Capturing Godzilla's mighty roar
May 7, 2014

Capturing Godzilla's mighty roar

LOS ANGELES — Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, the E2 ( sound design team that contributed to the new Godzilla film, used Sanken’s CO-100K microphone to help create the roar of the legendary monster, as well as for an array of sci-fi sounds.  

The Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. release is a reboot of the film franchise and shows Godzilla reemerging in contemporary times and reaking havoc on Tokyo and the United States. The film debuts on May 16th and tries to stay true to the original Toho series of Godzilla films. British filmmaker Gareth Edwards directed the project, which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins.

"The Sanken microphone is a window into a whole invisible world of frequencies that are beyond our human capacity of hearing," explains Erik Aadahl. "The mic captures an incredible world of sound that we can then bring into our software, slow it down, pulling all of those high frequencies into the audible realm."

Godzilla's original roar from the 1954 Toho film was created using a double bass and a leather glove with pine tar rosin to create friction, Aadahl explains. "Using the Sanken 100K mic, we recorded the friction of a glove going across the strings to reproduce that iconic Godzilla roar, probably the most famous sound effect in cinema history. The Sanken was one pretty incredible tool for being able to create sounds that one could never hear."

With a 20Hz-100kHz range, the CO-100K omni-directional condenser mic is one of the first 100kHz microphones designed specifically for professional recording and not test purposes. The information contained above the standard frequency range can be captured and reproduced using sample rate and pitch techniques. 

E2 used numerous everyday sounds in creating the soundtrack. "Dry ice was a big player for us," explains Aadahl. “We used a big block of dry ice, resonating against a six foot cylinder of metal ventilation tubing." 

Aadahl and Van der Ryn also recorded sounds on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. "That was an incredible experience," recalls Aadahl. "Just living a few days on an aircraft carrier informs you so much about what life is like on a ship, what the real world sounds are."

Pictured in their studio at Warner Bros. are sound designers (L-R) Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl.  On the monitor, Aadahl holds the mic on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan. Photo by David Goggin.

Van der Ryn adds, "Key to our philosophy is recording new sounds to design with. Using this palate of fresh ingredients, we strive to make a wholly unique and expressive sonic story-telling experience. The only way you can accomplish that is to truly keep your ears open."

Van der Ryn and Aadahl are responsible for the sound design and sound editing of the Transformers and Kung Fu Panda films. Other credits include the Lord of the Ring series and The Tree of Life. Together they have garnered seven Oscar nominations and two wins.