I saw in the DVD extras on the sound-work for Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers a special section about how they created the Tree-Beard voice.

Some of the video footage shows the voice being recorded on set with a Schoeps MK41 with no popscreen about 4 feet away from the actor and the actor was even holding up his script. He was also projecting/yelling like he was on a theater stage...

This couldn't possibly be the track they used for mixing, right? It had to have been just a guide-track and for reaction purposes for the hobbits hanging off of him on set.

I would hope they re-recorded his voice in a booth or sound stage without the ambient noise and paper shuffle and off-axisness of that mic.

Does anyone know? Tim, do you know how they ended up recording John Reese Davies as Tree-Beard?

If it actually was the audio from the set, I am in awe of whoever edited that dialogue and mixed it... Sorry if this is a random question - it's been bugging me for a while how they did this.

2 Answers 2


Funnily enough the film I just started on yesterday Mike Hopkins is the dialogue supervisor and as he was supervising dialogue editor on LOTR I asked him.... First it wasn't a Schoeps - Mikes not a fan of them, but you are right - that would have been guidetrack recorded on set (I think TreeBeard was mostly VFX in the end) So the actual voice used was recorded in the lovely big ADR studio at Park Road Post using an MKH50 mic... In terms of processing, they did some pitch shifting but also did a lot of experimenting with worldising; apparently a tree-like resonant chamber was built (except not a single straight log shape, more complex with a number of corners & chambers that could be closed off etc) They did a lot of experiments with it, but also about that time Dave Farmer arrived here and brought Altiverb with him. So they captured IRs of the resonant chamber and printed versions of it as well as other IRs.... Dave Whitehead also did a lot of work on the voice, editing & mapping wood creaks & groans (using Metasynth as well as PT) Mike said in the final mix they had the clean pitched voice, the printed IRs and a group of the FX tracks, so the balance was found depending on how intelligible the voice needed to be at any moment... If it was groans and calls then more of the IRs and FX elements were used, whereas for 'dialogue' those elements were held back...

  • @Tim. Wow. I thought you might know Mr. Hopkins. My jaw dropped when I read you actually asked him yourself! Give my thanks and praise to Mike and yourself. Thanks a lot!
    – Utopia
    Aug 31, 2010 at 6:25

I had that DVD a while ago. I can't wait to get my hands on a blue ray extended version. Anyway, I think John Rhys Davies was just holding the script up for the camera. Besides, I'm sure anyone in the room recording that session for the movie would have asked him to not ruffle pages while he's doing his dialogue. By anyone, I mean ANYONE, including a newbie audio intern who got chewed out for not cleaning out the kitchen refrigerator as requested. That person would probably have as much right to point out that the VO actor was ruining the session with all that page shaking and such.

Plus no pop filter? That could have been your first clue that the actor was performing for camera.

  • I'd be shocked if you actually needed a pop filter with a mic 4 ft. away from the actor. ;) He was probably referring to the idea that you would get a lot of the room in that recording. Aug 31, 2010 at 11:50
  • True, you wouldn't need one at that distance. But I wouldve had an issue with keeping the actor so far from the mic in the first place unless there was a specific effect needed. Sep 1, 2010 at 3:13

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