Sonic Sea

Emmy-winning Documentary Produced & Directed by Imaginary Forces
Sound is essential to the survival of marine life, yet lethal human-made ocean noise continues to threaten this fragile ecosystem. Alongside Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we produced and directed Sonic Sea, a multi-winning Emmy documentary film advocating policy to protect our oceans from the destructive effects of underwater noise pollution. Learn more at


what we did

Directors Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld knew an emotionally resonant story was needed to create awareness and initiate action for Ocean Noise Policy. Watch behind-the-scenes below to see how satellite data from Google Ocean was translated into simple yet scientifically accurate animations. There’s also an exclusive interview with Michelle Dougherty and famed composer, Heitor Pereira, discussing the film’s Emmy-winning sound design.


and then...

Sonic Sea won two Emmys including Outstanding Nature Documentary and Outstanding Music and Sound, and was nominated for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction. More importantly, it helped spur the release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Shipping Noise Strategy. The documentary was instrumental in getting the Canadian government to decrease shipping in key migrational routes, and led to Maersk, the world’s second largest shipping company, fitting its ships with noise reducing tech. It has become a valuable educational tool all over the world to teach about noise pollution in our oceans.



  • directors: michelle dougherty & daniel hinerfeld
  • producers: michelle dougherty & daniel hinerfeld
  • co-producers: franceska bucci & lisa whiteman
  • written by: mark monroe
  • editor: christopher s. johnson
  • director of photography: stacy toyama
  • composer: heitor pereira
  • sound design and mix: sonic magic / trevor gates
  • consulting producers: michael jasny, tristan bayer, browyn barkan
  • executive producers: peter frankfurt, chip houghton, joel reynolds
  • an imaginary forces, nrdc, ifaw and diamond docs production