CAREER GUIDE Friday, April 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India
A sound option
Sanjay Austa
O you have a good ear? Can you decipher good and bad sounds? Are you a music aficionado? If your answer to any of the above is yes, sound recording could be a career option for you. A relatively new field, sound-recording or engineering is a career that is coming up in a big way.


A sound option
Sanjay Austa

DO you have a good ear? Can you decipher good and bad sounds? Are you a music aficionado? If your answer to any of the above is yes, sound recording could be a career option for you. A relatively new field, sound-recording or engineering is a career that is coming up in a big way.

In the era of media explosion, it makes for an exciting career option. However, because of its newness not many people know the basic function of a sound recordist. Just to get an idea of how important a sound recordist is, try watching your television programme with the mute button on and off alternately. The difference is all there to see.

Film and television have come a long way from the silent era, where there was no sound and every dialogue had to be conveyed in captions. With the birth of the “talkis”, film-making now rests on four pillars — direction, cinematography, editing and sound-recording.

Besides recording for television and films, the sound recordist can have a career in acoustics, where he can design auditoriums, concert halls and sound studios. With his special training, the sound recordist knows the quality of sound, its boominess in halls and its character. In everything that he does, the sound recordist works like a good filter so that there is low noise co-efficient.

There are primarily four professional institutes that have a good course for budding sound recordists. The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata (SRFTI) top the list. These two institutes are, in fact, technically on a par with any other sound-recording course (as well as any other course in film-making) in the world.

It is a post-graduation course that runs for four years. This is a highly specialised and technical course involving high-end equipment, computer-based software and professional electronic equipment. The FTII and the SRFTI have well-stocked film and print libraries, besides having their own archives. The archives at the FTII are especially good since the institute is 40 years old. Understandably, the selection criteria in these two institutes is a little tough. The admission seekers are required to be graduates in science with a sound grounding in physics. “It is a viable option for anyone who has done BSc because there are not many options before him”, says Girja Shanker Vohra, a young sound recordist who graduated from the SRFTI.

The paper in the FTII is particularly very technical. It has a four-day orientation for the short-listed candidates. A distinguished panel of film-makers, including technicians, are invited for conducting the interview.

Besides these two national institutes, there are two state-run institutes. Adyar Film Institute in Chennai offers a three-year graduation course and can be availed straight after class XII.

The School of Audio Engineering, Chennai, is a course exclusively for sound. It is also a post-graduate course, but it is not compulsory to be a science graduate to apply here.

A technical person like a sound recordist has more financial returns than his counterpart, for example, the director or editor. He also has more employment opportunities and can do a variety of projects ranging from documentary, corporates, radio, film, television, etc. This is unlike, for example, the director who gets branded. But ironically sound recording is the least favoured course in almost all film institutes. The most popular course is direction and cinematography.

There is no placement by any institute, but because there are only few sound recordists to cater to the boom in film, television and radio-based programmes, there is no problem in getting jobs or assignments. A sound recordist can opt for freelance work and pick and choose his assignments or he or she can work in a sound studio. A sound recordist can begin with a monthly salary of 7000 to 15000 and with time and experience can earn up to Rs 2 lakh a month.

However, ignorance and lack of awareness about this course keeps youngsters from opting for this career option.

Sudip Charkravati, who works as a sound recordist in a studio in Delhi, says his parents were doctors and wanted him to follow suit. “They did not know what my institute and course was all about. For them someone studying in a film institute meant he was going to become an actor”, he says.

Agrees Girja Vohra, who works on a freelance basis, “Films were not considered a noble profession. Thankfully this mindset is changing”, he says.


What is scuba-diving?

Q I am keen to learn diving. Are there any recognised courses? What is scuba diving?

Manpreet Kaur

A The Diving School, INS Venduruthi, Naval Base, Kochi, offers a 10-week certificate course which is conducted on the lines of HSE (Health & Safety Executive, UK), Part I. On qualifying you will be certified to work up to a depth of 55 metres using air diving equipment. The certificate is issued by the Indian Navy on behalf of MoD/GoI. The course is open to male Indian citizens (18-28 yrs) who are fluent in Hindi/English with 50% or more marks in class 10 or SSLC. You must also be a good swimmer with physical stamina. A medical certificate testifying to your fitness to withstand strenuous physical activity. There are only twenty seats in this rather expensive course which costs Rs 85,000/-. The screening charges are Rs 4800/-. The next course commences in July.

Scuba-diving involves going under water carrying scuba (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). This consists of a cylinder of compressed air (oxygen) and a tube through which you breathe the air.

The scuba diver wears a diving suit, while in ordinary diving, no such special equipment is used by the diver. Ordinary diving is for a very short duration (because of no oxygen supply) as compared to scuba diving.

Graphic designing

Q What is graphic designing and how should I prepare for a career in this field?

Pamminder Singh

A Graphic designing is a key component of commercial art that involves several related disciplines such as typography, illustration, photography, painting, etc. Graphic designers work with print, film, pictures and patterns. They layout text and pictures for books and magazines, advertisements, posters, greeting cards, calendars, stationery, sales brochures, product packaging, POPs (point of purchase material), credit and title sequences of films, outdoor media like hoardings and kiosks, TV and websites.

Although the traditional skills of the hand still remain prized, the computer has become an indispensable tool for today’s graphic designer. But knowledge of design software or multimedia is a facilitator, definitely not a substitute for designing skills.

Anyone who wishes to make a career in this field of art must possess a keen sense of aesthetics combined with loads of creativity and imagination. An eye for colour and the ability to sketch is equally essential.

Today, graphic designers have a plethora of choices. These range from being part of creative teams in advertising agencies, publishing houses, in dotcoms, software and television production houses, art schools and in corporate communications departments of companies. Yet others work with NGOs on social communication, while others choose to freelance, or set up their own design studios.

After gaining sufficient experience, you also have the option of freelancing and eventually setting up your own design studio. Premier institutes specialising in graphic design are the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, IIT, Mumbai, and IIT, Guwahati. Graphic design is a specialisation offered in the Bachelor of Fine/ Applied Visual Art/Design courses at all leading art colleges such as the Sir JJ Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai; the College of Art Delhi, Chandigarh and Lucknow; Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi; Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan (WB); Govt. College of Arts & Crafts, Kolkata; Banaras Hindu University, etc. While the courses at the degree level are of 4 years duration, the diplomas offered by polytechnics and private institutes range from a few months to a couple of years. Most of these institutions, including the IITs, also offer courses at the Master’s level.


Q I wish to take the associate membership of the Indian Institute of Ceramics. Could you please give me some details about this institute.

Kapil Singh

A The Indian Institute of Ceramics, Kolkata, conducts a two-part Associate Membership Exam. The AME from IIC is recognised as equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Ceramics Technology. IIC provides all necessary study material to help you prepare for the exam consisting of theoretical, practical, and viva-voce. If you are a science graduate or a diploma-holder in ceramics, you are eligible for admission. In either case, you also require 2 years of work experience in the field. BSc graduates must have maths as one of the subjects along with physics/chemistry/geology. For further information, contact: Indian Institute of Ceramics: Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute, P.O. Jadavpur University, Kolkata 700032.

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to: Editor, Query Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at