Technology is real… and it’s destroying everything in sight!
When we last left Lion-O and the gang, all was well in Thundera. Well, that’s all about to change as technology rears it’s head in the form of rockets, time bombs and giant robotic lizard walkers.
Did he say giant robotic lizard walkers?
One of my favorite elements I’ve designed for the show are the movements of these enormous robots. These are the first substantial piece of technology these cats have ever seen so it had to be super cool. Of course, it helps to have such amazing designs to work from.
First off, I have to credit producer Michael Jelenic for his direction. Typically, robot legs would be designed with servos and maybe some metal movement (clanks, turnstyles, latches, etc). From my work on Transformers Animated I was certainly no stranger to servos (In fact, we ran out of ‘stock’ servos super quick and moved on to designing our own servo library from scratch for each character). However, Michael wanted something much more other-wordly. That was all I needed to hear. I love that direction because other-worldly is basically a blank check made out to creative sound design.
I had it in mind that I was looking for something I could process for the walker’s legs. As luck would have it, I was cutting some explosions for a later scene and I found an ‘incoming shell whine’ (you know, the sound of a rocket ripping through the sky overhead) that fit the bill. Although I wasn’t designing the walker legs at that moment, it triggered something in my brain. Time to change gears.
Unsolicited advice: It’s good to be open to these moments of creativity because you never know when they’ll pop up. I’ve certainly banged my head against the wall trying to force creativity enough times to know that if a moment of inspiration like this shows up I should jump on it. Don’t worry, whatever you were working on will wait.
Here are some of the raw samples that I started with. Notice how the pitch changes. This doppler effect is the quality that I wanted to exploit. As you’ll hear, some of the samples had some wind noise, but I ignored it since ultimately they would be heavily processed.
Source sound effect: “Incoming Shell Whine”
iPhone or iPad? Incoming Shell Whine audio
Ultimately, I was looking for a vocoded type of sound for these legs. The way I heard it in my head, the legs would sound something like “wraaaaaohhhhhhhwwwwwuh.” OK, so that doesn’t translate all that well into text, but you get the idea. After some experimentation (there is always some experimentation) I found a patch that was based off a grain shifter. This might be a good time to dive into an explanation of grain shifter! OK, I’ll leave it for another post. Moving on…
Also included in the chain were a flanger and a stereo chorus. I think the flanger gives it some of the other-worldly-ness it needs and the chorus both depth and weight. The final effect was a robotic synthesized sound. The pitch shifting of the shell whines meshing well with the pitch shifting built into the FX chain was the icing on the cake. Exactly what I was looking for, plus they really come alive once you start pitching them!
“Lizard Walker Legs”
iPhone or iPad? Lizard Walker Legs audio
Still today these are some of my favorite sounds and they weren’t that hard to put together. I kept my ears open while working on another section and stumbled upon a great base sample and then I found a processing preset I only had to slightly tweak to get what I wanted.
As always, thanks for listening for what sounds like Jeff.
- Native Instruments KORE instrument and FX plugins
- incoming shell whine samples
- waves TrueVerb