Supervising Sound Editor Tim Nielsen Asbjoern Andersen


Tim Nielsen is a Supervising Sound Editor with over 20 years of experience working in television and film. His credits include Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - and in this interview by Doug Siebum, he talks about his work and the role of Supervising Sound Editor:
Written by Doug Siebum, photos courtesy of Tim Nielsen and Skywalker Sound
Please share:
 

DS: Hi Tim, thanks for agreeing to do an interview. Today I want to talk about the topic of “supervision” and what it means to be a supervising sound editor.

TN: Great, I suppose you’ll get a fair number of different answers, as there is quite a wide variety of “supervision”.
 

DS: How did you find your way into doing sound and more specifically, sound for film?

TN: I was a graduate student at USC in Los Angeles. I had never given sound a second thought. I’m not particularly musical, I don’t play any instruments really. I wanted to be a cinematographer, I thought. But while at school, Gary Rydstrom came and did a lecture, and held a screening of Toy Story, that had just came out. Immediately I was drawn to the power and imagination of sound. That summer I applied for, and was accepted as, Skywalker’s first official intern. That lead to a job as a supervising assistant fairly quickly after graduation.
 

DS: How did you progress from being a sound editor to being a supervising sound editor?

TN: My first supervising job was Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D. The post production supervisor that we worked with in New Zealand on Lord of the Rings, and who became a friend, asked me to help out on that film, heading up to Vancouver and taking over the Supervisor duties. After that it was a mix of some supervising and editing back and forth for a few years before most of my work became supervising and sound design.

 

DS: What percentage of your time on a project is spent dealing with clients, administrative work like hiring people and dealing with budgets, and creative work such as sound design or cutting sound effects?

I would say the workload is probably something like 80% creative and 20% administrative for me. But there are of course some shows that tend to flip that ratio!

TN: It can vary quite a bit from show to show. Often I’ll have a co-supervisor, and often that person will handle quite a bit of that job as well. But a fair amount. The hiring doesn’t take long, we crew up the film as soon as we are able, once we have a schedule. Once the show is up and running, I would say the workload is probably something like 80% creative and 20% administrative for me. But there are of course some shows that tend to flip that ratio!
 

DS: How do you set up a schedule?

TN: We always work backwards from the release, and therefore the end of the deliverables and final mix. We’ll compare the budgets of other shows we feel are in the same family. So if we’re scheduling an animated movie, we might look at other animated shows we’ve done. Often the client will have a budget already in mind, and we’ll use those numbers to figure out how much time we can break that down into for various crew members and departments. But it’s always timed up to the release date. And often the clients already have a rough schedule in mind, there may be temp mixes, or early needs for the picture department.
 

DS: How do you know how many weeks is enough time? Does the company help you with that?

TN: Well it’s always really an educated guess. We’ll try and read the script at least. But we never really know for sure. But with 20 years experience you get a pretty good gut instinct of what a given show will take.
 

[tweet_box]Film sound veteran Tim Nielsen shares insight on supervising a film[/tweet_box]
DS: Do you find the work or does the company assign clients to you?

TN: A mixture of both. I have some relationships with clients and companies, and also the company is always looking for projects to bring in. Rarely, but sometimes we’ll interview for jobs. It’s really quite a mix of all of the above.
 

DS: How did you find your team? Word of mouth? Assigned by the company?

TN: As the supervisor, it’s really up to me to hire who I want, crew is never assigned. I have a regular group of people that I tend to work with, but we’re a small enough company that I know everyone in the company as well. When putting a show together it’s a blend of your regulars, and if schedules don’t allow, then it’s finding out who is available and picking the people you feel are the most right for the job.
 

DS: How often do you check in on the progress of your team members?

TN: Constantly. We all meet at least once a week, often on Monday mornings for a debrief about the coming week, make sure everyone knows what everyone is doing. Technologies like instant messaging allow fairly constant communication. We usually have lunch together, or at least some group of us. So that constant communication is really vital to a well run show. Everyone needs to know what I’m doing, and vice versa.
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:


Trending right now:

  • We freely confess: we love the idea of the magical sound of glitter. We love it when it sparkles, shines and shimmers. But no other sound libraries seem to get it right.

    So we made Glitter to offer a huge range of designed and source sparkling magic sound effects to your arsenal. Whether you need to complement particles effects, magical spells or any other fabulous wizardry, you can count on this minty fresh library to deliver dazzling audio, over and over again.

     

    The Glitter sound library is built in two distinct sections: Source and Designed. The Designed section offers rich and inspiring sounds ready to be dropped in your project. The source folder includes various recordings used to create this library, should you want to wander down the path of creating your own glittering adventures.

    Created with crackling passion by our fairy own sound designers, this masterful curated library will be sure to bring your project to a sparkling new level of awe-inspiring wonderment.

    34 %
    OFF
  • “European Birds 2” is a sound library containing many recordings of 56 different species of birds, with a focus on isolated recordings of individual birds. All sounds were recorded in England, and all recorded species can be found in continental Europe. Many recorded species can also be found in varying areas of Asia.

     

    Includes:

    • Pleasing sounds from songbirds such as Robins, Blackbirds, Finches and Wrens
    • Familiar sounds of Pigeons and Doves
    • A variety of water birds including Moorhens, Coots, and Geese
    • Raspy calls of Crows and other birds from the corvid family
    • Melodious birds of open farmland, such as Skylarks and Yellowhammers
    • Chaotic songs of summer migrant warblers
    • Forest birds such as a Tawny Owl, Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker
    • and more! (For a full list of species, see the contents summary)

     

    Features: 

    • 950+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality
    • WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided
    • UCS compliant file naming and metadata, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

  • Destruction & Impact Sounds Cataclysm Play Track 1482 sounds included $195

    Cataclysm is a vast collection of recorded, synthesized and designed sounds created to support important destructive moments and add a stronger sense of extreme consequence to any sound.

    The recorded section of library features elements such as flash powder explosions, propane cannon blasts and artillery cannons recorded in unique natural environments with violent transients and lush, long and varied tails. It also features falling trees, forge burners, large trebuchet wood groans, rock smashes as well as more ordinary items recorded and designed to feel like an over the top version of themselves such as vacuum cleaner suctions, metal vase holders, ground pounders and more.

    The synthesized section of the library features equally rich textures in the form of explosion sweeteners, other-worldly environmental reflections, scorching energy risers and more.

    Finally, recorded and synthesized content was employed to develop the designed section, where the hyperrealism of the recordings meets the clean yet aggressive textures of the synthesized section in catastrophic assets themed around the library’s title.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • Train Sound Effects Steam Trains Play Track 175 sounds included $40

    The Steam Trains library delivers 175 sound effects of three different types of steam train engines, and the clatter, rattle, and grinding of wagons.

    The collection includes riding, idling, pass-bys, departing and arriving trains, bells, whistles, steam blasts, platform atmospheres, and doors and windows.

    Engines are the heavy Santa Fe 2-10-2, the Bavarian BB 0-4-4-0 Heavy Mallet, and a 4 Wheel Switcher 0-4-0 light railway. Also included are door and window handling effects of passenger cars

    Each engine is well documented and listed in full Soundminer metadata.

    The Steam trains library also includes a “Specification Sheet” with detailed information about the trains and environments.

    Recorded with a Schoeps MK4/MK8 MS, paired with a Sound Devices 702 recorder. Some takes provide an alternative mix with recordings from an additional Sony PCM-D recorder.


Latest releases:

  • Animal Sound Effects The Animal Symphony – Watusi Play Track 183 sounds included, 10 mins total $12

    The Animal Symphony will be a series of animal recording libraries, created to offer a wide variety of authentic animal sounds. Over the next few months, each installment in this series will capture the essence of different animal species.

    General description:
    The Animal Symphony – Watusi” features a total of 52 audios, with 183 individual sounds of Watusis mooing, all recorded in exceptional quality. Using two high-end microphones, the Sennheiser MKH 8050 and an EM258 capsule microphone, we have managed to capture every detail and nuance of these natural sounds. Each recording was made at a 192 kHz, 24-bit, ensuring professional clarity and depth.

    Featured Features:
    – Variety of Watusi Sounds: Enjoy a wide range of Watusi sounds, from soft moos to powerful calls, perfect for adding realism and authenticity to your projects.
    – Diversity in Recordings: With multiple takes and variations, with long, short and group moos, so this library offers the necessary flexibility for any type of production that requires this type of animal.
    – Careful Editing: All recordings have been carefully edited to eliminate any external noise, such as birds, wind or people, ensuring pure, clean sounds.

    This collection is ideal for a variety of applications:
    – Video games: Add realism and depth to the natural environments of your games.
    – Cinema and Documentaries: African environment and scenes that require authenticity in fauna.
    – Educational Applications: Use these sounds in educational projects to teach about wildlife and animal behavior.
    – Multimedia Projects: Ideal for any project that seeks to enrich the user’s listening experience.

    Technical details:
    – Total Audios: 52
    – Total Sounds: 183
    – Format: 192kHz/24bit
    – Equipment Used: Sennheiser MKH 8050 Microphone and EM258 Capsule Microphone

    License:
    The sounds from “The Animal Symphony – Watusi” are available under a royalty-free license, allowing their use in multiple projects without additional costs or royalties. You can use these sound effects in your games, trailers, Kickstarter campaigns, and more, as many times as you like.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1717711199
  • This library covers the sounds of the Trabant 601, equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke Otto-type engine from the late 1980s.

    The driving section contains 48 tracks with a total length of about 36 minutes. These tracks include engine ramps and driving sequences at various constant RPMs, suitable for game implementation. Additionally, there are takes featuring more common driving and pass-bys, which are better suited for linear media usage. Interior and exterior mixes are also included.

    The foley section comprises 23 tracks with a total length of 8 minutes. It covers all basic sounds, such as opening and closing doors, hood and trunk, gearstick shifts, handbrake usage, and horn sounds. These sounds were primarily captured from a close perspective using a shotgun microphone.

    Microphone setup:

    • Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF) – Cabin
    • Neumann KMR81i – Cabin / Foley
    • Neumann KM184 – Exhaust
    • Shure SM11 – Engine bay
    • Shure VP88 (M/S) – Exterior
    • Tascam DR40 (XY) – Exterior
  • Sports Sound Effects Pool Play Track 351 sounds included $5.99

    This is a sound library containing the sounds of cue sports games such as pool or snooker. Includes a range of sounds such as ball interactions, potting, breaking, and more, with sounds from both a standard set of 2″ pool balls and a smaller set too.

     

    Features: 

    • 350+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided for most sounds
    • All files are metadata-tagged, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • UCS compliant file naming
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

    33 %
    OFF
  • 30 Alicante sound effects recordings of urban street life from a southern Spanish city.

  • Soar across the skies with Boeing 737 jet airliner interior clips from idling, taxiing, flying, landing, and others.

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:


DS: How much do you interact with the picture department?

TN: Quite regularly. They are often asking for sound effects, and we like to get as much in front of them, and into the Avid early on, as possible. We need that feedback before we hit the final mix stage, especially for special sound design. And if we do temp mixes, those mixes are usually loaded into the Avid, which allows the filmmakers to live with our sounds a bit, and give valuable feedback. And as time with the director can often be difficult to get, the picture editor is the one we’ll interact with more.
 

DS: How do you negotiate a budget?

TN: Like one would negotiate anything else, with back and forth communication with the client. It’s not in their best interest for us to take on a project we know isn’t funded enough for us to do the quality of work that is expected of us. I’ve found myself from time to time, having to turn down projects, simply because I didn’t believe I could do the project justice. But we get creative, find new solutions and workflows, and do our best to work with our clients to find the appropriate budget for the project and the expectations.
 

Supervising Sound Editor Tim Nielsen in his studio

DS: How do you plan out the overall sound of a film?

TN: First is just to watch it without taking notes, without thinking about it. I need that first impression of the project. Is the film working? What is the film about? Forgetting sound, but just to get my head wrapped around the project. Then a second viewing taking notes, things that I have questions about, things that seem clear from the project that will dictate sound requirements. List of things we’ll need to record or design. Sort of a roadmap through the sound of the film. At that point I’ll be thinking about which scenes and reels a certain editor might be best suited for, which things I want to tackle directly myself. And then we’ll have a sound spotting session with the director, picture editor and sometimes a producer or two. That’s where they will convey their wishes about the sound, their ideas or concerns. That conversation can be in vary basic and wide terms, or very focused, depending on the clients, and how far along they are in the picture edit. Occasionally, and this should happen more, we’ll have a script before shooting, or during, so we can be thinking about the film even that early on. But once the project starts, it’s a constant juggling of resources, time, money… we’ll adapt often to the needs of the film, and so there is a never a plan at the very beginning that isn’t constantly modifying itself as we go along.
 

DS: How do you assign people on your team to different jobs or specific sounds? Are you more inclined to give them a reel or are you more inclined to assign a specific subject to cut?

TN: Editors working with me always are given reels. I feel like it’s very important that a single voice be in charge of a larger piece of the movie in that way. Of course I may also have them doing specific scenes, but I want them to have that overall say in their work too. I may take a few specific things within that reel, but mostly it’s theirs to cut. We’ll sit and spot it together, I’ll make clear what things I’ll be doing, or what sounds I intend to make, and then it’s just quite a bit of back and forth. But I always allow them their own first pass. I want to hear their ideas, often they have ideas that surprise me and things that I didn’t think about. After that first pass, we’ll do a lot of back and forth as we hone and polish the reel to what the film needs, and what the clients are expecting.
 

DS: How much input do you give on the mix? Or do you leave it largely to the re-recording mixer and director?

My job doesn’t end with the mix, my job ends once the mix is delivered.

TN: A lot of input. If it’s something these days that I’m not mixing, I’m still present in the room the entire mix, and I always have ideas and suggestions and questions. That’s my job. My job doesn’t end with the mix, my job ends once the mix is delivered. But my job as the supervising sound editor continues all through the mix, and it’s very important to me to be there. I love the collaboration with the mixers, they bring to it their expertise and experiences. But I would never just sit back and not be involved. By the time we hit the mix, I’ve often been on the project for months, and I have a very good idea of how it should sound, how the clients are expecting it to sound, etc.
 

DS: What’s the difference in supervising TV and film? Do you have a different approach?

TN: There isn’t really any difference in the larger picture. Budgets are smaller and schedules are tighter. Crews are smaller. You have to sometimes get a bit creative and inventive to figure out how to make the money stretch as far as it will go. But it’s still storytelling, and there are still schedules and budgets and clients and all the rest. So really there isn’t that much difference.
 

DS: Do you have anything else that you’d like to add?

TN: I think your questions really covered it all!
 

Thank you Tim Nielsen for sharing some insight into the world of sound supervision.

You can find Tim Nielsen on IMDb here, on Twitter here, and at Skywalker Sound here.

 

Please share this:


 



 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:

  • Dinosaurs Vol. 2 is the second edition of our popular Dinosaurs sound effects series.

    This library contains a wealth of pre-historic sound effects, covering a range of different dinosaur types. Inside we have carnivores, herbivores, scavengers, flyers and even baby dinosaurs, allowing you to craft your own custom Jurassic soundscape.

    To create this collection, our audio craftsmen unleashed their inner Dinosaur, recording a diverse array of sounds that includes roars, growls, sniffs, breathing, eating, and eggs hatching.

    This library is perfect for use in monster movie projects such as Godzilla, King Kong, Jurassic Park, and is also well suited to covering video game creatures and enemies.

    All files are supplied in 24Bit 96kHz allowing for further sonic manipulation and have been tagged with extensive UCS compliant metadata for ease of use.

    20 %
    OFF
  • Creature Sound Effects Dinosaurs Play Track 32 sounds included $16.80

    Witness the terrible and wondrous sounds of the long gone rulers of Earth, with our new library, Dinosaurs, containing audio brought back from 65 million years in the past.

    Our Audio Craftsmen have captured the roars, rumbles and groans of a variety of Dinosaurs, from Triceratops to the King himself, T-Rex!

    All sounds were recorded in our acoustically treated Foley suite in 24Bit 96kHz allowing further sonic manipulation. We then meticulously edited and tagged the files with extensive UCS compliant metadata for ease of use.

    20 %
    OFF
  • Vielklang Instant Harmony 2 is an instrument for easy generation of harmonies from an audio or MIDI melody. The utilization of voice leading and harmony progression models allows vielklang to create harmony parts in a more musical way than traditional harmony processors and makes it a versatile and creative tool for musicians, songwriters and producers.

    vielklang utilizes zplane´s widely-used élastique SOLOIST engine for high quality pitch shifting and time stretching.


    The new version introduces the following features:

    • advanced pitch editing with direct tool access
    • new sleek interface
    • vibrato and tremolo generator
    • hybrid view for score-like harmony visualization
    • MIDI harmonization
    • multiple file harmonization
    • Instant Harmony V2.0 & Advanced Pitch Editing
    • Harmonize your melody with one single click – loading a single-voiced audio file – and create natural-sounding background choirs and brass arrangements.


    vielklang Instant Harmony generates harmonies with 2-4 voices. It is packed with musical intelligence and music theory: it detects the best fitting harmonies for each individual input melody, and automatically synthesizes up to four voices with the voices not merely running in parallel but with their voicings selected to sound most natural (voice leading).

    The advanced pitch editing controls (full version only!) give you fast and easy access to pitch, timing, vibrato control, formant shift, and to many more editing options.

    DOWNLOAD THE DEMO HERE
    WIN | MAC

Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Animal Sound Effects The Animal Symphony – Watusi Play Track 183 sounds included, 10 mins total $12

    The Animal Symphony will be a series of animal recording libraries, created to offer a wide variety of authentic animal sounds. Over the next few months, each installment in this series will capture the essence of different animal species.

    General description:
    The Animal Symphony – Watusi” features a total of 52 audios, with 183 individual sounds of Watusis mooing, all recorded in exceptional quality. Using two high-end microphones, the Sennheiser MKH 8050 and an EM258 capsule microphone, we have managed to capture every detail and nuance of these natural sounds. Each recording was made at a 192 kHz, 24-bit, ensuring professional clarity and depth.

    Featured Features:
    – Variety of Watusi Sounds: Enjoy a wide range of Watusi sounds, from soft moos to powerful calls, perfect for adding realism and authenticity to your projects.
    – Diversity in Recordings: With multiple takes and variations, with long, short and group moos, so this library offers the necessary flexibility for any type of production that requires this type of animal.
    – Careful Editing: All recordings have been carefully edited to eliminate any external noise, such as birds, wind or people, ensuring pure, clean sounds.

    This collection is ideal for a variety of applications:
    – Video games: Add realism and depth to the natural environments of your games.
    – Cinema and Documentaries: African environment and scenes that require authenticity in fauna.
    – Educational Applications: Use these sounds in educational projects to teach about wildlife and animal behavior.
    – Multimedia Projects: Ideal for any project that seeks to enrich the user’s listening experience.

    Technical details:
    – Total Audios: 52
    – Total Sounds: 183
    – Format: 192kHz/24bit
    – Equipment Used: Sennheiser MKH 8050 Microphone and EM258 Capsule Microphone

    License:
    The sounds from “The Animal Symphony – Watusi” are available under a royalty-free license, allowing their use in multiple projects without additional costs or royalties. You can use these sound effects in your games, trailers, Kickstarter campaigns, and more, as many times as you like.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1717711199
  • This library covers the sounds of the Trabant 601, equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke Otto-type engine from the late 1980s.

    The driving section contains 48 tracks with a total length of about 36 minutes. These tracks include engine ramps and driving sequences at various constant RPMs, suitable for game implementation. Additionally, there are takes featuring more common driving and pass-bys, which are better suited for linear media usage. Interior and exterior mixes are also included.

    The foley section comprises 23 tracks with a total length of 8 minutes. It covers all basic sounds, such as opening and closing doors, hood and trunk, gearstick shifts, handbrake usage, and horn sounds. These sounds were primarily captured from a close perspective using a shotgun microphone.

    Microphone setup:

    • Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF) – Cabin
    • Neumann KMR81i – Cabin / Foley
    • Neumann KM184 – Exhaust
    • Shure SM11 – Engine bay
    • Shure VP88 (M/S) – Exterior
    • Tascam DR40 (XY) – Exterior
  • Sports Sound Effects Pool Play Track 351 sounds included $5.99

    This is a sound library containing the sounds of cue sports games such as pool or snooker. Includes a range of sounds such as ball interactions, potting, breaking, and more, with sounds from both a standard set of 2″ pool balls and a smaller set too.

     

    Features: 

    • 350+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided for most sounds
    • All files are metadata-tagged, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • UCS compliant file naming
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

    33 %
    OFF
  • 30 Alicante sound effects recordings of urban street life from a southern Spanish city.

  • Soar across the skies with Boeing 737 jet airliner interior clips from idling, taxiing, flying, landing, and others.


   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.