How does sound help Drogon and Toothless come to life? Sound designers for “Game of Thrones” and “How to Train Your Dragon” have to get creative in order to invent the sound of a dragon. By layering the sounds of many animals they can create the sound of a whole new creature. Sound designers can also take inspiration from humans and animals. Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Most of us know what a dragon sounds like, but they don’t actually exist. And none can stop me! So, how does Hollywood know how to make them sound?
Narrator: Just like visual artists, sound designers take inspiration from the world around them. The sounds for creatures like dragons, dinosaurs, and even Chewbacca are based on real-world animals. A sound designer may use sounds from lions, elephants, cats, and even tortoises to create the sound for just one dragon. They’ll layer sounds together to create the sound of a nonexistent creature.
Paula Fairfield: So, my dogs are in the second episode of season five. There’s a scene that’s very intimate and you hear these like beautiful little nasal whistles. Okay, that was my dog, Angel. She’s in a lot of Drogon’s stuff and obviously in the wolves. So, I took that sound and put it in there.
Narrator: Paula Fairfield is a sound designer for “Game of Thrones.” Over the last five seasons, Paula has carefully crafted the sounds of Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. She even used the vocal screams of fans to create the sound generated by Viserion’s icy breath in the season seven finale. The final sound design of a scene is complex. It masks the individual sound effects so the viewer can’t identify the sources. But, we can build our own simplified version of a dragon’s sound. Combine some alligator, a little elephant, horse, add a pig and you’ve got the sound of a dragon. But, these are complex creatures. Dragons do more than just roar and breathe fire. Sound designers also use sound to craft a performance for the dragon. Just like Daenerys, Drogon needs to act and perform. Sound designers take emotional cues from animals to influence the sounds they create.
Paula Fairfield: I was really proud of the fact that you can always hear from the time he was, you know, a toddler to now you can hear the essence of him in his voice. You recognize him as Drogon. And I see them as like your puppy dog. I mean, we have grown up with these puppy dragons in our world, right? And, I think that’s why there is so much love for them. I’ve tried to bring my love of that into the show.
Narrator: Each dragon is unique and sound designers are always trying something new. In “The Hobbit,” director Peter Jackson used Benedict Cumberbatch’s original performance as Smaug to influence the sound design of the dragon. Many of the pauses, hisses, and vocal affectations came from Cumberbatch.
Smaug: So, tell me, thief, how do you choose to die?
Narrator: These details help make Smaug incredibly impactful and memorable. And, in the “How to Train Your Dragon” series, sound designer Randy Thom used different types of sounds for each species of dragon giving each type of creature their own unique sound. Dragons and other fantastical creatures add a larger-than-life element to stories. The most memorable dragons leave space for the sound to have an emotional effect on the viewer. Without the incredible sound design, “Game of Thrones” and “How To Train Your Dragon” may not be as memorable.
Daenerys: They’re beautiful aren’t they?
Jon: Wasn’t the word I was thinking of, but, but yes, they are.