So a new project hit my desk today. It's a doc about dinos, so I'm a little excited. I'll be trying some of the Dino hints, tips, and tricks that you all have already shared. But there's one aspect that has me a little concerned. In one scene they make a turn in the story about how the cold-blooded lizard T-Rex was actually more of a warm-blooded bird. Now this isn't brand new news, and it certainly doesn't make T-Rex any less of a scary beast. But I'm wondering, should it make a difference in how T-Rex vocalizes?

Now, I've yet to talk to the director to see if they actually want that info to change the vocal quality of the T-Rex (that's tomorrow morning's call). But I wanted to get a head start assuming a positive answer and am trying to brainstorm about how I could tackle this. Besides I think it's an interesting dilemma. And what better place to problem solve sound design, right?

So what kind of ideas do you guys have about shifting that perspective of T-Rex's nature within a shot. One moment he's standing tall, scaly skin stretching as he lets out a throaty roar, the next he's low and streamlined, head and tail in alignment, covered in a feathery fur belting out another roar. How would you approach that change in vocalizations?

To me, the obvious first step is changing the fundamental creature sounds that form the vocalizations. Growls, grunts and roars shift more toward coos, squawks, and calls. Also, they speak of the evidence of a lighter bone structure, which makes me think of changing resonance and pitch. Perhaps I could use the previous roar as an element with a raised formant? Or as a modulator for vocoding? Is it out of the question to completely change the character of the vocalization? I mean, they just put feathers on T-Rex...

I'm just brainstorming here, you guys want to help me out?

  • I put this as one of my dream-jobs in my other post - remember? You HAVE to let me help you on this!!! It's my dream job!
    – Utopia
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 2:18
  • I'd love the help @Ryan. Problem is, it's not my call to enlist help. Plus, I only have a week to sound design. Maybe less. Still interested? Get in touch, we'll see what if anything we can work out. In the meantime, got any ideas? Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 3:07
  • I meant just over this - pointers and ideas. Sorry, didn't mean I'd cut FX with ya - heh didn't mean it like that. Sorry! :)
    – Utopia
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 3:34
  • Lol, so @Ryan you're not after my job? ;) Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:09

3 Answers 3


Clearly a job for Paul Time Stretch, a pitch shifter and a Budgerigar!

  • Yeah I was thinking that I'd have to employ paul time stretch on this, just because haven't used it yet. :) Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:08

Maybe something along the lines of the sounds that Ostriches and Emus make, obviously scaled a little differently.

There are some interesting examples here: http://www.soundboard.com/sb/Ostrich_sounds_audio_clip.aspx

  • Nice link! I like those ostrich bellows. Thanks @Shaun! Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:06
  • @Steve - yeah they're interesting. i also really like the one sound in the emu file, that almost dove/pigeon like sound it makes about 12 seconds in. Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:12

One stigma you're obviously going to have to deal with is the public perception of what a T-Rex sounds like - meaning, the one that was made famous by Gary Rydstrom in Jurassic Park. Anything that you do differently is going to go against the grain of what your audience is expecting.

That being said, go ahead and buck the system. Gary Rydstrom wasn't present in the Jurassic era, so he doesn't know what it sounded like, either; he only presented a very compelling sound that fit the visual like a glove.

PS> I love Rydstrom's work - clearly he is one of the geniuses of our industry.

  • Finding Nemo, Minority Report,Bugs Life, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Backdraft... He either sound designed and/or mixed all of those... I'd say he's more than a genius and more like a God...
    – Utopia
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 2:50
  • Very true @Jay. Additionally I've worked with this director on dino shows before, so she already has a notion of what her T-Rex sounds like too. Now I just have to tailor a new glove. Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 16:09

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