Extinct Animals_sound-02 Asbjoern Andersen

How do you create the sounds of dinosaurs? Hear about the extensive work and creative solutions that went into creating Articulated Sound's impressive Extinct Animals - The Jurrassic sound effects library - told by Vincent Fliniaux and Tibo Csuko:
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Extinct Animals - The Jurassic - Trailer

Extinct Animals – The Jurassic – Trailer

How did you come up with the idea for this library? Can you outline what this library is and who it is for?

Vincent Fliniaux (VF): Extinct Animals – The Jurassic was an idea me and Stephane Dufour (Articulated Sounds) had a few years ago. I was kind of surprised a subject as popular as Dinosaurs wasn’t covered that much in the professional audio library world. There are already some great animal and creature vocal libraries out there, but one focusing exclusively on Dinosaurs with a “realistic” or “naturalistic” approach was something we felt was new and fresh enough to work on.

This library features 7 Dinosaur species: T-Rex, Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, Compsognathus, Mosasaurus, Triceratops and Pterodactyl. Each Species is divided into 9 “actions”: Aggro (which is a call or scream the Dinosaur is making when focusing on something or somebody, it’s also usually the signature sound of each species), Attack, Pain, Death, Idle, Inquisitive (close to idle but with an inquiring behaviour, spotting something behind a bush or looking for a mate) and also two Foley actions: Fall and Walk. You get multiple variations per action, each of those variations are also delivered with synced layers (like music stems), letting the sound designer or sound editor experience more flexibility compared to a single master bounce file.

Tibo Csuko (TC): Regarding who could be interested in such a library, I would say pretty much everyone looking for detailed Dinosaur sounds, be it for a film, a video game or a documentary. It’s also perfect to design your own creature sounds thanks to the stems that act as a toolbox for further processing and layering with your own material. Dinosaurs are anchored in a past reality so they are very useful for less sci-fi / alien creatures which are often more difficult to create. As an example, we are working on a Fantasy RPG game right now, and this library has proven to be a very important asset when designing all the fauna. Being able to validate the practical usage of your own library in a gig situation is always very gratifying.


What were your best inspirations?

TC: For obvious reasons, the work of Gary Ridstrom and his team on the Jurassic Park franchise was an ideal source of inspiration. The YouTube channel INDEPTH Sound Design provided excellent behind-the-scenes footage with Gary’s commentary. It was incredibly useful and helped shape our overall process for the library. We also looked at the game Jurassic World Evolution as it provided a more in-game oriented take on the sound design of the franchise.

VF: The difficulty was then to avoid sounding too close to the signature sound of Jurassic Park and find our own take on this. We looked a bit further and found some great inspiration from the work of Dave Whitehead and Michelle Child on the movie Arrival and their process for designing those otherworldly, yet very organic, almost naturalistic alien gods. How they captured various animals’ vocalisations mixed with props and mouth-made sounds proved to be an excellent approach for our library. Also, the final mix quality of this movie was something we really aimed for, powerful and intricate at the same time.

TC: The work of Francisco Godinho for the video game Saurian was also super interesting to explore, as it tackled this subject with a very naturalistic approach.

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What kind of research was involved in the process of designing extinct species sounds?

TC: Designing an extinct animal sound is in some ways more difficult than creating one for an imaginary creature. In fact, I think it applies to all real-world sounds in general, especially when this sound doesn’t exist anymore! For Dinosaurs specifically, Gary already paved the way in such an iconic manner that it is even more difficult to make your sound exciting and fresh compared to such work. So it was a real challenge and involved a good amount of research and iteration.

Explore the full Extinct Animals – The Jurassic sound effects library:

  • ‘Extinct Animals’ is a new series of Sound Effects Library by Articulated; aspiring to bring back to life creatures from the past which were never recorded before.

    ‘The Jurassic’, the first installment of this series, contains more than 400 sounds of various animals that were living about 100 million years ago, commonly known as dinosaurs.

    Every of the sound in this collection is of the highest quality, UCS-compliant, and presented in multiple
    layers and with a minimum of 5 variations.
    Created for maximum usability, this exclusive library is the result of collaborations with talented designers from Bruits Studio.

VF: We started doing a good amount of general research on each species we were aiming to design. (Characteristics, environment, scientific publications, etc…). When you start this process, you soon realise Dinosaurs in movies and games are far off from scientific conclusions found in specialised reviews. For example, it’s now admitted that the T-Rex couldn’t really roar, and instead produced a very deep rumble, like a giant cat purr which is not very impressive in the context of a film or a video game. That’s where you have, as a sound designer, to make the decision of sticking as close as possible to reality, or diverge from it a bit and create exciting aural content that still feels plausible.

TC: Another point worth mentioning is the recording process involved for this library. We started scouting and recording new material in March 2020, right on time for the worldwide COVID lockdown. Our aim for a lot of animal recordings was therefore compromised. Zoos and animal shelters were very uncomfortable at letting two recordists record for a full day. We eventually were able to manage a few recording sessions like a bird of prey shelter and a marine wildlife refuge. Thanks to Stephane, who was living in Asia at that time, we were able to record European AND Asian species (elephants, pigs, exotic birds with crazy vocalisations, etc..).

VF: Lastly, we experimented a lot with all of the material we gathered and during this process, our collective labor forces were proven. A classic scenario was that one of us added new sources into our pool of sounds and then this material became a source of inspiration for the other who might process, transpose and/or layer it to create new sounds. This back and forth could last very long and is an incredible way of keeping the creative flow.

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How long / how much work was involved in the process?

TC: Way longer than we originally thought!

VF: Yes! Establishing our needs for recording sources then contacting people for access to specific locations/facilities was a tedious task. And as we mentioned earlier, due to the COVID situation, animal recordings were way more difficult to schedule, too.

TC: Yes, indeed. So one other very important part of this library was props and mouth-made recordings. We did a crazy amount of experimentation with props like Hog Callers, Duck Callers, Boar Callers, Balloons, Glass & Plastic friction, Magic Slime, Straws etc… At that time, Tim Prebble had just released his “Slime Vocals” library, it was very inspirational for us. Hog or Duck Callers on their own sound OK, but plunge them in magic slime and you unveil a whole new timbre. Slime acts a bit like a resonance chamber, perfectly imitating the throat of a living creature. When you force a caller, it starts to make all kinds of crazy “unwanted” noises, especially if the slime starts to block your breathing, you can do natural stutters and such.

T-Rex Sound Design - Behind the Scene I [Extinct Animals] - Vincent Fliniaux [Bruits Studio]

T-Rex Sound Design – Behind the Scene I [Extinct Animals] – Vincent Fliniaux [Bruits Studio]

VF: About the design process, it’s been a few libraries since I started to use this technique:

instead of the usual raw sources and final designs, I’m now pre-designing those elements which I’m calling building blocks. This category of sounds would fit in between sources and designs. It’s a mix of polished raw materials and new sounds generated with extreme transpositions or interesting combinations of sources. In the majority of cases, those sounds are slightly processed or pre-mastered, just enough to make them more inspiring and easier to use for the final designs. It’s also usually an iterative process so building blocks can then be polished, transposed, combined and processed again and again.

Extinct Animals_sound-05

Is there any specific tool, gear, or software you found that was the most appropriate for the making of this project?

VF: Obviously the Sanken CO-100K was kind of decisive here. It allowed us to keep a lot of details in the extremely transposed raw material. However, it should not be believed that this is enough, it is also necessary to find the type of performances that sounds best once transposed two or three octaves lower. For example, coughing is very interesting because the initial transient sounds very aggressive after transposition.

TC: Regarding software tools, plugins like Soundtheory’s Gullfoss or iZotope Neutron Sculptor let us really reveal hidden gems in recordings. Vincent also found a kind of secret weapon we’re gonna talk about in a minute.

VF: Also about software tools, I think we both like to use experimental generative and random processes so we explored Radium, the sound design dream sampler integrated into Soundminer. I also built some custom Reaper scripts to make happy accidents a breeze. It proved to be really helpful when inspiration was trying to escape.

TC: But to be honest the most important tools turned out to be the basic editing moves we all know (slice, cut, paste, reverse, fades) because layering was everything! I would say 85% of the work and the key for a good result was to find the perfect combinations of sounds. Sometimes even just the slightest sound can destroy or make for an amazing design.

VF: Back to the secret weapon. It’s something I use a bit less now because it’s very characteristic and I tend to avoid using effects when I can “hear” them but sometimes it’s really the last ingredient that’s missing in your design. The trick is really easy, especially in Reaper where you can use parallel processing on the same track. It consists of sidechaining a signal by itself with the MeldaProduction Mvocoder plugin and tweaking the whitening and ratio knobs, that’s it. It adds an indescribable element to any sounds, a bit like using a magnifying glass on the most prevalent elements and vice versa.

Mosasaurus Sound Design - Behind the Scene II [Extinct Animals] - Tibo Csuko [Bruits Studio]

Mosasaurus Sound Design – Behind the Scene II [Extinct Animals] – Tibo Csuko [Bruits Studio]

What was the most challenging part of creating these sounds?

TC: As mentioned earlier, I think the strong universal and unconscious expectations about such sounds is very demanding for a sound designer. It’s a challenge in itself to be as close as possible to what people expect in order to create excitement while keeping a fresh and personal signature. I think another challenge was to make those sounds complex enough to be interesting, yet not too much to avoid sounding like a Chimera with 3 or 4 animals roaring at the same time. It is usually one of the easy pitfalls, layering a bunch of different recordings that don’t really fit together sonically speaking, making the creature sound like if it’s a mix of 4 distinct animals sounds, that even though they may convey the same emotion, most of the time don’t blend together enough in order to have a natural result. Randy Thom shared a very interesting thought about this, on how you can manipulate the pitch and processing of the overall sound, rather than layer by layer, in order to create the natural illusion that all the layers come from the same modulation source aka the mouth and throat of the creature.

VF: Also, it may become very difficult to design a lot of actions while keeping the personality of the entity. Usually, the perfect combination of sources giving the character of the creature is kind of fragile. I remember using almost only one pretty short and noisy donkey scream to create the T-Rex characteristic element. In this situation, you really need to squeeze everything you can from this material. So potential ideas could be to transpose, use the duplicate forward-reverse technique, slice then rearrange the source fragments, etc…

TC: The last challenging part was to convey and above all respect the size hierarchy (small, medium, large, huge). Sometimes you are so much into it that your medium creature is sounding larger than the huge one and of course, it becomes a problem. So each Dinosaur should be placed in context to be sure to stay coherent.

Extinct Animals_sound-06

Are there any funny stories, or crunchy anecdotes from the making-off?

TC: Discovering that the Atlantic Seal, which can be found on the southwest French shores, doesn’t actually make that much of a sound! I went to a marine wildlife refuge here in Biarritz and started to point the mics to my dear seals only to stop the recording after 2 hours of punctual snorting and breathing. It was very early in the morning and cold. I was expecting a lot more! Later, when I was packing, I met one of the vets that told me, “Oh, you should have asked a member of the caretakers team, they indeed only breath and make those rare snorting sounds once in a while”. Ugh, noted for next time!

Extinct Animals_sound-07

VF: On my side, nothing crazy, maybe just for the predatory birds, I was really excited when I started to hear their screams and calls but after a few minutes of happy recording, the neighbour decided to do some logging outside. So I caught 1 hour of awesome close bird sounds with a chainsaw in the background, glorious! Eventually, there were no more trees to kill so I had another hour of clean recordings after that.

If you were to do that project again, what would you do differently?

TC: We would add even more Dinosaurs! No, but seriously, maybe we would wait for Spring to record animals, that’s when they produce the most amazing vocalisations because there is a great chance they’re gonna be horny.

Extinct Animals_sound-08

Any advice(s) for the beginner that seeks to elevate her/his career in the world of sound?

TC: Don’t be shy to showcase your work to people, continuously look for open gigs, be sure to be good at mixing (you can make an amazing sound with crappy recordings, but you can also make amazing sounds with the shittiest recordings). Trust your cans or speakers and test your sound in various situations so you get to know them better. I won’t say expensive gear is not needed but I will say knowing your system is way more important. Also make good contacts with audio peers, propose to them some work to be done even if it’s at a low rate in the beginning, at least you’ll get a chance to showcase your skills.

There is not a good or bad way to do something ( well there is, but that mostly concerns technical stuff like mixing targets or client requirements etc…). Every time you watch a “tutorial” about “how to use a compressor” you’ll end up with this quote, “It’s a matter of taste”. I’ve been disappointed numerous times myself at the beginning! ( I’m self taught, an internet kid all that). Truth is: It’s true. You just need to open the manual to see what you can do with this or that plugin, and then practice a lot with it until you know how to achieve a certain type of sound. By practising, I mean experiment. Even if the result ends up being bad, you’ll know the limitations of this plugin that way, and when the result is amazing, you’ll know that you need this plugin for certain tasks. It’s always a matter of experimenting and getting your brain to acquire reflexes, intuitions that you need “this plugin” to make this design sound cool. (In a certain way, this is close to Mike Gordon’s statement “Change the Process, Change the Outcome” from the 2017 GDC talk about the Doom soundtrack, which I really, really love, both the music AND the composer obviously).

About Field Recording: I see more and more of the “everyday” challenge popping up here and there. In my case, at the beginning, it mostly brought stress and fear of not being dedicated enough. Then I realised my take on this is the other way around: I like to do freaking extensive recording sessions. Sure, everyday challenge is good to create a habit and maybe develop a certain technical skill, but for me it’s a bit like “looking at a piece of art for 5 seconds, then move to another one etc…”. Sure you witnessed the whole exhibition, and a lot of exhibitions, but my take on this would be more “Spend one hour glaring at a piece of art, so you know every detail of it, like you would almost know the painter personally”.

It’s like letting your brain fall into this world of imagination, of meditation. And sound is a perfect place for this: I like to take a whole day or a whole afternoon just to capture every detail around me, or from a certain object. You literally fall into another state of consciousness where your brain only focuses on the sound and the tiny variations it can produce. I once had the chance to attend a workshop run by Akio Suzuki. The workshop consisted of finding interesting acoustic anomalies in London, interesting listening spots, and just stand there, long enough to grasp every detail and anchor it in your brain. A sort of mediation. That’s how I approach field recording. Sometimes I don’t record anything for two weeks, but I make sure to unlock some free time (or paid time for a gig) to fully listen. That’s just another approach that works best for me.

VF: I would say try to use this wonderful resource that is the internet in the best way possible. By that I mean, don’t be overwhelmed by the gigantic amount of (sometimes contrary) information you can find there and try to not compare yourself too much with all the brilliant people you will discover (remember that they usually showcase their best work). Keep focus on what you want to learn and try to grab the thing that you couldn’t find on your own. Good luck!

A big thanks to Vincent Fliniaux and Tibo Csuko for sharing the story behind the Extinct Animals – The Jurassic library. Be sure to check out the full library here.

  • ‘Extinct Animals’ is a new series of Sound Effects Library by Articulated; aspiring to bring back to life creatures from the past which were never recorded before.

    ‘The Jurassic’, the first installment of this series, contains more than 400 sounds of various animals that were living about 100 million years ago, commonly known as dinosaurs.

    Every of the sound in this collection is of the highest quality, UCS-compliant, and presented in multiple
    layers and with a minimum of 5 variations.
    Created for maximum usability, this exclusive library is the result of collaborations with talented designers from Bruits Studio.


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