Randy Thom – a dragon vocalisation to influence the animators

Vocalisation of dragons and dinosaurs was a theme that Randy Thom returned to more than once during his talk at The School of Arts, Culture and Environment at The University of Edinburgh. He is currently working on the vocalization of an animated dragon and is clearly excited about his opportunity to influence the animators.

Just as actors are filmed during the recording of their vocal performance to influence the animators Randy sees this as an opportunity to invent a dragon vocalization that suggests how the dragon behaves prior, during and after the roar. His sound for the dragon is a work in progress but he explained the need to think about the possible body movement of the dragon pre and post roar.

One of his many soap boxes is to encourage sound to be considered at the start of the film not as an afterthought – so clearly the scope to influence the animators before the animated film is brought into life is of great satisfaction to him. I guess that’s akin to getting all the big risky items out the way before the start of a software project for us. But I’d rather be playing at being a dragon.

Randy Thom also worked on the vocalisation of the Martian Tripods in the remake of War of Worlds. During his talk at The University of Edinburgh he used the challenge to explain the need for serious consideration regarding sound at the beginning of a film. The challenge that the Tripods presented was that they had no obvious visual cue that they were communicating – Randy suggested that perhaps had they moved during the sounds that that would have made things more successful.

To reach a desired sound for the communication of the Tripods he regularly visited Stephen (that’s Mr Spielberg to me) and tried to get to a sound that seemed effective. Mr Spielberg didn’t want a copy of a dinosaur type sound for obvious reasons and instead wanted a horn type effect – in the end a combination of ships horn and brass instruments provided the desired result. How cool is that? – flying down to meet Stephen to come up with the sound for a Martian Tripod.


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