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Should I take the role? Audio Trainee

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Nicolette Hurnen
Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 11, 2019 at 5:18:31 am

I'm currently 1.5 years through a 3 year degree in film production and I have been offered a 6 week position as an Audio Trainee on a feature film.

But unfortunately, taking the position would mean that I would miss half of this semester and I would have to wait a year to go back to study because of how my degree is structured.

Is this Audio Trainee role a rare occurrence? Is it worth taking a year off study?


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Ty Ford
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 11, 2019 at 4:21:31 pm

Hello Nicolette and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

While I'm sure you'd learn a lot of things about the business if you took the position, Audio Trainee is not a position I'm familiar with. Others may come in and give you further ideas.

I'm gonna go with a "Thanks so much, but no. Can I please have your contact information for after I get my degree?"

Disclaimer: I don't have a degree. I'm old. Degrees were not as important when I was younger. I do have an FCC General RadioTelephone Operator's license. It was originally a First Class Telephone Operator's license, but the FCC changed things. I studied for over a year to get that. I also took a course at a local big time recording studio that consisted of 24 one hour teaching sessions. Anyway, enough about me.

As the population grew, employers had to have some way to filter the applicants. They were advised (by academics) that having degrees would do that job. The academics, of course, would be the ones profiting from all of those who felt obliged to pursue a career with a degree.

As a result, things changed over time. In addition to crushing academic debt, we have some people with degrees that only know (or remember) parts of what they were taught. If, along the way, they were not taught to think for themselves, they are pretty limited. That's not to say that you stop learning after school. After school is where you START to learn by practicing your craft. If I don't learn something new at each shoot or session, I get bored. ☺

So, why, since I don't have a degree, do I suggest you stay in school rather than break ranks and become a "TRAINEE?" The workplace can be a fascinating but dangerous place for a woman. I think you'd be safer in school. Please reach out to Jan McLaughlin, jannie.jan@gmail.com. Tell her I sent you and ask for her opinion on your situation.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Nicolette Hurnen
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 11, 2019 at 8:43:23 pm

Thanks Ty!

Hmmm that's very true and you make a good point. I have been wondering if it was the fear of never getting a job that was pushing me to take it.

Luckily fees in New Zealands aren't nearly as expensive as the US but it's still alot of money to spend when all the skills are practical and could be learned on the job. The good thing about uni (for me at least) is creating connections with other students and industry professionals who otherwise I wouldn't have met.

Thanks for the email address! I'll flick through a message today.

I appreciate the opinion heaps and I'll let you know if I take it.


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Ty Ford
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 11, 2019 at 9:49:14 pm

Great. Are they teaching everything about audio, studio, editing, music, VO, mixing mastering, live sound or just film production? What software platforms and software?

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Nicolette Hurnen
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 16, 2019 at 12:01:56 am

Sorry for the late reply! Sort of, we have the facilities at Massey and we often have external clients (like feature films) come in and use our studios and mixing desks. However the degree is only 4 years old and there is no specific audio pathway yet.

I've made sure to organise projects and extra sessions with the Technicians so that I can use all of the gear and practice. Although it seems that only myself and a third year are they only ones interested putting any effort into learning how to do sound professionally.

We use protools but I'm not overly confident in it yet. I have a certificate in live sound but it's not from uni, we mostly do on set and post production with very little studio time, even though we supposedly have some of the best studios in NZ (which is a bit sad).

I can find out exactly what we have if you're interested? Unfortunately there's not many high level productions that happen during my degree as many people don't have the motivation to go all out on a project, so I end up working as my own producer and director (which is not too bad) whenever I want to do something that requires mixing later. But it means that I'm working from 7.40am to 9pm-10pm most days which can be quite exhausting.


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Ty Ford
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 16, 2019 at 12:45:31 am

Hi Nicolette,

Yes, it would be interesting to hear how the school is geared up and what sort of classes they're making available.

the hours....yeah, but soak it up. Soak everything up, including the audio. If you truly have a passion for it, the time just flies by.

I began working on a 10-12 show radio series recently. I'd never really done Foley before, but understood the how and why. I've done multitrack music in the studio and live sound, radio and TV spot production, sound for video and film.

I also shoot and edit. Some years back I was asked to produce a short. To my great joy and surprise, it won several short film awards. You never know where the net breeze will blow you. If you have a lot of different skills, you'll never be out of work.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Nicolette Hurnen
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 16, 2019 at 1:13:07 pm

Absolutely, now is certainly the time to learn as much as I can!

I'll flick though the details for what we have on Monday as I can't quite remember off the top of my head exactly what we have.

It's something along the lines of an Icon Console, ASP8024 - the Heritage Edition (small edition with 24 channels? x3 and one larger board with 36?), Protools S6, Two Older Consoles, Foley Room, ADR room, 20 seat cinema (with the S6 in it), 9ish small studios/practice rooms with vocal booths, an orchestral studio with vocal booths, a modern performance room, 2 Colour grading studios, 3 edit suits, various microphones (AKG 414?, NTG 1000, SM57, SM58, Royer ribbon mic's, boom mics...), Numerous C200's and C100's, couple of Red dragons, Cinema Prime Lenses, Sigma lenses, Samyang Lenses, Audio Devices Kit (four and 3 channel field recorders), some brand new aperture 120D(?) lights, honestly I could be here for a while with gear but that's the majority of the fun stuff😊


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Ty Ford
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 16, 2019 at 3:47:54 pm

Nicolette,

That's a great list! If you learn to manage (much less remember) all of THAT, you'll do fine in the work place.

No need to worry about getting me more info.

Cheers,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Nicolette Hurnen
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 17, 2019 at 12:44:51 am

Awesome! That's really good to know 😊


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Robert Withers
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 12, 2019 at 3:27:55 am

Ty has a great perspective on all of this and I'm only going to add something short and glib because it's late:
It's great to be any kind of trainee or intern on a feature if you work closely with someone in a key position who is willing to spend time really training and educating you.
But feature sets and locations can be a really long slow slog with lots of down time that is sometimes hard to make good use of . . .
If you got this offer another will come up . . . definitely! You can go out and seek them, too. After you finish the degree program. It sounds like you have lots of experiences and time ahead of you.
I hustled to get script supervisor "internships" and found people really willing to share their expertise.
Do you find the school work satisfying and enlightening? I left a 4 year college after 3 years but I got my degree. It came in really handy in ways I couldn't have imagined.
Best wishes if glibly,
Robert

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Nicolette Hurnen
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 16, 2019 at 12:19:00 am

Sorry for the late reply. I really enjoy uni, because I get access to some amazing gear. Some of my papers are a bit pointless (for me) and require a lot of work, but some are equally amazing. One of my audio lecturers worked on the Hobbit (in ADR I think) and we spent a lecture going through all of the stems and swapping Bilbo's voice for a class mates. But that was the most complex thing we were shown in the paper, and there's not a lot of audio in the degree (there's one specific paper) everything else has audio on the side but not focused on Audio. Although we share facilities with a Commercial Music Degree so I've taken some of their papers.

The rest of the degree is mostly exploring production on a whole (which I don't mind to much as I'm also interested in being a Producer and eventually a director).

I'm certainly going to look for more internships/positions on films when I finish my degree.

PS: I went to take the position (the morning after it was offered to me by the recordist) and I got a call to say that the producer had found someone who had just graduated (from the same degree as I'm doing) and that they were probably going to go with the graduate. Which is a little disappointing, but I hope that I'll get more opportunities like this when I leave uni.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Should I take the role? Audio Trainee
on Aug 19, 2019 at 10:00:45 pm

Nicollete, it sounds like you're doing everything right, and I hope things work out well for you.

I think your idea of learning by doing your own productions also has a lot of merit, because it is in those very situations that you will build a lot of useful problem-solving skills. Anybody with a big budget and high end tools can just throw money at a problem and fix it. It's a different thing to solve an issue that comes up, with only what's on hand, plus some imagination and the experience that comes from having to solve production problems on the spot, versus the classroom work.

The classroom work is valuable, to be sure. But when I think back to my own university experience, I learned the most useful things in the internships and practicum experiences, as a way of *applying* the ideas that i'de read about in class.

If there are pro production rental shops in your area, it would be a good idea to go there and see if you can get some work operating said rental gear for productions that come thru and rent stuff. it isn't the same as working many weeks on one movie, but it can be useful to work a day or three here and there on a great variety of things, especially things like commercials. My experience may be out of date, but I did get some great gigs by getting referrals from the rental place when a customer of theirs wanted a tech or operator for whatever they were renting. You make a lot of contacts that way, and networking will be important to your growing career.

Good luck! Hire me when you get famous and rich.


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