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I've been asked by a friend to help create some convincing and comical voices for talking flies in a stop motion short.

After thinking about how to do this the best I could come up with was to pitch up normal speech a few semitones and then put a vocoder on the track channeling an external recording of flies buzzing about. But this isn't exactly giving me the desired result.

Does anyone have suggestions of how to make convincing insect voices?

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4 Answers

Hi, I recently did some sound work for a video game that had a massive beetle that talked. I vocoded the voice with dolphine clicks that I either sped up or slowed down, depending on the lines. Angry was for instance sped up while crying was slowed down and then vocoded on the voice. I also ended up vocoding white noise to the lines. In the end I had the wet and the dry version and mixed them together, making sure it was audible of what he said but still had the insect-like voice.

Hope it helps!

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Kazoos sound like flies. So I'd try to pitch and side-chain that...

[youtube]oau9gtG5Om8[/youtube]

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On the DVD for Star Wars episode 2 there is a behind the scenes documentary in which Ben Burtt briefly talks about creating the voice for a an insect like alien called Poggle.

The voice he creates sounds fantastic. He used a combination of his own vocal sounds and buzzing noises made by talking through the edge of a piece of paper, which he then cut up and rearranged to make it sound less human.

If you can get hold of the DVD its worth watching

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It might be neat to take a clip of a buzzing bee or fly and either have it gated/sidechained, or convolved, with the spoken lines such that only where a spoken line is sibilant, the buzz works itself into the mix. Kind of a fancier, post-production approach to the sibilant, hissing speech of the snake in the Jungle Book.

All that said, I think the success of any technique will be based on the original voicing of the character. If the talent is encouraged to think about speaking like a fly, that may give a richer starting point, but increasingly annimated film directors prefer realistic, human line delivery (compare the ladybug in Toy Story to Mickey Mouse, for example).

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