Like many Recording Arts students, all Fernando Delgado wanted to do once he graduated was work in the music industry. After finishing Full Sail in 1997, he did just that, interning at small studios in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. But shortly after, another opportunity fell into his lap, and now – sixteen years later – Fernando is the owner of Stickman Sound, an audio company that provides location audio for live events, television shows, and commercials.
While working at Enterprise Live in Las Vegas, Full Sail’s Career Development department reached out to him and asked if he’d be interested in working for a freelance news company. He accepted and spent a year recording news stories in the field. “By the end of the year, the freelancers we were working with were telling me that I needed to go freelance,” Fernando says. “They were basically like, ‘You’re showing us how to use all of this equipment, and I’m making more money than you.’ So I quit, and then I just started getting phone calls.”
Those calls have landed him a dozen of television and commercial credits, including HBO Boxing, “Design Star,” and “The Ultimate Fighter,” the UFC’s reality competition show, which begins filming its next season in October.
As the sound supervisor on “The Ultimate Fighter,” Fernando is responsible for designing the sound system his team will use to record audio, interfacing with the video and post-production departments, hiring all of the audio crew (about 12 people for “The Ultimate Fighter” but the number varies depending on the size of the shoot), building all of the sound systems, and putting everything into action. While “The Ultimate Fighter” season doesn’t start shooting for two more months, Fernando is already coordinating scheduling with his crew and thinking about the audio gear they’ll need.
“Just in our gym location [where "The Ultimate Fighter" shoots in Las Vegas] there’s probably 70-something channels of audio that we’re running,” says Fernando. “Everybody has a microphone, then there are seven microphones on top of and underneath the Octagon for fight effects, two microphones on each camera, and an additional 30 mics throughout the entire venue, mostly for surveillance for the producers so they can hear people if they take their microphones off.”
With location audio, Fernando is on set every day of filming, and his team’s main job is to capture all of the sound during live filming. Post-production is then handled by another team. Their biggest challenge: the environment around them.
“There’s nothing like shooting an interview that’s going to be the most critical audio for a show in hotel room that’s in a flight path,” says Fernando. “You just have to record it the best you can, place your microphone in the spot that works best for that environment, then communicate with your post-production department so they know ahead of time they’re getting stuff that isn’t ideal.”
It’s a lot different from sitting in a studio or on tour with a band, which Fernando always thought he’d end up doing.
“I learned after I graduated that it wasn’t just music that I loved, it was audio – microphones and mixers and any of the gear that we throw in between recorders,” Fernando says. “You don’t realize that there are so many things in the world to record and there’s a market out there for that. I’m really grateful for the career I’ve had so far.”