Also called sound technicians, sound assistants are integral members of audio engineering teams of all kinds. Sound assistants are responsible for maintaining recording equipment, as well as its assembly and optimal positioning. They are also vital for on-set safety, preventing trips and falls by making sure cables are tucked out of the way. For a successful video shoot, you’ll need to be able to rely on a trustworthy, skilled sound technician. Take the following into consideration next time you’re interested in hiring a freelance sound assistant.
What to look for
What experience do they have?
Unlike many other roles in video production, sound assistants are fairly unspecialized. Here, the type of experience isn’t important but the amount definitely is.
How are their observational skills?
It’s a sound technician’s job to catch details others miss, both anticipating and recognizing problems on set. The best sound assistants have eagle eyes and excellent hearing.
Who do they usually work with? Are they also a good fit?
While some freelancers fly solo, sound assistants usually work as a team along with the same sound mixer and boom operator.
Know what you need
What does your budget look like?
If it’s on the low side, it may be more prudent to find a student intern rather than an experienced sound technician.
Are you looking for a long-term working relationship?
Because freelancers may be working on an uncertain feast-or-famine schedule, projects that are lengthy or likely to result in additional work can be very attractive. If that’s the case, you may be able to leverage that to find a pool of more skilled candidates.
Are you looking for a sound assistant who is tech savvy?
Figure out if you’re looking for a more traditional in-studio video sound technician or one who may be more comfortable working with high-tech equipment. Of course, you can also find a freelancer who is killed at both.
Questions to ask a potential candidate
Are you punctual?
The entire sound crew, including the assistants, start work early, about a half hour before first call. A late technician can dramatically set back your video production schedule.
Do you consider yourself a problem solver?
A sound assistant is a jack of all trades who is expected to out out multiple “”fires”” at a shoot. This requires some serious critical thinking skills and the ability to act quickly. If they answer “”yes”” to this question, follow up by asking for specific examples.
How fit are you?
Being a sound assistant is a very physically demanding job. Make sure the freelancer has the stamina to stand, squat, and hold heavy objects for long periods of time.
What made you choose sound engineering?
Many sound assistants are relatively new to the career. Asking why they started can uncover just how passionate and dedicated they are to the job.
Are you detail oriented?
This isn’t a “big picture” role — your potential freelance sound assistant needs to be able to recognize even the smallest threats to sound quality on your set.