Behind the Title…
An audio engineer with music in his heart.
NAME: Ron DiCesare (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Freelance Audio Engineer, based in NYC
WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I work mainly on audio for TV and radio commercials. There are three main areas of audio for commercials, films, and TV. They are dialog, music, and sound effects.
As an audio engineer, I am asked to work on any or all of these three main audio elements. With commercials, a typical job starts with recording a voiceover. Then, the VO will go to a video editor where the spot is cut. Or, if the video is already done using a scratch VO/guide track, I will fit in the final VO recording. From there I am asked to lay in the music from the composer or find appropriate stock music myself. Then I will add any sound effects, if needed.
Once everyone is happy with all of the three major sound elements of dialog, music and effects, I will do the final mix. That’s where I make sure the audio levels or volume of each item is in its proper place and fits the audio spec of -24LKFS +/- 2db.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I am most surprised at how often I am asked to select music for a commercial. The job of an audio engineer can be very technical at times, but there is an assumption that audio engineers also have the musical knowledge and background to act like a composer using stock music.
I am lucky because I started studying music when I was 7 years old, I played professionally at age 12, and I went to music school where I earned my degree in music, not engineering. In addition, I compose music for fun on my own. So, the hardest part of my job is how subjective music is… yet it is one of the most important aspects of a commercial. That is why I am often surprised at how many times using my musical background and musical knowledge is vital for working on commercials.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Music editing. I enjoy the challenge of making a musical piece work within the boundaries of a commercial. I love thinking like a composer rather than an engineer.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The overall approval process of advertising agencies. I think the biggest flaw to our industry is that the person who has the final say about the commercial is the person who is involved the least or at the very last step. I find that I have to address ideas and comments from many people along the way who do not have final say over the spot. I often wish for a more streamlined or direct route for the approval process.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Mornings. I do not know if this is scientifically true or not, but I have heard that a person’s ears are at their best in the mornings. I have found, particularly when I am mixing record albums, I have done my best mixing in the mornings before 10am or 11am.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
A design engineer. Like my father, I share his “curse” where I see the world around me as flawed. No matter what I am doing, audio or otherwise, I often think there must be a better way. At times, I will design or build what ever I think works better for the task at hand.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Nair, Friskies and Beggin’ Strips.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Generally: Microphones, Speakers and Computers.
Specifically: Neumann U-87, Pro Tools and the Dolby Media Meter plug-in.
Here is a bonus item: my cherry wood finish Gretsch drums sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, and 22-inch kick with Rim-system type mounts and my 20-inch formula 602 Paiste flat-ride that sounds just like the ride cymbal on “Black Cow.”