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Tonics Jun Mizumachi Makes HistorySound designer asked to contribute to Singapore museum exhibit (September 14, 2004)
Tonic sound designer Jun Mizumachi?known for his highly creativity sound design with 30-second television and radio advertising?recently lent his expertise to an entirely different short-format project. For the Singapore History Museums newly commissioned exhibit, Mizumachi deftly establishes tone, mood and place for the aptly titled section ?Dark Room.
The Singapore History Museums upcoming retrospective is designed to enlighten visitors about the citys cultural diversity. Having been a bustling trading post for centuries and, at various times, under the sovereignty of just about every superpower in history, Singapore has seen influences from almost every continent on earth. The ?Dark Room section specifically sets out to give museum visitors a sense of one of the countrys most pivotal moments in history: the 1941 Japanese invasion and takeover of Singapore from British government. Although losing World War II led to the return of Singapore to the English, the dynamic between Britain and Singapore would never be the same. Eventually in 1965, Singapore would gain its own independence.
Mizumachi was tasked with setting the tone for ?Dark Room. The otherwise unlit exhibit features eight stations projecting single slides from this historical battle on the wall. These stations are accented with recorded dialogue written as if spoken by the people in the images. For Mizumachi, the job had its creative challenges; the most significant being sound designing without having seen the images. ?I had to imagine the landscape, explained Mizumachi. ?I had a great deal of freedom because it was my choice to establish the environment they were in. Everything that could happen out of the frame?machine guns, overhead airplanes, tanks rolling by?was all part of establishing the scene and trying to give the museum attendee a sense of place.
While musical soundtracks are often used to establish drama, The History of Singapore Museum requested Mizumachi not include music for this historical exhibit. ?Music can make the experience more cinematic but the goal here was to make it feel real, Mizumachi added. ?I did research into Singapore to understand the sorts of sounds commonly heard there. The fact that it is surrounded by water meant types of themes play into the sound design.
This however did not stop Mizumachi from using musical instruments entirely. ?I added some cellos and bass to the airplanes overhead to fill out the sound, explained Mizumachi. ?For ship horns, I would add real horns like tuba and sax to make it more colorful. They are all custom made sound effects where the musical instruments are designed to be imperceptible.
The Singapore History Museum used coned speakers to direct sound only at attendees standing at each station. Mizumachi said he enjoys this kind of work and hopes to further expand his repertoire into live spaces. ?I am really interested in experimenting with sounds in live environments because sound travels differently in every space, he explained.
Mizumachis inventive sound design can also be heard in recently completed spots for: GMC, HBO, Nike, Miller Light, Burger King and promos for The Food Network and Nickelodeon. For more information or a reel contact Tonic.
Tonic occupies a unique position in the industry as an elite digital mixing facility that also offers expert music scoring and sound design. Its stamp can be found on national advertising, television, feature films, network branding, and original music projects. The company is also at the forefront of 5.1 surround sound technology, which is poised to shape the future of both home theater and high-definition television.
In addition to the companys facilities on the east side of Manhattan, Tonic recently designed and constructed new audio post facilities at 450 West 33rd Street. The new studios grew out of Tonics long relationship with WNET. In all, this annex makes Tonic an impressive seven-room, full capacity, audio service.
For more information visit www.tonic.tv.
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