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Sounding off in Burbank

Ryan Carter

David Kitchens was 6 years old when he began his search for sound.

“I just started recording things,” he recalled.

Then his parents got him a small camera, and Kitchens began


putting sound to the visuals. He still is.

Kitchens and Ben Zarai, owners of Juniper Post, a Burbank-based

post-production company, each won Emmy Awards earlier this month.

They won for Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming for


the company’s work on “James Cameron’s Expedition: Bismarck.”

“It was surreal,” Kitchens said of the Sept. 13 announcement.

Zarai said the company wasn’t trying to win an Emmy, but

acknowledged that he knew at some point during last year’s sound

production for the drama/documentary that he and Kitchens were on to

something good.

“It was a dream come true,” Zarai said.

The program, which began airing on the Discovery Channel in


December, was a high-cost adventure that featured dramatic battle

scenes and underwater adventures, all in a World War II setting that

chronicled the life of what was once thought to be a battleship that

could not sink. The Bismarck now lies off the coast of Ireland, three

miles below the surface.

The Burbank company’s team of sound editors, mixers and effects

artists worked tirelessly to put together sound for Cameron’s film,

which was completely silent when they got the video. The company


created the sounds of cannons, people, the rotors of remote operator

vehicles, the ship itself and the water splashing. Before that, “we’d

never even heard of some these devices,” Kitchens said. A lot of it

was done from re-recording mixer Eric Reuveni’s backyard pool.

Inside the studio, on South Main Street, are drawers full of

things to make sounds, including shoes and doorknobs. The team even

found a vintage typewriter to make the sounds of 1940s-era typewriter


It is a long way from 1990, when Kitchens worked as a runner for

Juniper Studios, then under a different owner. But Kitchens worked

his way up from “cleaning toilets,” he said. In 1994, he became

studio manager. Zarai was hired soon after to work with Kitchens. By

1998, they bought the company, which now boasts a team of eight, all

of whom have a musical background.

“We’ve been successful because we care,” said Kitchens. “We do not

want something bad to get out.”