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  • Issayas Tesfamariam

A conversation with artist Mahlet Ogbe Habte

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Mahlet Ogebe Habte. I lived in Italy for five years, after I finished high school. Also I studied business in the United States for one year and returned to Addis Abeba where I grew up to join in a family business.

After the Ethiopia- Eritrea border dispute, destiny brought me to Norway. While at the refugee camp, painting became my light for the gloomy situation that I was in. I was then accepted into the Rogaland School of Art, where I received a basic education of art. After that, I studied at the

Bergen National Academy Dept. of Fine arts. In total, I studied for seven years and I achieved my Masters in Fine Art. Art helps me in my creativity and holds me in good stead, overcoming the sense of drift, displacement and exile.

My artistic career was very successful. I have participated in several important Art Biennales such as India First Biennale, Ghotenborg Biennale, China Triennale. I also participated in some important exhibitions in Tokyo, Italy, Germany, several in Norway, Kenya and other African countries. During those years mainly I was working with sound installation and site specific audience performance.

Finally I fulfilled my other dream this year. On June 21, 2017 I finished my second Master in Film Directing at Ealing Studio, Metfilm School in London.

Congratulations on your graduation. What is Sound Design?

Sound design is the process of specifying, acquiring, manipulating and/ or generating audio elements. It most commonly involves the manipulation of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue. In some instances it may also involve the composition or manipulation of audio to create a desired effect or mood.

Similar to video/film production, sound needs extensive preparation, and discussing about the mood, pattern, locations, and etc. As in video production there are three steps: pre–production, production and post-production.

Briefly, the main points:

Pre - production

Location recce (term borrowed from the military and used in filming: reconnaissance ) is the most important part of the pre-production for sound. Production:

During filming/production, recording audio, controlling sound as much as possible, maintaining a certain amount of equality between all the sound clips. Post - production:

During this stage, processing of the sound clips, adjustments/ arrangements, and creating a mood are added. What is the Role of a Sound Designer in a film? The sound designer perceives the director’s point of view about the film’s time period, space, surroundings, etc., and tries to replicate it through audio. This is done through repeated discussions with the director. Sound designer is the key person who takes care of what the film finally portrays through its audio. Even though the direction makes the final call, often the sound designer’s input enhances the film in terms of both audio and video.

Difference between a sound designer and a sound engineer? Mahlet: The short answer is that a sound engineering is more technical while sound design is more artistic.

Mahlet, thank you for your time. And again, congratulations!

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