Smaug's voice - any help?

Hi guys.
Hi… Admins :wink: Please don’t be mad if I picked the wrong thread, but I wasn’t sure where should I start writing.

Anyway, here’s the challenge. A fiend of mine asked me to create a live effect or (more probably) record his voice and make it Smaug-like, right? It’s meant to be used in a show in the theatre I work at.

Now I’m listening to his (Smaug’s) voice on youtube and thinking. All I was able to get in Ardour was this: detune my voice about seven-eight semitones down, add some reverb, maybe a bit of delay (why not, for the cave effect;) ), maybe some EQ (boost some bass), but still it’s ‘pretty fluffing far from ok’. Besides, during such radical detuning the speech becomes unclear, especially every S’s, SH’s and other hissing consonants (I’m Polish, there’re plenty of them in our language).
So, some exciter maybe? Band compression on low frequencies? Any other steps, ideas?

Guys, just friggin’ listen to that Smaug’s voice in the movie! This thing is brilliant. It’s clear, deep and authentic. I want to be able to do that too. I know it’s the actors’ voice itself, but it’s beautifully processed and I don’t know how.

And last but not least: why I’m asking here? It’s my own honorable quest - to get this done in Ardour, of course! (OpenSUSE).

I’ll be most grateful for any kind of advice, ideas, maybe some solutions that some of you have already used.


Heh well this is where you can get into the quality of some plugins, makes a big difference.

This sounds suspiciously like a project I give my students in one of my classes, recreate iconic sound effects. So my first thoughts based off listening on laptop speakers, so keep that in mind, is a slight pitch down, EQ work, verb, maybe slight and very short time, to the point of it not sounding like a verb, – maybe a bit of chorusing, but that may have been the video compression kicking in – but also some work on the breath, not just the voice. His breath is distinctive, and part of what gives him that identity, I can hear a few things going on there in as far as source sounds and a bit of work on them, then mixing the two together is probably what gives the final impression you want.

But again this is just first impressions listening on laptop speakers. Would be fun to recreate (Part of why I give that assignment to my students) but I am a bit short on time right now to do so at the moment I think.


@seablade: That’s annoying, when you can’t see some obvious things. Now I’m thinking about movie sound creations and it’s pretty sure that there might be more sound layers than the processed actors’ voice. Plus I didn’t hink of chorus. I’ll check it. Many thanks for your suggestions!

The Smaug’s breath sounds sort of like a diesel. Seems like I won’t be able to get thing done without a few different layers. Heck, that’ll be a lot of work and sample searching :wink: Yet the breath’s not present all the time, and the voice remains cool.

There’s one thing that’s especially cool - the word ‘Death’ in Smaug’s last sentence in this video. It’s clear, that there’re at least two pretty different sound layers and this single word is what I’m exactly looking for. But AFAICT it’s simply layering two or more samples, which were recorded separately.

There’s one very serious obstacle to defeat. Benedict Cumberbatch has the Voice. The Voice. I’m afraid that my colleague is far below this level of manipulating his own voice. Ben’s acting clears one thing - sound engineers didn’t have to work very, very much on his recording. They only had to work… well, some.

You wrote about his breath, and I mean that low sound present when he speaks. According to the second video, it really seems to be expressed by Cumberbatch naturally, and if the mic was super- or hipercardioid, the enclosure effect (I mean bass boost while you keep the mic close, what is it called exactly in English?) would be even more audible, hence the ‘bassy’, deep vibrations, of course enhanced a bit later. Would you agree with that?

Creating movie sounds has to be a lot of fun, and it’s a real pity that I can’t participate in your classes. Plus your hints suggest, that you’re an experienced guy. Glad that some more sound geeks are out there and that someone teaches young people to, you know, listen knowingly and to understand the sound.
Thank you again!

Rubberband ladspa plugin?

@RattusB, ofc I need to use a pitch shift to tune down the performer’s voice, but if you listen to the dragon’s voice, you’ll hear a hell of a lot of different things in the sound. And that’s the point :slight_smile: