Production Sound Mixer
Sir Mix-a-Lot (no relation to the music producer) arrives on set at 5:15am for another long day of shooting. He hits up the craft services table right away, mainly for the coffee. He checks in with the director or, if he's busy, the AD (Assistant Director), and the two of them go over the call sheet, which lists what scenes are being filmed that day. This way, Mixy (as he prefers to be called) has an idea of what will be required of him that day. Are there any outdoor scenes or will everything be shot in the studio? There are additional sound concerns when filming outside. You may have to hold for so many planes you'll think you’re on location at O'Hare. Who needs to be mic'ed, and when? Sometimes only one person needs to be mic'ed in a given scene because the audio of the off-camera actor feeding him lines will not be used in the final cut.
Once Mixy has all his questions answered, he starts setting up for the first shot of the day. He connects with his boom operator, his cable guy (the electrical variety—you can’t call this character to come to your home and fix your DVR that’s on the fritz), and his equipment technician. They get all necessary cords and wires set up, start mic’ing any talent whose audio will need to be recorded, and prepare for filming. One last deep breath (it's going to need to last him about 12 more hours, so make it a good one) and then it’s off to work we go.
We only count six. Did someone lose his balance?
Filming starts at 8:25, hi ho hi ho, about a half hour behind schedule. (In Hollywood, a half hour behind schedule puts you way ahead of schedule.) As the shoot progresses, Mixy operates the sound recorder, makes certain everything is going smoothly and alerts the director if there are any problems, watches to make sure there are no boom shadows in the shot, and strives to keep the sound levels consistent. He also records some "room tone" for each scene, which is just the slight, nearly imperceptible sound you hear when everyone is being quiet. You can imagine how difficult that is to achieve in a room full of actors.
Throughout the day, Mixy wears his high-tech noise-canceling headset, which blocks out virtually all sound other than what is being picked up by the microphones. As the shoot progresses and certain external audio changes take place (maybe a few birds have started hanging out in a nearby tree and they're chirping like crazy, or maybe one of the characters starts up a particularly noisy car engine), Mixy has to adjust the dials on his equipment to block out an element of sound or pick up feed only on selected microphones. He also keeps a detailed sound report that lists any potential problem areas, so that he can review those segments later and indicate to the sound editor any takes that should not be used for whatever reason.
Cast and crew break for lunch at 11, and then it's back to work at noon. More of the same for about six hours. At one point he has to ask the director to stop filming so they can sort out a sound distortion issue—it turns out the levels were set too high and need to be adjusted before shooting can continue. This unexpected delay doesn’t sit too well with Diva von Getoveryourself, the lead actress in this little charade parade. Mixy is used to getting attitude from actors who consider themselves superior to the crew, however, so he doesn’t let it affect him.
There is another break at 6pm for dinner, and shooting finally wraps for the day at 9:15. Mixy will head home, crash into a pile of pillows, and be back at 5am tomorrow to do it all over again. Until then, the only sound to be heard will be that of his snoring. And of his girlfriend getting up to go sleep on the couch.
Or the floor. Whatever's closest.