For 12 seasons, “The Deadliest Catch” has given audiences a first-hand look at the perilous world of Alaskan crab fishing, where men and women are constantly braving the elements to earn their living. Part of the Discovery show’s power comes from its intricate soundtrack, and for his efforts, re-recording sound mixer Bob Bronow has already won two Emmys and four Cinema Audio Society awards. During our recent video interview (watch above), Bronow explained that his first and primary role on the show is, “cleaning up the dialogue so you can actually hear it,” a task that seems easier said than done.
Because of the dangerous nature of the show and lack of space on-board, there are no sound mixers on the boats. Instead, there are two cameramen/producers who use camera mics and body mics to capture each bit of dialogue, which is often obscured by every conceivable noise known to man. But no challenge is too great for Bronow, who spends countless hours shifting through the various recordings to piece together an audible track, because, he explains, “That really is the story.”
The next step, Bronow continues, “is to make sure I’m representing the actual environment realistically.” That often means emphasizing or recreating every wind, wave, and crash that may be visible to audiences, but won’t have its full impact until Bronow has put his personal imprint on it. He admits that since the very first season, “watching it has always made me nervous. So I figure if I’m working on the sound and it starts to make me feel a little uncomfortable, then I know I’m in the ballpark.”
Although his work isn’t limited to unscripted reality (he’s also currently working on ABC’s drama “The Family”), Bronow’s credits read like a who’s-who of documentary programming, with work on such shows as “1,000 Ways to Die,” “American Masters,” and “Monster Garage.” “The challenge, and to me, the fun of unscripted, is you get what you get,” Bronow says. “As much fun as it is to turn around to a sound editor and say, ‘do we have an alt on that?,’ you’ve got what you got, and you have to make it work. So I really enjoy the challenge.”