Sound editor Carli Barber of LCO takes Hollywood!

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by Sandra Hale Schulman
Hollywood, California (NFIC) 4-07

Photo: Carli Barber with her co-winner and owner of MCDI Productions, Michael Dittrick. Photo by Peter Zakhary

"If I do my job right, you’re not supposed to notice it,” Carli Barber says with a laugh when asked what it is she actually does for movies and top rated TV shows. “I never even knew my job existed, but I knew from the time I was little that I would be in music somehow.” At age 31, she has hit the big time in her field.
In February at a star-studded ballroom ceremony – Clint Eastwood presented awards – Carli picked up a Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors Association for Best Sound Editing in Music for Television – Long Form for: High School Musical (2006). She shared the award with her boss Michael Dittrick (music editor).

She was also nominated for Best Sound Editing in Music for Television – Long Form for: The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006) (TV).

So to recap on her first ever nominations – two in the same category – she won against herself for one of them!

So what exactly does a Sound Editor do?

“I take all the music, dialogue, background noise and any other sounds that go into a film and mix it all together so it sounds real and clear. I don’t actually write any music or record it, but I’m the one it all passes to for the final product. I love the amazing musicians I get to work with, people like Stewart Copeland (The Police), and Wendy and Lisa (former Prince musicians). Plus the movies themselves are fun to watch being made.”

Carli is of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, she started taking piano lessons at a young age then moved to Tempe, AZ, for school to learn studio skills. She then headed to L.A. and landed an entry job. She also landed a boyfriend who is a musician; they have a studio in their house and have been making records and demos for bands.

Carli worked her way up in a few years, joining the union and landing a job with MCDI Productions in Burbank a few years ago. She uses Pro Tools on a Mac computer for her work.

“Our weeks are really busy and crazy, especially if it’s a series for TV like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. We’ll be working on one and planning the next one at the same time. Lots of hours in the studio, and sometimes at the last minute we can’t use a certain piece of music so we have to scramble and get it all re-edited. There is a lot of legal work and clearances that go on. The TV movies have really taken off, particularly the Disney films.”

The Disney film she won for is advertised as: This School Rocks Like No Other!

Two teens who are worlds apart meet at a karaoke contest and discover their mutual love for music. Gabriella Montez is a shy, studious new student at East High School; but that all changes when she is forced to sing at a karaoke contest with Troy Bolton, the captain of the school’s basketball team. After spending time with each other, both realize they share a passionate love for music and singing. But will they retain this love when their school is telling them they cannot be together?

The MPSE is a group filled with her peers, the Oscars have a similar award for sound editing but not a separate one for music. According to the website: The prime objective of the MPSE is to achieve by organization and mutual endeavor:

1. The improvement of prestige and recognition of its members through the education of both the entertainment community and general audience to the importance and artistic merit of the sound track.

2. The continuing recognition and dissemination of information regarding technical advances in film sound and sound editing.

3. The improvement of social relations and the economic and professional status of its members.

The awards nominations were announced in January, the ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Ballroom with a fancy dinner before the announcements.

Carli arrive fashionably late – “we missed dinner” she laughs, then when her name was announced she was so nervous she dropped her thank you list on her way to the podium.

“I did more work on the Cheetah Girls film than the one that I won for,” she says. “But I shared the win with my boss, so that was really great for us! After the nervousness subsided, we drank champagne all night!”

Next up is a sequel for one of the Disney films she worked on.

‘I’m really happy and fortunate to do what I do,” she says. “I want to get a few more years of this work under my belt then perhaps work on some documentaries, go back to my rez and do films about the kids and stories happening there. Use what I learn here and take it to another level, that will be my future goal.”


Carli Barber Filmography

1. Vanished (music editor)

(13 episodes, 2006) – Warm Springs

(2006) TV Episode (music editor)

– The Velocity of Sara (2006) TV

Episode (music editor)

– The Proffer (2006) TV Episode

(music editor)

– The Cell (2006) TV Episode

(music editor)

– The New World (2006) TV Episode

(music editor)

(8 more)

2. The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006) (TV)

(music editor)

3. For One Night (2006) (TV)

(music editor)

4. Commander in Chief (2005) TV

Series (music editor)

5. Ambulance Girl (2005) (TV)

(music editor)

6. Campus Confidential (2005) (TV)

(music editor)

7. Snow (2004) (TV) (music editor)

8. Pop Rocks (2004) (TV)

(music editor)


Miscellaneous Crew:

1. From Justin to Kelly (2003)

(music assistant)

... aka From Justin to Kelly:

With Love (USA)