Vanity Fair has published an article featuring Mark Stoeckinger, who gives an overview of the sound editing process, step-by-step, by showcasing several clips (Full mix, dialogue only, and sfx only).
If you’ve ever lost money in an Oscar pool, at some point you’ve had to ask, “What exactly is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing?” Although that probably means you’re not winning the pool, a film’s sound design is just as crucial as good lighting or smart editing in creating the movie magic that your recreational Flipcam videos lack. Ever in the service of making you a better Oscar gambler, Little Gold Men asked Unstoppable’s supervising sound editor, Mark Stoeckinger—nominated this year for an Oscar—to break down editing for us. “The sound editor is like the art director, and the sound mixer is like the cinematographer: the art director comes up with everything that’s filmed, and the cinematographer decides how to photograph it,” Stoeckinger says. Specifically, a sound editor assembles all the sound you hear in the final picture, which is gathered from both production sound captured the day of shooting (usually, though not exclusively, dialogue) and Foley/effects captured later (usually including dialogue recorded later to match the picture). A sound editor then selects the right pieces of sound to accompany the picture and manipulates them as needed, a process Stoeckinger compares to sculpting clay: “You start off with one thing, but you can always mold it to something else. You listen to a lion growl and think, If I slow it down, add a lot of reverb and reverse, I can make it this alien thing.” In fact, as sound tools have become more sophisticated, the the desire to enrich a film through its sound has grown exponentially; these days, even a typical romantic comedy has more sound work than an action movie from 30 years ago did.