Audio Recording and Sound Design Department

 

BRIEF HISTORY

 

With the development of audiovisual and electronic media in the second half of the twentieth century, a growing need for creative sound expression appeared. The expansion of the sound use in the media created the space for a higher number of properly educated staff dealing with sound creation. The idea of providing sound recorders and designers in our region with university education was born in mid -70s of the previous century. At that time, the commission was formed consisting of representatives from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and the then RTV Belgrade. A proposal for establishing the Department was made in 1985. Two years later, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia decided to make ‘Graduate Sound Recordist’ a university education profile. However, the beginning of studies for sound recording and design at the Faculty was delayed for a longer period of time due to administrative obstacles.

Despite this, the need for proper way of recording, editing, and creating of sound could not be stopped, so in 1985, Rihard Merc, Senior Expert Associate, became the first teacher at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade for the Sound recording and editing course for the students of Directing, Editing and Camera departments. Working at the Faculty as a teacher and on RTV Belgrade as a sound recorder and designer, professor Merc joined his professional and educational experience by reviewing all the complexity of these positions, and formed a proposal to start the education of future sound recorders and designers. During the spring of 1996, professor Merc organized seminars at the FDA for sound recording assistants, which became the School of Sound with twelve vocational courses that same year in fall.

The School of Sound gathered prospective teachers and enabled the creation of the first syllabuses of certain courses. This has helped to reactivate the old idea and prompt the preparatory work for establishing the Department. The FDA Dean at the time, professor Ljiljana Mrkić-Popović, Ph.D., together with professor Rihard Merc, started the preparation and development of the curriculum for the Sound Recording and Design Department. By the end of March 1997, the Faculty received the general consent from the Ministry of Education to establish the Department. Over the course of the upcoming months, numerous meetings and sessions were held at the FDA and the University of Arts where the need to establish the Department and proposed curricula were reviewed. On 21 August 1997, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia approved the establishing of the Sound Recording and Editing Department which soon changed its name to the Sound Recording and Design Department. Thus, the FDA became the first university school in the Southeast Europe providing four-year education in the field of sound recording and design.

More than twenty years after the first commission, where Rihard Merc participated from the beginning, was formed, he became the Full Professor, founder and the first Head of Sound Recording and Design Department.

The entrance exam for the first generation of students with 64 applicants was held in September 1997. After three selection rounds, 11 applicants were chosen to form the first generation of students at the Sound Recording and Design Department.

There are several significant dates in the history of the Department:

1 October 1997: formal beginning of classes at the Department. This date is celebrated as a Day of the Sound Recording and Design Department.

28 June 2001: first time a student graduated from the Department (Dragutin Ćirković).

14 December 2001: Rihard Merc, Full Professor, founder of the Sound Recording and Design Department, was awarded the Great Plaque of the University of Arts with a Charter, for his exceptional credit and contribution to the development of the University of Arts and Faculty of Dramatic Arts.

15 September 2005: Olivera Kristić, Teaching Assistant at the time, graduate of the first class of students from the Sound Recording and Design Department, obtained a Magister Degree.

18 March 2011: mr Zoran Maksimović, Assistant Professor at the time, graduate of the first class of students from the Sound Recording and Design Department, obtained a Ph.D.

1 October 2017: The Department marked its 20th anniversary.

 

In the 1997-2019 period, the Heads of the Department were: Rihard Merc, Full Professor, Zoran Jerković, Assistant Professor, Dragutin Ćirković, Associate Professor, Ljubiša Špegar, Full Professor and drama artist Zoran Maksimović, Full Professor

 

CURRENT STATE

 

Twenty years later, the statistics show exceptional success of the Department. There were around 2 thousand applicants for the studies at the Sound Recording and Design Department, over 200 students were enrolled, 50 of whom graduated according to the old curriculum and 100 more according to the new curriculum for undergraduate studies. Eight out of eleven of our teachers and associates graduated the Sound Recording and Design Department.

Teachers and associates of the Sound Recording and Design Department have become the leaders in creative thinking in their respective fields, proven experts and professionals, whose impressive professional careers are marked with successful cooperation with the most significant names of the national and international artistic scene and confirmed by the most prestigious awards in the field of sound in national (Golden Arena, Golden Mimosa, Crystal Prism, Gold Medal of Belgrade, Golden Microphone, YUSTAT, FEDOR, TAKTONS...) and international festivals (Prix Italia, Premio Ondas, Acustica International, EFA nominations, awards in biennales and film festivals around the world).

We may proudly emphasize the fact that students of the Sound Recording and Design Department have made a turning point in the approach and attitude towards sound in the Serbian cinematography but also the cinematography in the wider region. With exceptional involvement and enthusiasm, knowledge and experience given by the first teachers of the Department, and inspired by love for their profession, the first generations of students managed, for the first time, to position the sound in the Serbian film near the level and standard of modern European and American films. This enthusiasm spread to all other students in generations that followed who currently successfully use their knowledge in almost all the countries of the region but also in many western cinematographies. It could be said that the Sound Recording and Design Department became the generator of human resources of the highest quality and the source of creative thinking in the field of sound in this part of Europe. This is confirmed by repeated participation of teachers and students of the Department at the most prestigious international professional meetings, such as School of Sound in London, International Film-Music & Sound Design Biennale in Bonn, and AES conferences around the world.

In the past decade, the students of the Sound Recording and Design Department won almost all students’ and professional guild awards in the ex-Yugoslav region, but also several significant European and international awards. They demonstrate their knowledge, creativity, skill, and competence in all areas related to sound.

The role of the Department, its students, and especially graduates with jobs within the field of their expertise, in planning, developing, and implementation of sound in TV and radio stations, theaters and other producing houses, should not be neglected. The progress in the way sound is treated during the entire production is indisputably seen in all the media maintaining high standards. Our students and graduate sound designers hold leading positions as heads of their sectors and reputable creatives who contribute, with their influence, to the improvement of quality and establishing standards, while they present the driving force and unavoidable link in the creation of all types of programs.

It is clear today that the sound recorder and designer is an artistic profession. The complexity of sound image creation in film, television, theater and radiophony necessitates detailed knowledge in sound dramaturgy, high creativity and esthetics, a good ear and a sense of rhythm. Bachelor of Arts in Sound Recording and Design is an artist in the field of recording, design, and realization of sound in the media. They actively perform the artistic practice - sound design, creating a sound image in accordance with dramaturgical and style requirements of the given task. They have a confident and fine ear and are extremely literate in terms of music. They are experts in specificities of speech apparatus, musical instruments, and their acoustic properties. They are able to successfully use technical possibilities of complex audio systems and are competent in new technologies. They are well familiar with the nature of audiovisual expressive resources within the film, television, radio, theater, and the new interactive media.

Sound recordists and designers are present in all the media: radio and TV stations, music and production studios; they are hired by film production houses, theaters, companies dealing with organization of stage and music events. They have also found their place in the field of multimedia and interactive media, where the special position belongs to production of video games.

 

ORGANIZATION OF CLASSES

 

Undergraduate academic studies on the Sound Recording and Design Department last for four years (8 semesters).

To enroll the undergraduate studies, the applicants take the affinities and abilities test, which includes four selection rounds. The first round is a test in general knowledge, film, television, radio, theater, music, and audio technology. In the second round involves testing musicality and a written analysis of sound image in a film clip. The third round tests the ability to identify sound, and the background knowledge in audio technology and computing. The final round involves testing of applicants’ creative potentials to set the relation of sound resources in simple musical and drama content, an analysis of the submitted mandatory practical work, and a general interview with applicants to test their affinities, interests, personality traits, etc.

Classes at the Sound Recording and Design Department are organized in both sections of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts: Film and Television and Theater and Radio Section. The studies include four major, artistic courses: Sound Recording, Sound Recording and Design for Film and Television, Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio, and Music Recording.

 

During the first year of undergraduate studies, within the Sound Recording course, the students are introduced to basic principles of setting the microphone to record speech, sound effects, background noise, and the basics of operating audio devices. Moreover, students acquire practice by being involved in microphoning activities during joint practical classes with students from other departments of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, and are prepared for more complex recording procedures in the upcoming years of study.

 

During the second year, within the course Sound Recording and Design for FTV 1 and 2, students obtain basic knowledge in sound recording in the field and studio, in different film and television forms. At this year of study, our students are leaders of the sound recording teams in joint practical classes of the Film and Television section.

Within the course Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio 1 and 2, students acquire basic knowledge on preparing and realization of different types of radio program, and create a sound image of simple radio content based on their own ideas.

 

The third year gives students an insight into post-production of sound in film and television within the course Sound Recording and Design for FTV 3 and 4. They deal with principles of post-synchronous recording of speech and sound effects, basic principles of sound editing and mixing, and realization of more complex TV programs.

Classes within the Music Recording 1 and 2 course provide students with basic knowledge on microphone setting for different musical instruments and the principles of recording different music genres.

Within the Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio 3 and 4 course, students get an insight into the principles of stage sound design, realization of plays, particularities of direct sound mixing during events on the stage, and the possibilities to create sound in such conditions.

 

During the fourth year of studies, within the Sound Recording and Design 5 and 6 course, students expand the acquired knowledge on post-production of the sound for film, improve the principles of sound mixing, introduce the formats for multi-channel sound reproduction in the media, and the features of sound post-production in the appropriate format.

The Music Recording 3 and 4 course, gives students guidelines for mixing music of different genres, shows particularities and diversities of the approach to sound editing in music formats and the ways of preparing materials for mastering in appropriate sound formats.

The Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio 5 and 6 course deals with radio drama as the most complex form of radiophony, creative aspects of sound application, dedicated use of sound and expressive means and their application in modern radiophony and theater.

 

In addition to majors, the following courses are also included: Sound Editing, Introduction to Letter Notation, Musical Instruments, Applied Music, Audio Devices and Systems, Acoustics and Basics of Audio Technology. The students at the Sound Recording and Design Department also take a number of mandatory and elective theoretical and vocational and artistic courses with students of other departments of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. The aim of all these courses is to provide students with basic background knowledge in a wider sense and prepare them to master the skills in their field, but also help them widen their creative thinking in the sound design procedure.

By passing all exams during the undergraduate studies, the students acquire the academic title of: Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic and Audiovisual Arts - Sound Recordist and Designer

A precondition for enrolling M.A. Studies are previously completed undergraduate artistic academic studies. The entrance exam consists in presenting the individual author’s work in the field of sound design, realization of practical work during the exam, and an interview with applicants to test their artistic potentials.

 During one-year M.A. studies, within the Sound Recording and Design for FTV 7 and 8 course, students perfect their knowledge in the field of sound recording and post-production for the most complex film and television structures. The Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio 7 and 8 course entails studying highly esthetic forms of radio creativity such as ‘musique concrete’, but also the most complex forms of stage sound design and providing sound equipment for manifestations. In addition to these ones, the following artistic courses are included as well: Classical Music Recording, Popular Music Recording, and Sound Design in Multimedia; and the elective theoretical and artistic courses and theoretical and methodological courses, which make the obligatory part of the M.A. study program.

Above all, the classes are focused on pure creative work in audiovisual forms, the capability to leave ‘personal mark’ in the sound expression and development of sense to use novelties in the sound image, and creating foundation to do theoretical and practical work at higher levels of studies. 

By passing all of the exams and defending the final paper (Master Thesis), students acquire the title of: Master of Arts in Dramatic and Audiovisual Arts - Sound Recordist and Designer

Sound design is studied within Ph.D. artistic studies in dramatic and audiovisual arts at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts through the courses Sound Design 1, 2 and 3. The syllabus includes studying the perception phenomenon and sound psychology, relationships between sound and space and sound and image, and the critical review of sound use as an expressive means in the media.

By taking the Sound Design as their major, students may do their Ph.D. artistic project in the field of sound design.

By passing all of the exams and defending the Ph.D. artistic project, the students acquire the academic title of Ph.D. in Dramatic and Audiovisual Arts, and they have an option to continue with their education at post-doctoral artistic studies.

Rounding the fifteen-year period since the foundation of the Sound Recording and Design Department up to now, we may proudly say that the option to study the arts of sound design at such a high level presents the peak and the result of a longtime struggle to provide this artistic discipline with the position in the academic world it deserves.

 

TEACHERS AND ASSOCIATES

 

The first generations of students were led by the following teachers and associates of the Sound Recording and Design Department: Rihard Merc, Full Professor (Sound Recording, Sound Recording and Design for FTV), Ljubiša Špegar, Full Professor. (Sound Recording and Design for FTV), Đuro Sanader, Assistant Professor (Sound Recording, Stage Sound Design), Zoran Jerković, Assistant Professor (Radio Sound Recording and Design), Petar Marić, Senior Expert Associate (Stage Sound Design), Svetolik Zajc, Associate Professor (Sound Editing), Đorđe Petrović, Senior Expert Associate FMA (Music Recording), Miomir Mijić, Ph.D., Associate Professor FTS (Acoustics, Basics of Audio Technology), Miloš Gavanski, Senior Expert Associate (Audio Devices and Systems), Rajko Maksimović, Full Professor FMA (Musical Instruments, Introduction to Letter Notation), Zoran Simjanović, Full Professor (Applied Music) and Nikola Lorencin, Full Professor (Sound Directing).

Over the course of 22 years since its existence, the Department has included the following teachers and associates: Zoran Filipović, Senior Expert Associate (Basics of Sound Recording and Design for FTV), mr Olivera Kristić-Gračanin, Teaching Assistant (Stage Sound Design), Velibor Hajduković, Senior Expert Associate (Sound Recording and Design for FTV), Zoran Marinković, Expert Associate (Radio Sound Recording and Design, Music Recording), Ljubinko Gordić, Expert Associate (Music Recording), Aleksandar Protić, Teaching Fellow (Sound Editing), Aleksandar Perišić-Spasić, Teaching Fellow (Sound Editing), Dora Filipović, Teaching Fellow (Sound Editing, Sound Recording and Editing for Theater and Radio) and Draško Adžić, Expert Associate (Applied Music, Musical Instruments and Introduction to Letter Notation).

Current teaching staff of the Sound Recording and Design Department comprises: Ljubiša Špegar, Full Professor (Sound Recording and Design for FTV, Sound Design for Long Forms), Boris Despot, Ph.D., Full Professor (Applied Music, Musical Instruments, Introduction to Letter Notation), Miomir Mijić, Ph.D., Full Professor FTS (Acoustics, Basics of Audio Technology), Dragutin Ćirković, Full Professor (Sound Recording, Basics of Sound Recording), Nikola Kokotović, Full professor (Sound Recording and Design for FTV, Audio Devices and Systems), drama artist Zoran Maksimović, Full Professor (Sound Recording and Design for FTV, Basics of Sound Post-Production, Sound Design), Dejan Pejović, Associate Professor (Music Recording, Music Production, Creative Music Production), Ognjen Popić, Associate Professor (Sound Editing, Basics of Sound Editing, Sound Recording and Design for FTV), drama artist Slobodan Stanković, Associate Professor (Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio, Basics of Sound Recording and Design for Radio), drama artist Dobrivoje Milijanović, Associate Professor (Sound Recording and Design for Theater and Radio, Sound Design for Multimedia), Dino Dolničar, Assistant Professor (Music Recording, Music Production, Sound Recording and Design for FTV), Pavle Dinulović, Teaching Assistant, and Graduate Student Instructors: Slobodan Mihajlović and Sanja Đuričić.