Monday, October 2, 2017

'Sonic Sea,' a triple nominee, and its competitors

"There is one nominee for Outstanding Nature Documentary left, 'Sonic Sea.'  That one deserves a post of its own.  Stay tuned."  That was the program note I left near the end of Nature documentary nominees are well photographed at the 2017 News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  Here is that entry, in which I give "Sonic Sea" top billing so it doesn't mind sharing it with its fellow nominees in two categories.

Here is the trailer from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sonic Sea ( ) is a 60-minute documentary about the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life. It tells the story of a former U.S. Navy officer who solved a tragic mystery and changed forever the way we understand our impact on the ocean.

The film is narrated by Rachel McAdams and features Sting, in addition to the renowned ocean experts Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Paul Spong, Dr. Christopher Clark and Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Sonic Sea was produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Imaginary Forces in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Diamond Docs.
Unlike the other nominees for Outstanding Nature Documentary, in particular "Nature: Super Hummingbirds" and "David Attenborough's Light on Earth," the best parts of "Sonic Sea" are auditory, not visual.  It won Best Sound & Music Editing: Television; Documentary Short Form at the Golden Reel Awards.  World Animal News covered the event in Sonic Sea -Winner Of The Golden Reel Award For Best Sound.

I made a nuisance of myself in the comments.
Congratulations to Discovery Channel and to Trevor Gates, Ryan Briley, Ron Aston, and Christopher Bonis for their win in the category of BEST SOUND & MUSIC EDITING: TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY SHORT FORM.  You deserved it.

On the other hand, the host/interviewer, while well-meaning, deserved the chuckles from the sound editors when she said that the film deserved an Academy Award.  If she meant the Motion Picture Academy, that's not happening, as "Sonic Sea" is not a movie, so it wasn't nominated.  If she meant the Television Academy, which awards the Emmys, that ship sailed in September.  "Sonic Sea" was not nominated for Outstanding Music and Sound at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards for the 2015-2016 season, when it aired on Discovery.  That trophy went to "The Last Orangutan Eden."

Next time, do your research on the awards for which a show is eligible before reporting on it.
I then realized I could be wrong.
Actually, I take that back about the Emmy Awards.  While "Sonic Sea" missed the deadline for the prime time Emmys, which had a cut-off date of May 31st, it may still be eligible for the News & Documentary Emmys, which have an earlier deadline.  This year, it will be April 20th.  While the documentary was released as a film on January 15, 2016, its initial air date on Discovery was May 19th.  Assuming the same deadline last year as this year, it would then be eligible for consideration for this year's awards.  In that case, I apologize for being so snotty about the Emmy Awards.  My criticism about the interviewer imploring the Oscars to recognize a film that the Motion Picture Academy didn't nominate still stands.
When "Sonic Sea" actually was nominated, I acknowledged it.
The Television Academy did recognize "Sonic Sea."  It was nominated today for three News and Documentary Emmy Awards, Outstanding Nature Documentary, Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction, and Outstanding Music and Sound.  Congratulations and good luck.  The awards will be given on October 5th.
If the show wins any of the three awards, I'll go back and leave another comment.

Follow over the jump for the other nominees for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction and Outstanding Music and Sound.

Along with "Flying Monsters with David Attenborough," which I featured yesterday, the other nominees for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction are "Spillover--Zika, Ebola & Beyond," "Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places," and "Vox Pop."  Despite being a big fan of Vox, I'll pass, as it's culture, not science or nature.  Instead, I begin with SPILLOVER - ZIKA, EBOLA & BEYOND | Healthcare Workers | PBS.

Healthcare workers struggled to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
There are three programs about Ebola nominated this year.  I could have made an entire post about The Red Death!  Instead, I promise I'll get to all of them before the winners are announced.  If one of them is, it can join "Outbreak" from Frontline on PBS as an award-winning show about the epidemic.

The previous preview did not display the graphics that earned it its nomination.  On the other hand, "Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places" from CuriosityStream does.

Join renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds our time in an extraordinary journey across the cosmos as he shares his own story of inspiration, curiosity, perseverance and ambition.
If this category is considered to be special effects for documentaries, then this show might just be the favorite.

On to the next category.  Besides "Sonic Sea," the nominees for Outstanding Music and Sound are "Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes," "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness," and "Symphony of the Soil."  As I did with the last category, I'll examine the science and nature entries, although I might regret not doing all of them.  "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" is the Academy Award winner for Best Documentary (Short Subject) from 2016, which would make it stiff competition for "Sonic Sea."  I hope it wins one or both of Outstanding Short Documentary and Outstanding Documentary instead.

Back to science with the trailer for 'Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes' from National Geographic via Collect Space.

Thirty years after the tragedy, National Geographic Channel retraces the story of the space shuttle Challenger through rarely seen images, videos and news reports.
This clip can join my own tribute in memory of the Challenger astronauts.

Finally, here's the trailer for "Symphony Of The Soil."

Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.
Now, this looks and sounds like stiff competition as well, but it strikes me that it's another film from several years ago (IMDB says 2012, while the trailer is from 2013) that appears to have become eligible from being shown on U.S. TV for the first time last year.  Still, it's a film that, along with "Sonic Sea" and the rest of the nature films, that I will recommend to my environmental science students.

That completes today's look at the nominees.  Stay tuned for Science and Technology Documentary nominees tomorrow.


  1. More remarkable videos. I had heard of this problem of human-generated noise causing trouble for cetaceans. I guess from their point of view, humans are like the asshole neighbor upstairs who never turns their music down.

    On the second video, I could hardly understand what the interviewees were saying because of all the background noise. But given the topic, maybe that's fitting.

    About the 2014 ebola outbreak, what seems remarkable to me is that it killed only 11,000 people in an affected area with a population of several million, with public-health and sanitation conditions among the worst on the planet. Maybe we're not as vulnerable to really large-scale devastation by new diseases as we think we are. This is not to downplay the dangers to health workers on the scene, of course.

    The video on soil is, to me, yet another reminder of the absurdity of the dream of terraforming and colonizing Mars. The conditions that allow our food crops to grow in Earth's soil are very complex and developed over hundreds of millions of years. It's absurd to think we could replicate all that on a large scale on a lifeless world (and Martian soil is saturated with chemicals that would kill Earthly soil bacteria, anyway).

    1. I've been hearing and reading about this for decades. It was part of the background for Sperm Whales in the Ringworld game, which was published in 1984, 33 years ago. A U.S. Navy sonar test during the early 21st Century deafened them, leading to their extinction. As for us being their noisy upstairs neighbors, I think that's apt.

      I had to listen hard and turn on closed captioning for the second video. Then again, I don't think World Animal News is the most professional media organization, which you might gather from my comments chiding them on their lack of understanding about how the Emmys and Oscars work.

      That's a strikingly optimistic take on the pandemic. That doesn't mean you're wrong.

      Yeah, that's a bummer about Mars. No Matt Damon poop potatoes.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I have 302 entries about food, but you post this here. Sorry, off topic spam is deleted.

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    1. Whales use sonar, not quantum binary signals. Deleted.