Thundercats Episode 4: The Circle of Life

This week, Thundercats sound editor Gerry Gonzalez guest blogs about creating the sound design for the Petalars.

First of all, I’d like to say hello to everyone reading this blog and give thanks to Jeff for allowing me to partake in this very cool discussion about the sound of Thundercats.  This episode was quite a change of pace from the previous three.  Whereas the first episodes were all about action, destruction and mayhem, this one was more about subtlety.

In this episode it was important to capture the fragility of these “Petalars.”  As they are leaf creatures, I searched our library for any kind of leaf movements and rustles and found that they were all just too heavy and noisy for a lot of the softer movements we needed to create.  Some of the sounds we needed to have were for grabs, body movements and footsteps, among other things.  Because these sounds were so specific, I decided to record them on my own.  I collected various types of leaves in all stages of their life cycle:  fresh ones, old ones, soft, dry, brittle, crunchy, yellow, green, etc…

With these leaves I was able to record many different types of movements.  Here are the names of the files I ended up with:

  • LEAF Crunch
  • LEAF Flailing
  • LEAF Running
  • LEAF Hands on Grass
  • LEAF Leaves Hug
  • LEAF Shaking
  • LEAF Flying Away
  • LEAF Young Leaf Mvmts

Unsolicited advice: I put the code “LEAF” on all of these recordings because once you have a session with tons of files and all manner of leaf sounds, you really want to be able to find your stuff as quickly as possible.  There are many different naming conventions that you can use to find files easily.  For this particular job, LEAF was all I really needed.  

You can hear an example of what I recorded in a particular scene where an old Petalar grabs a newborn Petalar (again, the key word here is subtle):

“Elder Petalar Grab”

iPhone or iPad? Elder Petalar Grab audio

Another interesting aspect to this episode was that the directors wanted to make sure we conveyed the idea that these Petalars grow up very fast, so they wanted the leafyness of the young Petalars to sound more fresh and creaky as opposed to the old Petalars who needed to sound crunchy and brittle. The younger Petalars would be more of a challange since our library is full of plenty of crunchy leaf samples, but the younger leaf texture is harder to get across.

Ultimately, for the run cycle of the baby Petalar, I used a sample called “Lettuce Rustle.” The lettuce sound worked really great for providing that rubbery, fresh, young texture. Had I searched only for samples of leaves, I would not have found it. Often times you need not automatically go for the literal sound you’re looking for. I don’t mean to sound cliché but If you think a little bit outside the box, you may find the perfect sound you’re hearing in your head.

“Baby Petalar Running”

iPhone or iPad? Baby Petalar Running audio

While custom records and library sounds can work well by themselves, sometimes it’s a matter of layering both together to find that perfect balance. There is certainly no reason to limit yourself to one or the other and many of the sounds in this episode were built this way, such as the larger body falls of the Petalars.

“Elder Petalar Falls”

iPhone or iPad? Elder Petalar Falls audio

Hopefully a lot of these subtle sounds come thru in the final product and only serve to enhance this very sad story of life being very fragile and fleeting. I know that when we saw the final mix here at the studio there were a few moist eyes in the room. I’m not mentioning any names but they sound like . . .

Gerry Gonzalez

Creative Toolkit:

  • recorded leaf samples
  • lettuce movement samples
This week’s image comes from JonWilksBeyond

3 thoughts on “Thundercats Episode 4: The Circle of Life

  1. This episode was awesome! Great job Gerry and Jeff, it’s a pleasure to listen to your amazing work every week. (and to mix it) 🙂

  2. The attention to detail is stunning. The music, the animation, the story… just pure awesome. I look forward to Fridays with extreme anticipation! Thank you for your creative input for the Thundercats series!

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