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How to design a new language?

Ata Pinto:
Would it be possible for any of you to enlighten me in the process you
guys go through when there's a need for a "new" language for...let's say... an alien character in a film.  Burtt said on some articles that he rearranged
(edited) tibetan and other languages for some of the aliens in Star Wars.  Now, how can this be done when you need to keep the intensity of the scene? I mean if you just cut and paste you might just get a very dull acting. Do you also solve this by telling an actor to improvise with his voice and language structure in the ADR stage?

Paulo Mendes:  Sound editor, SIC Television, Portugal
Ata PintoI did some alien voices already, using Eventide harmonizes, and found that best performances from the actors are achieved if their are listening to the processed sound instead of the dry feed, this way they can tweak words in order to avoid some of the artifacts these devices may introduce, thus improving speech intelligibility specially when using dramatic voice transformation always record a clean feed of the actors voice as well, just in case...

Chris Borders: Interplay Productions Voice Over Director
I recently had a interactive project that I had to get alien voices for. First off if you use good voice over talent, (ones who can get past the cartoony sounding stuff) you will find these actors to be very helpful in creating unique voices that you or I may never think of.  After getting the base for what you want, you will find sweeting it with sound processors, etc. will add other elements to make it sound even more alien.

Kevin Powell:
Creating great alien or creature vocalizations is, in my opinion, the most
difficult kind of sound fabrication there is. If you perform the vocalizations,
it will help if you're the only one in the studio, or even the building...
Well, at least my performances are much better then...

Randy Thom:
As Kevin says, there is no formula for this kind of process.  What you do is to experiment.  If you begin with an "exotic" human language as a base, then obviously the more diverse your samples are the more likely you will be successful.  If you want to create a language with lots of moods, then your Tibetan (or whatever) samples need to have those moods. You alter the speed and pitch of your samples. You play them backwards.
You edit them.  You combine them with, as Kevin says, animal vocal sand anything else you can think of. (Finding snippets of animal vocals which will blend with human samples is also very much a trial and error process.) Creating great alien or creature vocalizations is, in my opinion, the most difficult kind of sound fabrication there is.

Would it be possible for any of you to enlighten me in the process
you guys go through when there's a need for a "new" language. There is no formula. I did some vocalizations for different creatures. Just imagine what your responses will be if you're interacting vocally and you will come up with different vocabularies. For example a happy vocabulary, sad vocabulary, angry vocabulary, questioning vocabulary, etc. If the creature is an alien, maybe you could process (your) voice electronically. If it is an animal, you could sweeten the fx with real animals

Ata Pinto:
When you say that you could sweeten animal sounds with vocalizations, how do you accomplish it without them sounding overlayed, but sounding like one.  Do you use a special filter?

Jay Jennings:
I'd like to chime in regarding your question of 'overlaying' animal vocals and using 'special filters'. Many animals produce vocalizations that sound remarkably human, so they will lay in quite nicely without too much
processing. For authentic samples, look to Hollywood Edge's "Animal Trax" series - very well recorded and interesting sounds. Also, if you are a ProTools user, check out some software called VocAlign. Originally developed for ADR editors (I think), it takes two sound files and, using one as the master clip, matches the envelope and energy curves of the slave clip. I saw a demo of it where two lines of dialogue, which were clearly different in enunciation and pitch, were matched together and it sounded incredible. You would have great results if you took a line of your newly-edited exotic human language and matched a baboon vocalization to it, for example. The energy curves would be identical, but the pitches and inflections would remain intact.VocAlign is sort
of hard to really need to see it to understand what it does. If you're interested, I'll dig up some literature for you, or you can try
searching the Web for it. Happy editing

Edited excerpts from CAS Archive   
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