How Peter Jackson used recorded sound to bring the creatures of Middle-earth to life

Without a doubt, one of the most wonderful and fascinating aspects of Lord of the Rings The film is about the strange and wonderful creatures that exist in Middle-earth. Peter Jackson and the sound-scape team have done an extraordinary job bringing these unusual creatures to life throughout the movie adaptations of the popular trilogy, through the use of some very cool techniques. intelligence, including recorded sounds, physical props and foleys.

One of the scenes where audiences can experience a multitude of creative sound solutions for a wide range of beasts is in Mines of Moria. As their friendship goes underground in the first film, they are attacked by a cave troll, a group of orcs, and a Balrog. Cave troll, a large, aggressive creature, roams the mines threatening to break co-worker relationships. To make the troll seem as hostile and violent as possible, the team used the sounds of some of the most ferocious creatures on planet Earth – a tiger for the creature to breathe in and a lynx. Canada to exhale. But when Legolas finally shoots the creature in the head, there’s a definite moment in which the cave troll realizes his own death, and the scene’s sound transitions to the deep, muffled groans of the walruses that make the audience watch. fake sympathy for its death. in its final moments.


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The trolls in the cave acted only on the orders of the Moria Orcs that controlled it, and their sound was that of cockroaches, tumultuous in great numbers throughout the caves. Their grunts were made using bottle caps that the team ran through and messed around to create a cowhide effect. Then the relationship encountered The Balrog of Khazad-dur. This is a creature made entirely of stone and fire. The mixing team wanted the noise it made to represent this, which resulted in the scraping of giant concrete blocks across the wooden floor to create the grinding wheel sound that Balrog is famous for as it drags Gandalf from the falling bridge with him. it goes into the depths. below, before he sent back to earth as Gandalf the White.

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In Two towers, the sound must stretch to include a large number of organisms at once, because Uruk-hai army, fiercer than other Orcs, and the trees of Fangorn Forest were included in the trilogy. The only way Peter Jackson could see to producing the sheer volume and amount of sound needed for the siege on Helms Deep, was to go to the local cricket arena in New Zealand and draw in the noisy crowd. He made them stomp their feet and beat their chests to create the terrifying assault of the march, and give a Mordorian speech in the ancient language of the Evil Lord Sauron.

In the battle scenes, the foley plays an important role in creating the background noise of the troops fighting. The goblins can be heard shooting their bows, for which the group actually went to an archery range and recorded the sound of bows being launched, arrows flying, and the thump of the tail shaft hitting their target. The explosion of swords could be heard, along with the sound of shields and crackling explosions. The smallest detail was observed, right from the sound of Aragorn’s chain of letters.

For Fangorn, the sound of moving trees was a recording of a cow, set to a deeper and slower sound. A very important member of the Fangorn scene, Ent is called Treebeard, was created by recording the dialogue of John Rhys-Davies, who voices him, and then making them sound more natural. This is achieved by building a wooden box, through which the voice recording of the actor is played, and as it runs around the blocks and tunnels in the box, it creates a wooden and rattle sound texture. more expensive. This is then overlaid with the sound of wood chips. The sound of trees being cut down and branches hitting the ground became the iconic sound behind Treebeard’s austere footsteps. Finally, there are Fell-Beasts, dragon-like creatures that carry Nagul on their backs. The oral sound it makes has been recognized through recording a trick in the guts of a donkey, but perhaps more interesting is the sound of its flight, for which they used a cheese grinder. on a string, sway it around the studio to create that weightless buzz. the air was heard beneath the Nazgul’s wings.

After the huge success of the first two films, pressure is on the sound team to maintain, maybe even top, their previous two performances. This is not an easy feat. On the eve of battle, as the warriors of Rohan prepared to fight for their lives, Aragorn disappeared into an underground tunnel where no one dared enter, with Legolas and Gimli at his side, to summon army of the dead. He showed them Anduril, the sword bound them to an ancient oath to serve the king of Gondor, and they agreed, before scattering and freeing some 60-80,000 skulls from their underground kingdom. The sheer speed of this noise is produced when a coconut thrown down the stairs is bombarded, mixed with a kilogram of walnuts thrown down a concrete ramp.

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In a scene parallel to this one, Frodo is trapped in Shelob’s lair. Shelob, the giant spider demon afterward Return of the king, filled with a multitude of sounds, including the squeal of an alligator, the cleaning of steam from the coffee machine, the subtle screams of several members, and the angry battle sounds of the Tasmanian devil recorded at a local zoo, fused to produce her strange spider-like movements. But despite the sound of both Shelob and the army of the dead, there was another being within Return of the king there is an even more recognizable sound: the eye of Sauron. When the tower containing the orb saw it all crumble, there would be the eerie sound of broken glass, produced by using broken and grinding window shards together, accompanied by a creaking sound. piercing from the eye, caused by the mating of horses on set.

Finally, there’s the One Ring. Although it is technically an object or a relic, the ring is such a feature of its own that the sound designers have had to give the entire soundscape for the variety of emotions it evokes. create. The sound of the ring came from a subtle sinister whisper in Fellowship of the Ring, with a more intense voice combined with hints of strange music as it moves closer to reuniting with its owner in Two towers. At the end of the war Return of the king, the ring has become completely lifelike, using a combination of voices, vibrational melodies, and even human heartbeats, in the scene. Smeagol, who later became Gollum, kills Deagol, which increases the darkness of the scene and makes the audience realize just how evil the ring really is.

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Source: The Made of NS Lord of the Rings Documentary

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