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Sound career options

With so many films, TV shows and private albums happening, the demand for audio professionals is peaking. Two new institutes offer to teach you all the skills you need

A few months ago, aspiring audio engineers had to approach studios in Chennai, plead for time, and learn recording skills by watching other recordists at work. No longer. The city today boasts two institutes that teach audio engineering.

Says David Santwan, Managing Director, Orange Pale Manufacturing, which launched a basics of audio engineering course in July, "We start with the physics of sound, and show how sound operates in digital and analog environments." Digital means computers, and analog refers to the older spool and valve technology.

A small studio in Orange Pale is connected to a practise room for musicians. "We have a Sonic Digital workstation, which enables us to teach our students the techniques of live recording. Musicians use our room to rehearse for shows and demo CDs," explains Santwan.

Orange Pale accommodates five students in a batch. They first sit for theory classes. The course spans three weeks, after which students can continue to fine-tune their skills according to their requirements. The company plans advanced courses in sound mixing and mastering.

School of Audio Engineering (SAE), based in Sydney, recently opened a centre in Chennai. "We have monitored developments in the music and entertainment industry, and find that the demand for video and multimedia professionals is increasing. We thought this was the right time to start our centre," says Rathish Babu, director of SAE's Chennai centre.

Among the courses on offer is a BA honours in audio engineering, which teaches "how technology can be adapted to different musical traditions of the world". Students are also taught copyright law, and multimedia.

The qualification for the BA honours course is SAE's six-month diploma in audio engineering. "The longer course prepares the student to handle both pre-production and post-production, and sound and visual editing," says Rathish Babu. SAE also offers a certificate course in basic audio engineering.

Accredited to the International Council of Academic Colleges, SAE runs courses certified by the University of Middlesex in England. These are also recognised by the State Education Department in the US, which means students can continue their education in that country. SAE admits 15 students to a batch. Students are trained in Western music also.

"We offer no job guarantee, but we often receive inquiries from studios and recording theatres, and can direct our students to such places ... it is up to individuals to prove their worth," explains Santwan.

SAE conducted a survey which showed that audio professionals are in great demand. "Even if we turn out 90 students in a year, they can find jobs immediately. SAE has only one centre in India. The overall demand in the country is large," says Rathish Babu.

As the music industry grows, audio engineering courses can open doors to young people looking for a career at the studios. Many, like Ashok Cherian, who works as a course coordinator at Orange Pale, believe these courses are necessary for radio jockeys too. "FM is going to happen in a big way in Chennai. I think the demand will increase for audio professionals who can handle live programmes."

L Subramani

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