A Collaborative Post by Jacob Cook

Assistant Editor, BOOM BOX POST

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Earlier this week we orchestrated a mini monster-fest, recording an insane amount of monster vocalizations for a new series.  Just like when we did our Alien Recordings, we recorded almost everyone in the office performing a variety of sounds , giving direction as to the type of creature each person would be voicing and instructions on the types of sounds we needed.  Not only was this a total blast, but it reminded me how powerful our own voices are as a tool for sound design. As a result, these are my top tips for creating and designing great monster vocal material!

1. Embrace Your Inner Monster

Great source material for monsters can be hard to come by, but lucky for us we all have a monster creating machine built in!  Some of the most incredible and evocative monster sound effects have come from human performances, not to mention the advantages of being able to perform or direct a performer to create the specific sound you need.  When recording and designing monster sound effects, don’t be afraid to get crazy, experiment and push past your comfort zone. The more extreme your performance, the more evocative and alien it can become.

2.  Record At A High Sample Rate

As discussed in previous blog posts, recording higher quality files can yield incredible results when combined with tools such as pitch and time shifting.  When you are investing the time and effort to record custom vocals, it makes sense to capture the highest quality files possible.

3.  Layer, Layer and Layer Some More

Combining additional sound effects with performed monster vocals can add a sense of authenticity to the sound that could be difficult to achieve otherwise.  Layering dog or wolf growls in with human performed elements give a gritty realism to a Werewolf creature. Layering slime and insect sounds into an alien bug creature can lend texture and detail to the performance.  Don’t be afraid to get crazy, who knows what sound will give that extra edge your sound effects?

4.  Create a Vocabulary

If you are recording and designing monster vocals why not do a rally thorough job and create a whole mini-library?  By recording all manner of grunts, impacts, roars, breathing and etcetera, you set yourself up for easier editorial and a healthy chunk of files to add to your library for the next time you need a monster.

5.  Get Wild With Processing

We are lucky working in the digital era.  We have so many tools available to us it can be completely overwhelming.  That said, it is worth it to try out something new or un-intuitive, simply for the sake of experimentation.  Who knew that that fast flanger would add a distinct alien elements to the bug vocal you made, or that adding a higher pitched double to the monster would give it that horrifying spine chilling edge?  Experimentation can often spawn new creative ideas, and monster vocals are no exception!

What movies, TV and games showcase your absolute favorite monster and creature sound effects?  Let us know in the comments!

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