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Sound Chat #36 - Tania Payne (Sound Editing)

by Matt Price on December 18, 2015

Hey everyone, Matt from Soundrolling.com here, chatting with Tania Payne from Australia today who is does both sound recording and post production on shorts and documentaries, It's great to have her here to offer insights from being earlier in her career like most of the readers at Sound Chats.

I am interested in what I see as a grown trend of professionals that work in both production and post production sound, I started more in post but fell in love with production sound, is there one you prefer more? which one did you start in first?

Hi Matt, and thanks for having me.

I started in location sound but now I prefer post production, and mainly editing over mixing.

I always had a love for sound, even way back in high school, but at the time I wanted to work in the music industry as a sound engineer. Once I finished high school, I worked in insurance in order to save up the money to do a Certificate of Audio Engineering when I was 20, & from there, I spent a bit of time working in live situation, even though my goal was to be in the studio. I felt then, and I still feel now, that location sound gives you a great grounding for studio work.

Sadly, I became disillusioned with the music industry and gave up. A few years later, I worked in theatre for 2-3 years part-time but my heart wasn't really in it.

In December 2012, feeling quite disheartened with what I was doing, I decided to I quit my job. I wanted to return to sound. And I wanted to work in film. I completed a 5 day intensive film-making course at the Australian Film Television & Radio School (AFTRS) in February 2014, bought some equipment and began working for free on short films, with the goal of gaining as much experience as I could in order to apply for the Graduate Diploma of Post Production Sound at AFTRS the next year.

I graduated with my Grad Dip in December 2015.

I enjoy location recording, and I love being on set. However I do have the problem that I loathe standing around waiting .... all the waiting! I need to be doing something. If it's a smaller production, then I am usually helping props & dressing the set, or helping the gaffer, whatever I can find.

With post production, I enjoy the creative component and the ability to evoke an emotional response from an audience using a sound. For me, post is like a puzzle ... I am given all the pieces and I need to make them fit together.

London is a great place to find work on short films which is where many people start and I still love to dabble in, mainly because they are short and sweet. What's the Australian market like for short films and documentaries?

While there are always short films being made, budget plays a large role, as I am sure it does everywhere. And you can only do so much free work before you feel you're being taken advantage of. While crowd-funding seems to be used to a large extent these days, I am finding that the budget is usually well and truly spent by the time the film makes it to the sound editing stage. To me, it seems that directors & producers are more focused on splashing out on the production so that the film looks good, than they are on ensuring their film sounds good. We are definitely considered the last rung on the ladder. I know this is a similar situation that picture editors find themselves in too.

As you may know, TropFest has been cancelled this year in Sydney, and I have no idea what effect that will have on the short film 'industry' in Australia. While it is by no means the only short film competition, it is probably the most well known. The ripple effect will be interesting to see.

I think documentaries are under-estimated. I love working on them. They provide a different kind of puzzle, & I think sometimes you have a little more freedom to be more naturalistic in your editing, though that does really depend on the subject & style of the production.

In the UK job sites like mandy.com and filmandtvpro are quiet big, especially in London and we have a few other sites people find jobs apart from word of mouth. What are the main ways you find work?

When I was just starting out in location recording, I used starnow.com.au in order to find work, but after doing a few projects, the work started to come in by word of mouth & referrals from friends, which was great.

Networking is also so important, I can't stress that enough.

I was fortunate to know one or two people already in the industry when I started at AFTRS last year, so instead of twiddling my thumbs during our midyear break, I managed to organise a feature film attachment for myself for 4 weeks. It was the best learning experience! And attending Australian Screen Sound Guild functions also helped. If you turn up enough, people start to recognise you & chat with you & before you have started a professional relationship with them, you have already made a connection on a personal level.

Since graduating in December last year, I was fortunate to be offered two more feature film attachments with Soundfirm Sydney, as well as two short films with them (one I just finished yesterday), and there are two more possible projects coming up. I have been so fortunate but I also see that I put in the 'hard yards' laying all the groundwork last year. I have completed 5 short films this year, 3 of which were referred to me by word-of-mouth.

Is there a particular genre you like to work on?

No, not really. I'm just happy to work!

I guess at this stage of my career, I am just happy to work on anything as the more diverse the projects, the more experience I gain.

I have now moved back to doing more post production, especially on projects i've recorded on, helping to smooth the whole process. Do you ever record and then do post on the same project?

So far, I have only had the opportunity to do that once, and it was an interesting experience but I've no doubt it will happen again.

What's your post production setup at home/studio?

My home setup is pretty basic but it does the job.

- Pro Tools 11 (& 10)

- Mbox Mini

- iZotope RX 4

- double monitor screen set up

- MAC

- Tannoy Reveal stereo speakers

- Rotel stereo integrated amplifier

I was given a long-term loan of the speakers and the amp, which I am so grateful.

Thanks Tania :) 

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