How should monsters really sound?

In his TedxTalk, Tasos Frantzolas shares one thing that all sound designers have in common: they lie. They don’t do it on purpose, Rather, they use sounds that might not be ‘accurate,' but they use sounds to illicit the desired response. 

If you had the chance to see the latest King Kong movie, you know that Kong and his reptilian foes are massive yet visually convincing and familiar. Kong walks like a human and looks like an ape, and the large insects look like a daddy longlegs. It’s a convincing approach. But when it comes to the sound of these creators, did the filmmakers do an accurate job?
In a recent post from The Verge, Associate Editor Alessandra Potenza ask that same question. “The way these monsters look is often based on real animals. Potenza has the same thought: “What would a giant beast sound like?”

In movies like "Kong: Skull Island," "Godzilla," and "Jurassic World," the lizard monsters roar and the gigantic ants sound like birds. While the way this beast look is based on real animals, but the sounds they make isn’t based on science. 

“Movies aren't focused on the depicting accurate sounds for a lot of reasons,” says Alessandra Potenza, Associate Editor at The Verge. “When it comes to giant creatures and monsters it's just better to shut off the science part of your brain if you can.”

In order to get a straight answer, Potenza and her staff went to paleontologists to see if they could give them a better understanding. Some of these scientists even worked with in providing them guidance with how these creators should sound. 

Sturat Sumida, a paleontologists advisor for Kong: Skull Island and dozens of other movies, is quick to point out that these movies are not real, accurate depictions of these creators. 

“The very fist thing you have to say upfront absolutely is we know we’re not making documentaries. Some cases like the lizard reptiles things are completely fictitious creatures, but you want them to feel like they live in the universe that the movie is portraying,” Sumida. “And in the case of the title character, there is no ape that looks like that because he walks like a man, but he’s not a gorilla, he’s King Kong. So he’s a different species as far as the movie is concerned.” 

These filmmakers and other professionals are working towards creating a realistic sound of fictitious creatures. Potenza points out that “This gives filmmakers the opportunity to create something that in most cases works to elicit a certain emotional response — instead of an actual realistic auditory response.” 

So let the Kong roar and the Raptors call out! If you're interested in learning more about the correlation between monster sounds and how they should sound, check out this video from The Verge.