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Features & Interviews

Making The Cut: Career Advice From…‘Game of Thrones’ Sound Recordist Ronan Hill
07 Nov 2012 : By Dylan Newe
Ronan Hill has won an Emmy Award for 'Game of Thrones'
Emmy Award winner and two-time IFTA winner, Ronan Hill is one of the most in-demand production sound mixers and sound recordists working in Ireland.

Internationally acclaimed, his 20-year career has seen him work across a range of documentaries, TV shows, feature films and shorts, including such acclaimed productions as ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Hunger’. Here he share his tips and recommendations for getting ahead in sound...

Generally my day begins… with a quick discussion with the other members of my team concerning anticipated coverage. I then configure the sound cart for the scene in-hand, ensuring booms, radio mics and any other sources are routed through the mixer and armed on the recorder. Working from ‘sides’ - the daily script pages - I try to make sure we are covered for all eventualities.

The most common misconception people have about my job is… from people who don't work in the business who sometimes think the job must be glamorous. This would be a very bad reason to enter the film industry. The job of the production sound mixer is to ensure dialogue and effects are recorded to a high standard and thus curtail the need for costly ADR (automated dialogue replacement).

You can spend long days in muddy fields with the rain pouring down on you and long hours repeating the action of a scene. You really need to have a good interest in the job you are doing and the focus to sustain this throughout.

The practical tips I would give to somebody trying to break in the industry are… to work with someone experienced. If you have a burning desire to do sound, this is really the best way to get experience. If you apply to join a training scheme such as Northern Ireland Screen’s Aim High you can then be placed on productions like ‘Game of Thrones’ where valuable experience can be gained.

The person who helped me get where I am today is… my father Patsy Hill. Although there have been many people who have helped me progress in my career I would have to single him out. He was a freelance cameraman for many years covering our troubled past in the North and also covering features such as presidential, papal and royal visits. He started my career as a sound mixer when I was aged eight.

I have a love/hate relationship with the job… as, when a job is in production, there is always the professional pressure and stress of achieving good results with environmental and other issues going against you. When the production is over and the rose tinted glasses go on, it doesn't seem so bad. Watching a screening in a theatre or on television is my time to relax and appreciate our endeavours.

For inspiration check out… anything recorded by Belfast-born, renowned production sound mixer Peter J Devlin. Peter has four Oscar nominations; four Cinema Audio Society (CAS) nominations and a BAFTA nomination for his outstanding work, on films such as ‘Pearl Harbour’, ‘Transformers’ and ‘Star Trek’.

In terms of online resources, professional bodies such as CAS, Association of Motion Picture Sound(AMPS) and Institute of Professional Sound(IPS) have good websites with articles on sound equipment and recording techniques. Trew Audio and Sound Devices web sites are also worth a look.

Ronan Hill was speaking in conversation with IFTN's Dylan Newe

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