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***TTT-EE Appendices Discussion -- Soundscapes of Middle Earth, Part 3 -- Nature calls and why less is more.. ***

weaver
Half-elven

Sep 30 2010, 3:54am

Post #1 of 3 (308 views)
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***TTT-EE Appendices Discussion -- Soundscapes of Middle Earth, Part 3 -- Nature calls and why less is more.. *** Can't Post

Well, Trevelyan and Hamfast and I are having fun -- hope a few of you are lurking along with us -- don't be shy about diving in! Smile

Here's the third post in this look at the TTT-EE Appendices Feature on how they created the sound effects for TTT. This post covers these questions from my opening post for this week's discussion:

5. What wood you do to make John Rhys-Davies sound like an Ent?

The answer was in the question -- it was "wood" they used to do that! They wanted to give John Rhys-Davies' voice a "tree-like" resonance, so they built a wooden box and projected his voice through it and recorded that -- the box was built of several layers, to add "layers of wooden resonance" to the tone.

Now, apparently, with sound effects, you can go too far -- when they played back Treebeard's voice, using this effect, Peter said it was too much. Which brings us back to another part of the soundmaking process -- trial and error. In this case, while the approach was right, they had to keep working with it, and it tool a lot of stages and experience before they got it just right.

6. What's the difference between the Ring's "call" in FOTR and TTT?

They wanted the Ring's "call" to change as it got closer to its home...and to affect different characters in different ways, depending on how it worked on them. In the case of Frodo, they were going for a soothing kind of sound, to show how the Ring was working on him (a nice parallel to Gollum's approach to Frodo as well, to my mind); with Faramir, who was "more corruptable (guess they didn't read that chapter!), they went for a much stronger effect.

The Ring call is based on separate vocal musical notes that were recorded by a female stage musician with a very beautiful voice -- they worked with various combinations of these tones to get the effect they wanted each time.

7. Which sound was used to create which effect?
  • Donkey = Fell Beast's cry
  • Volcano rumbling = Uruk army approaching Helm's Deep
  • Trees being cut down = Treebeard's steps
Donkey sounds are apparently hard to get just right -- they didn't want the braying kind of "hee haw" sound (which would only be good, they said, if you were creating the sound effects for the old TV show "Hee Haw"). What they wanted was a very low cry and I guess you just hang around donkeys until they make that sound if this is your job...

For the Uruk army, they wanted to capture a sort of "relentless rhythm" -- volcano rumbling turned out to be perfect for this. They played several tracks of this to get the sense of an army moving at a distance and they kept this rhythm going in all of the Uruk marching scenes.

I suppose Treebeard would have a thing or two to say about sound guys cutting down trees to create his footsteps -- seems kind of wrong, doesn't it? To be fair, they did this at a family farm of one of the sound guys, and I got the impression these were trees that were going to be cut down anyway, so none were deliberately sacrificed for the film.

8. Why did they remove the sounds from some of the battle scenes?


The battle scenes at Helm's Deep were the most difficult things to do, sound-wise. This is because there are so many layers of sound involved -- arrows whizzing by, fighting, armor clinking, etc. While it's "counter-intuitive", "less is more" in these kinds of sequences, because if you included all the sounds that would be there in a real life battle, it would be too much and they would all cancel each other out. So they had to be selective about how much sound they created.

Some sounds were done by Foley artists, who are guys who get to act out all the human movement sounds while watching the film play for them -- they do the footsteps, the body movements of the main characters, and work with some of the smaller props. Other sounds, like the arrows flying, are added in on top of this.

Silence is used in some places for dramatic effect -- if you want an explosion to really stand out, you take out all the sound right before it, so that when it hits, it has a big impact without being as loud as a real explosion would need to be to get that effect.

And now, some follow-up questions for you on this part:

1. What did you think of the wooden box treatment for recording Treebeard? I confess, I did not make the "wooden" connection with his voice on screen, and I had a hard time understanding all of his dialogue in the theater . How did you "hear" him?

2. For me, the way they treated the Ring -- making it a character, giving it a voice, and using sound to differentiate how it worked on each person differently -- was really key to making the story work on screen. How much of the "power" of the Ring would you contribute to the sound effects used for it?

3. They fooled me on the volcano for the sound of an Uruk army -- that actually sounded like tens of thousands of armored bad guys marching to me. Has anyone actually heard a real volcano rumbling? Did it sound like an army?

4. For these films, it seems like they were always trying to capture really low animal sounds -- walruses, donkeys, etc. when it came to the sounds of the "bad" creatures. Why low sounds? If you were in charge, what animal sounds might you have picked to vocalize Tolkien's beastiary?

5.
Did you notice the way they pulled out the sound in some parts of the Helm's Deep sequence? (I confess, I notice the slowing down of the visuals in different parts more than the lack of sound, though those two go together a lot...). And are there any particular sounds from the battle scenes that you really liked or which especially stood out to you?

6. Any other thoughts that come to mind as you consider these questions? Feel free to add them here!

Weaver




(This post was edited by weaver on Sep 30 2010, 3:57am)


OhioHobbit
Gondor


Sep 30 2010, 7:35pm

Post #2 of 3 (188 views)
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Creating sound effects looks like so much fun. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What did you think of the wooden box treatment for recording Treebeard? How did you "hear" him?
I thought that Treebeard sounded terrific. The only thing that I thought was a bit strange was the talking on the inhale, but that was a minor thing for me. Alcarcalime objects to that a lot more than I do. I always imagined Treebeard’s voice with a bit more echoy reverb sort of sound, but I think that might have been a bit too Hollywood for the movie.

2. How much of the "power" of the Ring would you contribute to the sound effects used for it?
I think that the voices of the ring conveyed the ring’s “personality” more than its “power”. I think that the ring’s power was more conveyed at the beginning when Frodo offers the ring to Gandalf and at the end when the ring finally melts.

3. Has anyone actually heard a real volcano rumbling? Did it sound like an army?
Not only have I never heard a real volcano rumbling, I don’t want to ever, ever hear a real volcano rumbling!

4. Why low sounds? If you were in charge, what animal sounds might you have picked to vocalize Tolkien's beastiary?
I was going to say that they went with low sounds because chipmunks aren’t very scary, but then the cries of the Nazguls aren’t exactly low. Fran’s scream isn’t exactly low, and that’s really scary. I think that perhaps low equates with big.

A neighbor down the road has donkeys and every now and then one will let out a bray. NAZGUL!

5. Did you notice the way they pulled out the sound in some parts of the Helm's Deep sequence? And are there any particular sounds from the battle scenes that you really liked or which especially stood out to you
One of the things that I liked were the vocalizations the Orcs made right after the first one was shot.

6. Any other thoughts that come to mind as you consider these questions?
I think that Foley artist would be a really neat occupation. Smile



weaver
Half-elven

Oct 7 2010, 11:54pm

Post #3 of 3 (172 views)
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the Treebeard soundbox was really something... [In reply to] Can't Post

It was about six feet long -- and it wasn't just hollow, it had all of these baffles in it, kind of like a 3-D maze, so that the sound would bounce around a lot -- really interesting device...

Yep, personality makes more sense than power on my Ring voice question-- where were you when I formulated that question? I could have used your help! Smile

Thanks for chiming in -- fun answers!

Weaver



 
 

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