Asbjoern Andersen


‘Deadliest Catch’ is one of the biggest reality shows on television today, watched by millions of viewers in 150 countries around the world. And today, season 10 premieres on the Discovery Channel.

But just how is the sound done on a show set in the middle of the freezing Bering Sea, with vessels, equipment and crew being battered by brutal winds, ice and 40-foot waves – and where the danger is very real and ever-present?

To find out, I had a talk with Bob Bronow, award-winning sound designer & re-recording mixer on the show since the very first season.
In this exclusive A Sound Effect interview, he shares his favorite sound moments, how he strikes a balance between realism and drama – and, ultimately, how he and the team tell stories with sound.

UPDATE: Bob has been nominated for a 2014 Emmy award for Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming, for his work on Deadliest Catch

How did you get started doing sound for television – and how did you land the job doing sound on ‘Deadliest Catch’?

Like a lot of folks who work in sound, I started as a musician. My first recording session was at age sixteen. I began mixing live shows when I was 20. After college I produced radio commercials and later went into sound for picture.

I came onboard at Original Productions just after Discovery picked up their show, ‘Monster Garage’ and they needed a mixer. I had worked with the show runner in the past so he gave me a call. Landing ‘Deadliest Catch’ was wonderfully understated. I was walking down the narrow hallway at our little post building in Glendale when the show’s creator, Thom Beers, passed by and asked, “You mixing that crab show?” Knowing that more work is always better than less work I replied, “Sure”.

What’s your role on the sound team, and what’s the workflow typically like on an episode?

After an episode is locked and prepped by the video assist an AAF is made and put on our internal audio server. An audio assist will start going through the elements. As there are no sound mixers on the boats all of the sound is captured via camera mic and lavalier microphones. The first pass is to select the the most usable audio and bleep the considerable amount of profanity. Then, they move on to cutting backgrounds. While that is being done, I go through the show and work on all of the areas that require special sound design.

Unfortunately dialog recorded on a crab boat is usually filled with wind, waves, engine hum, clipping, noise, hydraulics… you get the idea! So I do everything I can to make sure that all of it is as intelligible as I can make it. To this end I always start the mix with a noise-reduction pass. Dialog is the show’s anchor and all of the other elements wrap around that.

My first mix step is a dialog pre-dub. This gives me a second chance to evaluate the dialog and make sure that it meets Discovery’s loudness requirements. Then the music and effects are mixed in to support the elements of the story. The process usually takes three to four days.

How do you source sounds for the show?

On a show like ‘Deadliest Catch’ (where there are no sound mixers) everything is recorded on camera mics and lavaliers whose primary job is to record dialog. There are also a number of deck cameras which don’t record audio at all. When a rogue wave sideswipes a boat or an 800 lb. crab pot crashes to the deck we may or may not have captured the corresponding audio.

I make every attempt to use actual sounds that were recorded on the boats

To convey the enormity of these experiences, it’s important that the audio be built to those images. I make every attempt to use actual sounds that were recorded on the boats.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have cameramen catch many of these big events. Those recordings are the basis for what I build. I want to use audio to portray the tension and danger of the scene and I want it to be authentic.

I’ve yet to find a library with the sound of an 800lb crab pot launched into an ice-covered Bering Sea.

How much creative freedom do you get in shaping the sound of the show?

This is one of the best parts of my job. I was hired to create the sonic signature of the show and Original Productions lets me do just that.

If there are particular things in an episode that need special attention, a story producer or editor will come to me and we’ll have a discussion about their needs. I’ll then create what they’re looking for to use in their edit.

By the time I’m mixing an episode the producers and editors of that episode are already working on another so they pretty much leave the soundtrack decisions to me. The layback is where they get their first good listen. After the layback we go through notes, I make the fixes and the show is sent out for QC.

How do you strike a balance between realism and drama in the soundscape? Are there any restrictions in how much you can beef up sounds to dramatize things?

I try to keep the soundtrack as authentic as possible. Luckily forty foot waves, hulls crashing through ice and large machinery failures sound huge!

My approach to mixing ‘Deadliest Catch’ has always been to convey the emotion and magnitude of what these people are doing. For me, sound has always been a very emotional thing and I enjoy using it to tell these stories. So I judge the soundtrack by how it makes me feel.

This show has always made me feel a little nervous because the danger is real and it’s always present.

If I’m taken out of the story because an effect is too big, I’ve gone too far. This show has always made me feel a little nervous because the danger is real and it’s always present. My goal is that the viewers feel they’ve experienced what it’s like to be on a crab boat in the middle of the Bering Sea.

The soundtrack shouldn’t draw attention to itself. If I do my job well, the viewer should never know I was there.

Do you have a favorite episode or snippet where you felt the sound worked particularly well?

One of my favorite sound scenes is from the first episode of season 9 (‘Mutiny on the Bering Sea’); Andy Hillstrand (F/V Time Bandit) had gotten his finger crushed while working in the engine room. Blood was building behind his fingernail and the pressure had to be released. With no doctors on board and in the middle of the Bering Sea, deckhand Mike Fourtner volunteered to perform the procedure. Take a sewing needle, heat it with a portable torch until it was red hot and stick it through Andy’s nail. Multiple times.

That would be bad enough in a doctor’s office. But the Time Bandit happened to be in the middle of huge seas so the boat was rolling heavily. That, and the fact that this was all taking place in one of the noisiest parts of the ship (the galley) added to the challenge.

I focused on the sound that the needle would make as it pierced the nail and the sound of the blood being released from behind the nail

The environment outside was creating a difficult environment inside as Mike was attempting to lance Andy’s nail with the needle. I focused on the sound of the waves hitting the Time Bandit’s hull in the boat-to-boat shots. That conveyed the magnitude of the weather on the outside. On the inside, things were creaking and rattling as the boat was tossed around. All the while, Mike is trying to position the needle over Andy’s fingernail. The intensity and pain that Andy was feeling was juxtaposed with the rest of the crew’s laughing at his discomfort. To highlight that, I focused on the sound that the needle would make as it pierced the nail and the sound of the blood being released from behind the nail.

It was a difficult sound to listen to followed by laughing and cheers. Anxiety, pain, release, repeat.
The tension of the scene was finally resolved when Andy says,” He had to hurt me to help me” and Mike mouths to the camera, “Love it!”
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Foley Angry Door 192 Play Track 1400+ sounds included, 103 mins total $50.40 $45.36 incl. vat

    The doors are very kind, but don't make them angry. They could lose their temper resulting in a very noisy bang.

    This library enriches the sfx world with new door and gate objects, both source and designed, with variety of expressive actions and perspectives. The everyday usual noises along with fantasy stimulating sounds – e.g. deep “dungeon” metal door, high pitch squeaking wire-netting gate, heavy church gate and so on. To make the slams and smashes even more hard, heavy and dirty, wildly designed “Angry” versions have been added.

    Library highlight:

    18 door and gate objects, recorded in old, gloomy houses and a church
    • 6.29 GB, 645 files, several takes for each action
    • “Close-Up”, “Near”, “Middle” and “Behind” perspectives in selected cases, plus mix of them
    192khz/24 bit including ultrasonic information- the greatest resolution for next design processes
    Sound Devices MixPre6, Sanken CO100K, Sennheiser MKH30, DPA 4007, DPA 4060, Schertler Dyn Uni P48
    Photo reference for each object
    10 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553814000
    Add to cart
  • Industrial Motor Fan Play Track 76+ sounds included $69.60 $48.72 incl. vat

    MOTOR FAN household edition features both Internal & External mechanical sound from household items.
    Motors and compressors found in the kitchen, ACs & outdoor units + heaters and compressors and more.

    Features motor, fan & compressor sounds from sources like:

    Refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, juicers, fans, AC / hvac, washing machines, boilers, compressors, vents, heaters, chain saws & more
    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553986800
    Add to cart
  • Igniter is the new industry standard for creating any real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects with ease and at unbeatable value. Whether you work in audio post or game audio, Igniter enables you to design, perform and automate any complex vehicle behaviour directly in your DAW – from sports cars, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, spacecraft and other engine sounds to moving ambiences, textures, Foley or whatever sparks your imagination.

    Video Thumbnail

    Igniter is the only solution of its kind to come jam-packed with over 20 performable vehicles and 1,943 audio assets from vehicles including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Tesla, Harley Davidson, Huey UH-1H, Agusta Westland 119x, CH-47D Chinook, Bombardier Challenger, Cessna 560XL, skids, sweeteners and much more. Recordings come from Watson Wu, The Recordist, Sounding Sweet, George Vlad, Echo Peak and Flysound.

    For vehicle fanatics, Igniter Full Tank comes with 75GB of additional library content including onboard recordings, ramps & static rev bands, Foley sounds, skids, slides and much more!

    Add to cart
  • Igniter is the new industry standard for creating any real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects with ease. Whether you work in audio post or game audio, Igniter enables you to design, perform and automate any complex vehicle behaviour directly in your DAW – from sports cars, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, spacecraft and other engine sounds to moving ambiences, textures, Foley or whatever sparks your imagination.

    Video Thumbnail

    Igniter is the only solution of its kind to come jam-packed with over 20 performable vehicles and 614 audio assets from vehicles including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Tesla, Harley Davidson, Huey UH-1H, Agusta Westland 119x, CH-47D Chinook, Bombardier Challenger, Cessna 560XL, skids, sweeteners and much more. Recordings come from Watson Wu, The Recordist, Sounding Sweet, George Vlad, Echo Peak and Flysound.

    Add to cart
  • Aircraft - Jet/Propeller Planes F16 Maneuvers Play Track 70 sounds included, 45 mins total $46.80 $32.40 incl. vat

    The F16 Maneuvers library features 36 recordings of F16 Fighter jets, captured at three different locations from the ground perspective. In addition to those, we included :

    – 22 flight formation sounds (up to six aircrafts), designed using Sound Particles 3D software.

    – 8 recordings captured using contact microphones, attached in a nearby parked vehicle, leading up to some low tones and rumbles, that could be useful as sweeteners in aircraft or other complex sounds.

    – 4 mixing sessions, combining ambient and contact mic recordings.

    The product includes a total of 45 minutes of HQ material (24bit/96kHZ) and a total of 70 sounds, including 17 Soundminer metadata fields, such as description, keywords, category/sub-category, microphones and more.

    31 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553814000
    Add to cart

Win sound effects:
Here are 6 (!) chances to win incredible SFX libraries from Mindful Audio:
Get 6 chances to win here
Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Danger lurks on land too, as seen in this close encounter between Bob and Captain Keith from the show

Danger lurks on land too, as seen in this close encounter between Bob and Captain Keith from the show

Are there any fun moments that stand out doing the sound on ‘Deadliest Catch?’

Fun moments? Pretty much any time you get the captains together there are fun moments. Unfortunately, I can’t repeat any of them! Season 9 was the first season that we had cameramen shooting the boats from the bottom of Dutch Harbor. Given that there was no usable production sound, I had the opportunity to design those sounds.

You’ve worked as a sound designer for 20 years. What trends are you noticing in television sound?

I think that many television soundtracks are moving closer to the depth of theatrical soundtracks. It’s not uncommon for a large action show to have hundreds of tracks of effects delivered to the stage.

An episode of Deadliest Catch will have anywhere from 60 to 80 tracks.

There have been amazing advances in recording and processing software.
Mixers today have access to noise reduction technology that fifteen years ago would have been indistinguishable from magic. I can only imagine the things we’ll be able to do in five years!

Can you share anything about projects you’re currently working on?

I mixed a film in 2008 called The Wrecking Crew. It tells the story of an elite group of studio session musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960’s who played on hits for the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mamas and Papas, 5th Dimension, Tijuana Brass, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Johnny Rivers and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound just to name a few! (that description came from the Wrecking Crew website)

While the film was very successful on the festival circuit it was never released due to the amount of money needed to pay the musicians and writers for the use of their music. The money was recently raised and I was able to do a full theatrical mix on this incredible story.

 

Please share this:


 

A huge thanks to Bob Bronow for doing this interview!
About Bob Bronow
Bob has been working as a re-recording mixer and sound designer for 20 years, doing sound on shows like Deadliest Catch, Ax Men, Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice, The Colony, 1000 Ways to Die, American Masters: Carol Burnette & Bob Newhart and the feature documentary The Wrecking Crew. He’s also been nominated for 8 Primetime Emmy’s – with two wins – in addition to 4 CAS award wins for his work on Deadliest Catch. Find out more about Bob and his work here.
 
 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Trains Steam Trains Play Track 175 sounds included $48 $28.80 incl. vat

    The Steam Trains library delivers 175 sound effects of three different types of steam train engines, and the clatter, rattle, and grinding of wagons.

    The collection includes riding, idling, pass-bys, departing and arriving trains, bells, whistles, steam blasts, platform atmospheres, and doors and windows.

    Engines are the heavy Santa Fe 2-10-2, the Bavarian BB 0-4-4-0 Heavy Mallet, and a 4 Wheel Switcher 0-4-0 light railway. Also included are door and window handling effects of passenger cars

    Each engine is well documented and listed in full Soundminer metadata.

    The Steam trains library also includes a “Specification Sheet” with detailed information about the trains and environments.

    Recorded with a Schoeps MK4/MK8 MS, paired with a Sound Devices 702 recorder. Some takes provide an alternative mix with recordings from an additional Sony PCM-D recorder.

    40 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Animal Hyperrealism Vol I Play Track Over 1300 sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $204 incl. vat

    Animal Hyperrealism Vol I is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 1300 individual sounds in 290 files.

    The sounds were partly recorded with animals trained for media production, partly recorded in zoos and wildlife centers. The asset list includes but is not limited to: african lions, bengal tigers, horses, donkeys, cows, exotic birds, owls, bobcats, pumas, dromedaries, wolves, dogs, geese, lemurs, gibbons and many more.

    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K plus a Sennheiser 8050 for center image and a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 for stereo image. All files are delivered as stereo bounce of these for mics, though in some instances an additional couple of CO100K was added to the sides.

    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Steam Engines Real & Foley Play Track 1000+ sounds included $108 incl. vat

    This sound collection covers a wide range of sounds produced by many different steam engines. In addition to the real engines there’s also a wide variety of Foley sounds which can be layered to make funny (steam) engines for cartoons for example. All sounds recorded with high end equipment – 24 bit and 96KHz (some in 48KHz)
    The ‘MAIN’ demo gives a good taste of what’s inside. The ‘POTENTIAL KONTAKT demo gives a glimpse of what you can do with the FREE BONUS Kontakt Instruments. So the latter is just a demonstration, these sounds are not included as such!

    Equipment:
    Recorder / Interface

    • Sound Devices Mixpre 6
    • RME OCTAMIC XTC

    Studio Mics

    • Mojave MA 301 FET
    • Sennheiser MKH8040 (top, bottom)
    • Audix i5 (dynamic)

    Field Recording Mics

    • Sennheiser MKH8040smk
    • Sennheiser MKH8070
    • DPA Core 4060smk
    • Aquarian H2a with contact adapter

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Foley Angry Door 192 Play Track 1400+ sounds included, 103 mins total $50.40 $45.36 incl. vat

    The doors are very kind, but don't make them angry. They could lose their temper resulting in a very noisy bang.

    This library enriches the sfx world with new door and gate objects, both source and designed, with variety of expressive actions and perspectives. The everyday usual noises along with fantasy stimulating sounds – e.g. deep “dungeon” metal door, high pitch squeaking wire-netting gate, heavy church gate and so on. To make the slams and smashes even more hard, heavy and dirty, wildly designed “Angry” versions have been added.

    Library highlight:

    18 door and gate objects, recorded in old, gloomy houses and a church
    • 6.29 GB, 645 files, several takes for each action
    • “Close-Up”, “Near”, “Middle” and “Behind” perspectives in selected cases, plus mix of them
    192khz/24 bit including ultrasonic information- the greatest resolution for next design processes
    Sound Devices MixPre6, Sanken CO100K, Sennheiser MKH30, DPA 4007, DPA 4060, Schertler Dyn Uni P48
    Photo reference for each object
    10 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553814000
  • Industrial Motor Fan Play Track 76+ sounds included $69.60 $48.72 incl. vat

    MOTOR FAN household edition features both Internal & External mechanical sound from household items.
    Motors and compressors found in the kitchen, ACs & outdoor units + heaters and compressors and more.

    Features motor, fan & compressor sounds from sources like:

    Refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, juicers, fans, AC / hvac, washing machines, boilers, compressors, vents, heaters, chain saws & more
    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553986800
  • Igniter is the new industry standard for creating any real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects with ease and at unbeatable value. Whether you work in audio post or game audio, Igniter enables you to design, perform and automate any complex vehicle behaviour directly in your DAW – from sports cars, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, spacecraft and other engine sounds to moving ambiences, textures, Foley or whatever sparks your imagination.

    Video Thumbnail

    Igniter is the only solution of its kind to come jam-packed with over 20 performable vehicles and 1,943 audio assets from vehicles including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Tesla, Harley Davidson, Huey UH-1H, Agusta Westland 119x, CH-47D Chinook, Bombardier Challenger, Cessna 560XL, skids, sweeteners and much more. Recordings come from Watson Wu, The Recordist, Sounding Sweet, George Vlad, Echo Peak and Flysound.

    For vehicle fanatics, Igniter Full Tank comes with 75GB of additional library content including onboard recordings, ramps & static rev bands, Foley sounds, skids, slides and much more!

  • Igniter is the new industry standard for creating any real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects with ease. Whether you work in audio post or game audio, Igniter enables you to design, perform and automate any complex vehicle behaviour directly in your DAW – from sports cars, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, spacecraft and other engine sounds to moving ambiences, textures, Foley or whatever sparks your imagination.

    Video Thumbnail

    Igniter is the only solution of its kind to come jam-packed with over 20 performable vehicles and 614 audio assets from vehicles including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Tesla, Harley Davidson, Huey UH-1H, Agusta Westland 119x, CH-47D Chinook, Bombardier Challenger, Cessna 560XL, skids, sweeteners and much more. Recordings come from Watson Wu, The Recordist, Sounding Sweet, George Vlad, Echo Peak and Flysound.

  • Aircraft - Jet/Propeller Planes F16 Maneuvers Play Track 70 sounds included, 45 mins total $46.80 $32.40 incl. vat

    The F16 Maneuvers library features 36 recordings of F16 Fighter jets, captured at three different locations from the ground perspective. In addition to those, we included :

    – 22 flight formation sounds (up to six aircrafts), designed using Sound Particles 3D software.

    – 8 recordings captured using contact microphones, attached in a nearby parked vehicle, leading up to some low tones and rumbles, that could be useful as sweeteners in aircraft or other complex sounds.

    – 4 mixing sessions, combining ambient and contact mic recordings.

    The product includes a total of 45 minutes of HQ material (24bit/96kHZ) and a total of 70 sounds, including 17 Soundminer metadata fields, such as description, keywords, category/sub-category, microphones and more.

    31 %
    OFF
    Ends 1553814000
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *