Thundercats Episode 1 (premier part 1): The Lion, The Whip and The Wardrobe

Reminding you Thundercats are in fact cats, designing Tygra’s magic whip, and admiring Cheetarah’s new look.

To keep posts to a reasonable length, I’m splitting the premier up into two parts. Come back later this week for part 2 and we’ll get into all the cool battle tech!

The Lion (and many, many, other species):

An early consideration was how much we should play up the whole ‘these characters are actually species of cats’ vibe. It can be easy to forget that these ‘humanoid cats’ (as my DVR’s info screen hilariously describes the original series) are still animals. It was important to find a balance but to be sure to pepper in feline sounds wherever possible.

As a result, animal sweeteners have really become a feature of the show in many respects because the world of Third Earth is populated by all kinds of species that need their own sweeteners (such as the lizards in this first episode). Sometimes it’s as easy as slugging in the appropriate animal sounds from our library, and other times, it’s more creative work. A great example would be the alien birds we have designed. I started with naturalistic bird samples, so they would sound familiar, yet these bird calls don’t exist in our world. Keep your ear out for these and other alien birds to pop up throughout the series.

This first example was built from a sample of a short owl call and was constructed in two parts. For the first half, I simply cleaned up the sample and created a repeating duplet of two different pitched calls at a steady rhythm. Easy and effective. For the second half, I played with the tempo more, creating the more rhythmic style call of a sparrow or a robin using these same samples. I built a grid by repeating the sample, found a rhythm I liked (for you music savvy readers, I went with 3 sixteenth notes followed by sixteenth note triplets leading to downbeats). Then I pitched the last call of each cluster accordingly. It all sounds very fancy, but it really just boils down to a lot of experimentation. I try something, think “Does this sound too alien? Is it alien enough?” and once I’ve found a balance I like, we’re all good. This particular bird makes me think of morning and the sun rising (maybe it’s just me?).

“Alien Bird #1”

iPhone or iPad? Alien Bird #1 audio
Listen for it in the show: Approx 9min 30sec

For this second example I started with a nightingale. The process was pretty similar. I found a rhythm I liked and ran with it. I think this one sounds more like an evening bird (although the fast tempo of it’s call doesn’t sound very restful).

“Alien Bird #2”

iPhone or iPad? Alien Bird #2 audio
Listen for it in the show: Approx 6min 15sec (listen hard for this one… it’s pretty low)

Tygra’s Weapon of Choice:

Another cool effect in this episode is Tygra’s whip which allows him to disappear. Check it out below.

*FUN FACT: this effect was shown during the colosseum scene while Tygra is fighting Lion-O in an earlier cut but was removed in subsequent versions. I can only assume they wanted to save this surprise for later in this episode when all the Thundercats are together showing off their mad fightin’ skills.

“Tygra Magical Disappear”

iPhone or iPad? Tygra Magical Disappear audio
Listen for it in the show: Approx 4min 4sec

The wardrobe?

OK, I really just needed this third bit for the pun, but while we’re on the topic, have you seen Cheetarah on this show?!? Yowza!

Finally, a fun personal tidbit. In the final fight scene a small cat turns and gives a very worried ‘meow’ just before Tygra punches him in the face (yikes!). I’m proud to say that is my cat Samson who was kind enough to do some ‘frightened cat’ ADR recording for me (it helped that my wife Corey was trimming his nails at the time). Looking back, he even looks a bit like the character I had him voice. What do you think?

As always, thanks for listening for what sounds like Jeff.

Creative Toolkit:

  • Native Instruments KORE instrument and FX plugins
  • owl and nightingale samples
  • waves TrueVerb
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