Post Production Audio


Interested in sound editing for television and films? At Post Production Audio you can learn more about how audio post production works.

What is Post Production Audio?

Post Production Audio is the general term for all stages of production happening between the actual recording in a studio and the completion of a master recording. It involves, sound design, sound editing, audio mixing, and the addition of effects. Once film shoots have wrapped (been completed) the Post Production Audio Department begin work on constructing the sonic identity of the film. This involves a variety of work, ranging from creating the noises of giant explosions or car crashes to the art of adding subtle sounds that enrich the language and feeling of films.

During film shoots, members of the Sound Department ensure that the recorded dialogue is suitably clear and free of unwanted noises. If the dialogue is not clear, or there are other problems with the recording, the actors' dialogue can be re-recorded after the shoot (post-syncing) for use by the Post Production Audio Department.

They also use the atmosphere (without dialogue) or "wild" tracks recorded on set to enhance the editing process. The original sound recorded during the shoot, and any re-recorded dialogue or additional sound effects are track-laid (the ordering and placement of different audio tracks) and after much refining and reworking, are blended together (mixed) by an experienced Re-Recording Mixer.

On a big film Sound Editing is overseen by the Supervising Sound Editor (who may also be the Sound Designer). Editing dialogue, ADR, music or sound effects are highly creative areas of work, requiring specialist skills which must be acquired over many years of on the job experience.

All Post Production Audio crew members must have a thorough knowledge of acoustics, and of sound recording and editing techniques (analogue and digital), precise attention to detail, and excellent communication skills. They may start work at junior levels or as Runners at Post Production Facilities Houses before eventually progressing to Assistant, Sound Editor or Sound Designer.

Post Production Audio Processes

Post Production Audio usually consists of several processes. Each different project may need some or all of these Post Production Audio processes in order to be complete. The Post Production Audio processes are:

Production Dialogue Editing

In order for the production audio recorded on the set or on location to be properly mixed, a Dialogue Editor needs to prepare it. This means locating the takes used by the Picture Editor from the recorded production audio, checking sync (so the audio works with the picture properly), and eliminating extraneous noise so the Dialogue Mixer has clean dialogue to use during the mix.

ADR | Automated Dialogue Replacement

In cases where the production audio is too noisy or otherwise unusable (bad line reading, airplane fly-by, etc.), or where the filmmakers want to add voice over narration or simply add dialogue that was never recorded, the line will be programmed or “cued” for “looping” or ADR. This process takes place on the ADR Stage, a specialized recording studio where the actor can record while watching the edited picture, matching the sync of the original line or fitting the new lines with the actions. After a loop lines have been recorded, the ADR Editor will check the sync carefully, modifying the take if necessary to precisely match it to the picture, and prepare it for the Mixing Stage.

Sound Effects Design and Editing

Ever wonder how they made the sound of Darth Vader's helmet breath, or the roar of Jurassic dinosaurs, or those great explosions that seem to get bigger every year? Sound Effects Editors and Sound Designers are how. They are the craftspeople who add the computer beeps, gunshots, laser blasts, massive explosions; and more subtle sounds like background ambiences such as air, rivers, birds, and city traffic. Sound Designers use a variety of technologies from bleeding edge to tried & true to create unique sound effects that have never been heard before, or to artistically create specific "mood" sounds to complement the filmmakers’ vision of the visuals. Sound Effects Editors put those sounds in sync with the picture as well as selecting from libraries of hundreds of thousands of prerecorded sounds; and organize them so the FX Mixers can “PreDubb” those sounds efficiently.


Taking its name from Jack Foley, the Hollywood sound editor regarded as the "father" of these effects, Foley effects are sounds that are created by recording (usually) everyday movement while watching the edited picture. Different from the environmental backgrounds (“BGs”) and hard effects (FX), Foley effects are sounds like footsteps, object handling, the rustling of clothing, etc. The people involved in this process are the Foley Walkers or Artists who perform those sounds and the Foley Mixer who records them. After the Foley Effects are “shot,” the Foley Editor will use his/her craft to polish those sounds to ensure that they are exactly in sync with the final picture.

Music Composition

Music for motion pictures falls into two general categories: Score and Source. The Composer is the individual hired to prepare the dramatic underscore. Source music is what we hear coming from an on screen or off screen device like stereos, televisions, ice cream trucks, and so on. Source music may be original or licensed from a number of libraries that specialize in the creation of "generic" music. Songs (music with vocals) may occupy either function, depending on the dramatic intent of the director. For "Pulp Fiction" for example, Director Quentin Tarantino hired a Music Supervisor (Karyn Rachtman) to "score" the picture using period music of the 1970's almost exclusively. Most contemporary films use a combination of score and source music.

Music Editing

The Music Editor assists the Composer in the preparation of the dramatic underscore. Frequently working also with the Music Supervisor, the Music Editor will take timings for the Composer during a spotting session in order to notate the specific locations in the film where underscore or source music will punctuate the narrative. Once the underscore is recorded and the source music gathered, the Music Editor would be the person who edits or supervises the final synchronization of all music elements prior to the mix.

Mixing | Dubbing

The Mixers have the responsibility of balancing the various elements, i.e., the Dialogue & ADR, Music, Sound Effects, and Foley Effects, in the final mix. The Dialogue Mixer, (also called the Lead Mixer or Gaffing Mixer) commands the mixing stage; his/her partners in the mix traditionally were the Effects Mixer and the Music Mixer. As of now, the Lead Mixer commonly does the Music mixing as well, reducing the traditional mixing team by a third. On huge pictures with tight deadlines, it is possible that several teams of mixers are working simultaneously on numerous stages in order to complete the mix by the release date.