Award-winning sound editor educates & inspires the next gen.
Danielle Wiessner is a sound, music and editorial leader in the film, television, music, arts and digital interactive industries. Some of her television and film credits includes Home and Away, Underbelly, Interceptor, Crocodile Dundee II, Happy Feet Two, and Moulin Rouge; for which she won a Golden Reel award.
The SAE Creative Media Institute audio lecturer, shares her insights working within the industry, the impact technological advances like immersive sound have had, and the key skills she teaches her students. “I’m really grateful that I’ve had the chance to cross different formats, and develop my skills in the industry, which I’ve been able to then impart onto my students at SAE.”
For almost seven years, Danielle has been educating the next generation of audio engineers at SAE Sydney. “I love my SAE family. I teach predominantly post production sound, and it’s such a creative place to be a part of,” Danielle enthused. “As much as I hope students find my anecdotes from the industry valuable, I find myself being equally inspired by their ideas and the journeys they’ve been on.” Danielle adds that the key soft skills industry look for from graduates can make a difference in who ultimately has a successful career. “I inform students about being accountable, trying to help them step up so that they can move into the industry, once they graduate. Be responsible, be excellent collaborators, communicators, be punctual, and be open to lifelong learning. Those elements are what students need to be successful, and will help them stand out.”
Danielle began her career in 1981 working in film and television as an assistant picture editor where she learned foundational screen, editing and storytelling skills from experts in the field. “I was quite fortunate because my mother was a production manager and line producer in advertising, so she had a lot of connections. We heard about a role going on a television series. I applied for the position, interviewed and got the job. Having contacts in the industry helped me get my foot in the door of the film industry,” Dani shared.
Having spent some time sharpening her skills with some of Australia’s top picture editors, Dani got the opportunity to work with primo sound editor, Greg Bell, who was famous for his work on Heavenly Creatures and Gallipoli. “I worked with Greg as his sound assistant for many years, during which time he gave me the opportunity to learn in the editor’s chair. My first dialogue editing job was in 1987 on Shadows of the Peacock,” she said.
The evolution of audio technology in the twenty-first century has provided new frontiers in the creative industries. Immersive sound is one area which Danielle is particularly excited about. “When I first started in the industry, it was mono. Now working with Dolby Atmos, immersive sound is where it’s at because you get true audience engagement. This isn’t just at the cinema, the advancements for small screen have equally been phenomenal,” Danielle said. “The software development industry has enabled us to do a lot of work in the immersive audio arena and AI space, so that emerging technology is in the long term going to support a superior experience for audiences.”
By the time Danielle got her chance as a music continuity and vocal editor on Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge for which she’d win a Golden Reel award, she’d already gathered an array of credits to her name on feature films and television shows including The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Dingo, and Emerald City. “It was fascinating to work with such a fantastic crew on Moulin Rouge. Music continuity was a new role created exclusively and uniquely for the production,” Danielle explained. “I’d be on set and have playback in one ear, and production sound in the other ear, monitors in front of me with the song sheets, and a walkie talkie for communication with the musical director, playback editor, sound recordist and vocal coach — it was quite a set up. “The process involved marking up what parts of the song the crew had shot on each angle, making sure we had coverage of the whole songs. Together with the musical director and vocal coach we made certain the actors vocalised tier performances perfectly.” In post production, Danielle worked to fine tune the vocals and synchronise it with the recorded film. “The final editing process was a massive project. The fact I’d done this before, on Dingo, certainly helped.”
One of the most challenging roles in her career, Danielle shares, was as a dialogue editor and foley recordist on over 1,000 episodes for Home and Away. “Working on a huge production machine like Home and Away in many ways will be one of the hardest, and fastest projects you can do in your career. It takes a great deal of skill to work at such a pace,” she said.
SAE General Manager, Dr Luke McMillan praised Danielle on her contributions to education and the film and television industries. “Danielle has had a glittering career in television and film, as one of the industry’s true leaders of sound editing. Her experience and presence in the industry is invaluable as it provides real tangible examples for our students to learn from and grow as creative practitioners.”