POP Sound Handled the Audio on Jiro Dreams

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Mon, 05/30/2011 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

POP Sound provided sound editorial and mixing services for Jiro Dreams of Sushi director David Gelb’s new documentary. Re-recording mixer Tim Hoogenakker led the sound team for the film which tells the story of an 85-year-old master sushi chef from Japan and his quest to create the perfect piece of sushi. Magnolia Pictures recently acquired North American rights to the film just ahead of its screening at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. For a documentary the film includes an unusually large number of sound design elements as Hoogenakker and his crew who also included supervising sound editor Darren Sunny Warkentin Foley editor Anthony Vanchure and sound editor Chris Johnston sought to recreate the signature sounds of a Japanese kitchen. Toward that end the Foley stage at POP Sound was set up like a sushi kitchen with a large countertop an assortment of knives and a collection of raw fish bought at a local market. “We wanted to record our guys slicing tuna and scraping knives across bones to recreate a sense of how these chefs do their craft with such fine precision ” Hoogenakker says. Many of the scenes showing sushi preparation appear in slow motion and required special sound treatment. “One of the things that Jiro talks about is having grand dreams of sushi and that became our theme ” explains Warkentin. “Especially in the slow motion scenes we kept things surreal and dreamy.” “We also wanted to keep everything appetizing ” Warkentin adds. “We were very conscious of that when we did the Foley. When they were using knives to cut the fish for example we wanted it to sound real but not in a way that might make the audience squeamish.” One of the most challenging scenes involved a busy Japanese fish market. The finished sound is primarily made up from production elements with a few Foley and sound effects elements blended in to give audiences the sense that they are in the middle of the action. “They take the auctioning of fish very seriously ” Hoogenakker says. “It sounds almost like they are chanting.” Gelb praised the work of the POP Sound team stating that their creativity and technical skills “added a whole new layer of life to the film. Moments that were in slow motion and silent in our rough cut are elevated and lush with surreal and dream-like effects that are subtle yet powerful ” Gelb says. “Dialogue that was totally inaudible before is now crystal clear. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an absolute pleasure to listen to.”