The Reality of Sound Mixing for Reality TV

I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and graduated with a Degree in Sound Design in 2005. Overall I received a good education and I only have one major compliant. When I learned about Location Sound Mixing and Recording we were taught everything as if we would be always working on high budget films. We were told we always must use a sound cart, have a boom operator, a cable utility person, must always have a video feed and should only use wireless microphones as a last resort when all else fails. So upon my graduation this is how I thought all sound was done well I quickly learned this was not the case for reality tv and most low budget films. The biggest downfall of my education was the lack of wireless microphone theory and practical lav usage. Upon getting hired on my 1st Reality tv shoot I show up and I am the only sound person with 3 camera filming and the first words out of the producers mouth was, ” You can leave your Boom with the rest of the gear you won’t be using it”. This is when I knew I would be learning via “Trial by Fire”. After surviving this shoot I thought maybe this shoot was unusual but after I few more I realized that it was Reality Tv and it was a completely different type of mixing with a completely different approach. Now after doing so many reality tv shows when I do the occasional film I sometimes forget for a second that we can do multiple takes and if something isn’t 100 percent perfect we can keep trying till we get it right. But doing reality tv has made me a better sound mixer because there are no retakes and it has to be perfect every time. It has also made me think on my feet faster and taught me some creative boom operating methods it still amazes me that I can boom operate effectively while mixing 5 wireless but I do it all the time.  I enjoy doing Reality Tv Sound but hope in the next 5 years I am able to get back into doing more films where I can actually try to work towards perfect sound instead of just trying to get good sound in any situation.

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