Engineering in the Film Industry
Sound Engineering Technicians
Sound engineering technicians are needed to develop all of the different audio incorporated throughout a film. These technicians are trained to use special sound equipment and computers to record sounds used in the movie, as well as mix audio and synchronize audio with each scene. Sound engineering technicians also help create sound effects and apply background music to the film. These professionals need a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate's degree.
Along with electrical engineers, mechanical engineers are typically utilized by the film industry to create props and various special effects. These engineers specialize in designing and making a wide range of mechanical devices that fulfill a specific purpose, and in this case, a particular special effect in the film. They typically conduct research and use computer-aided design for their prototypes, which they then test and redesign as needed. Mechanical engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and have to be licensed to work with the public.
Software developers are utilized in the film industry to create programs and special effects for primarily animated movies, but other productions as well. These developers must understand the needs of the film and then design software or expand current programs to meet those needs. They test these programs to ensure that they function properly and keep detailed records of a system in order to provide proper maintenance. Software developers usually need a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science.
With the popularity of outer-space movies, some films may consult aerospace engineers when designing spaceships, rockets and other space technology props to make them more realistic. Traditionally, aerospace engineers design and test a variety of space projects, such as satellites, missiles and spacecrafts. They carefully evaluate each design and product to ensure that they meet quality and safety standards and work to correct any problems that they find. Aerospace engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in the field, and depending on their position, may need to meet specific security clearance standards, such as U.S. citizenship.
Health and Safety Engineers
Health and safety engineers may be asked to consult and help make movie sets safer, especially those that involve more dangerous special effects, such as explosions, fires or heavy machinery. The film industry may consult fire prevention and protection engineers to check prop buildings and structures on set for fire hazards, as well as suggest ways to keep fires in check and ensure that the crew complies with safety standards. Movies may also employ systems safety engineers to find and evaluate different risks associated with various systems that may be part of a movie, such as the environmental safety of blowing something up for a special effect. Health and safety engineers need practical experience and at least a bachelor's degree in a field of engineering or environmental health and safety.