The skies were clear and the air warm at Pearl Harbor on December 5, 1991. The legendary joint base was prepared and anticipating the arrival of the USS Missouri (BB-63) then nearly 47 years old. It was this day that “Mighty Mo” would make it’s final maneuvers to rest and soon become a bastion of U.S. naval history for tens of thousands of visitors.
74 years since it’s commission- Sight and Sound Studios collaborated with the historians, archivists, and caretakers of the Missouri to craft an audio experience for it’s visitors.
Our team directed, produced, recorded, edited, and implemented everything necessary for the audio installation on the newly restored 04 Level bridge of the battleship.
Producer, Franz Schmutzer, helped develop and breakdown a script written by USS Missouri Memorial Association Archival Assistant, Megan Plaumann, and performed by active service members of the USS John Paul Jones to re-enact the bridge procedures that occured on the day Mighty Mo returned home.
The Missouri’s preservation team searched the island for support on this unique project and had difficulty finding anyone up to the task. It required a multimedia approach and an understanding in a diversity of disciplines. From the first phone call, we were intrigued and excited to implement our team’s technical skills and artistic sensibilities for what was essentially a museum installation.
Authenticity was the primary goal of the endeavor. Bill Maheras, the owner of Sight and Sound, has spent decades working on battleships and with military personnel and assumed the role of director to guide the servicemen through the recording. We brought professional audio engineers and long-time collaborators Steve DeFeo and Robert Dickerson in to manage the field mix and recording, which was done within the actual space of the bridge, adding to the atmosphere and style of the piece. Kevin Sawicki lent his technical skills to plan and implement a surround sound system that could be integrated into the bridge and playback the voices of each sailor from their actual stations within the physical space.
Battleship Missouri Memorial Curator, Mike Weidenbach:
Working with your team, from the moment [we] walked into your studio, it has all been very positive. We knew from the beginning that we’d found a professional team that understood what we were attempting to create, and were eager and able to work with us to make it happen…and you have.
I hope that by saying “you have” it doesn’t sound like I’m saying simply “good enough”. What I mean is that the result is exactly consistent with the authentic sound I’d hoped we’d achieve, purposefully nothing more or less than authentic.
I’m confident that our 1500-2000 visitors a day will feel themselves there, hearing what they would have heard aboard this battleship as she arrived in Pearl Harbor for the 50th anniversary of the December 7th attack.
We are proud to have been a part of this historical project.
Visit https://www.ussmissouri.org/ for information about visiting the memorial and experiencing it yourself.