“WEEEEEHAAAAA!” exclaims Kaipu Baker, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa sophomore who voices the character Maui in the Hawaiian language version of Disney’s Moana. The movie, a collaboration of five UH programs, is spearheaded by the Academy for Creative Media System and is being recorded at the Mike CurbMusic and Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE) sound studio at Honolulu Community College.

Jon Ross, MELE Audio Engineering Instructor, Jackson Waldhoff, MELE Student in Audio Engineering, 
James Ho, MELE Audio Engineering alumus are working with Hawaiʻi talent on Moana. 

“Just the level of technology and the professionalism that everybody held carrying throughout the project made it feel that we were making a very strong and concerted effort to really put forth the best project for our people,” says Baker, who is Native Hawaiian.

The star of the original film, Auliʻi Cravalho, is among those bringing the Hawaiian language version to life. At Honolulu CC, students and alumni are manning the sound boards as the vibrant movie plays on monitors in the darkened studio and the actors record their lines.

“This is an experience that is life changing,” says Daniel Gilad, a UH West Oʻahu creative media student and Honolulu CC audio engineering graduate. “Just seeing the production, seeing how producers from Disney approach things and the talent that was cast here, it’s just an unbelievable experience.” Noah Cronin working on Moana. 

James Ho, MELE Audio Engineering alumus, is a lead engineer on the project. “It’s been long 14 hours days working with amazing local talent and industry professionals.  The MELE program has prepared me well for this opportunity.”

IMG_7411.jpgHonolulu CC audio engineering graduate Noah Cronin, who is working as one of the sound engineers on the production, notes, “A lot of people don’t know that this studio and music business classes are here and it’s on a level that’s as high if not higher than some other music facilities on the mainland and around the world.”

Jackson Waldhoff , who will be graduating this May from the MELE program in Audio Engineering, shares this gratitude for the experience to work as an assistant engineer on the project. “We were able to have many of our current MELE students rotate in the sessions to observe and to participate in the process.”

The premiere is slated for summer 2018, followed by the distribution of DVDs and Blu-ray discs to educational programs such as Native Hawaiian language immersion schools.

“We’re doing this for educational purposes and that’s always been our goal,” says Chris Lee, director of the Academy for Creative Media System and executive producer of the Hawaiian language film. “It’s educational all the way through from inception, to execution and then distribution.”

Baker adds that education is the basis of prosperity and helping Native Hawaiians to move forward.

“Be what our ancestors were, which was really smart, literate, amazing scholars in their own right, and we can apply that to virtually every field and every walk of life so I think the University of Hawaiʻi is a really critical base to achieving that.”

News story by UH Media and Honolulu CC.