Kevin Duff and sound recordist/mixer Mick Duffield offered a sound lesson at the RTS Craft Skills Masterclasses. 

Duff works on studio and live shows, combining both specialisms on ITV’s The Voice; Duffield is usually found on location, from the Alps for the feature documentary, Touching the Void to BBC Two’s The Story of China.
Duff on getting started: “This is the only industry, I think, where you can start [from the bottom] as a runner and get in – I see people do that every year … It’s about meeting people … and making the right connections – and not necessarily starting where you want … you may do a job you hate for a while.”
Duffield on learning the basics: “Having a basic understanding of the possibilities of sound is very useful [in TV] … sometimes I talk to, say, production managers and they really don’t know what I’m talking about.”
Duffield on sound’s status: “The resources that different productions have available to give to sound vary enormously. Some films are a delight to work on because they give you the space and resources to deliver more interesting sound … [but sound] can be a much lower priority … [doing little more] than enabling people to understand what people are saying.”
Duffield on new tech: “These days, the equipment I use … is almost like a small, mobile recoding studio … The possibilities for location sound have expanded significantly.”
Duff on working live: “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but sound is about capturing the moment. Some of my favourite recordings aren’t the [best quality], but you can hear an atmosphere. There’s a brilliant recording of Bob Marley doing No Woman No Cry [live] … It doesn’t sound that great but you can feel the atmosphere coming out the speakers … There’s a very fine line between a really good live mix that’s exciting an vibrant, and a complete mess.”
Duff on BBC Two’s live outside broadcast to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele: “That was a big job and quite terrifying, but [it gave me a] buzz … if you capture the sound, that’s your hit … and it makes the job great.”


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