“They were born out of the elements – from the earth, from the wind – so we always tried to start with natural sounds and build them through that,” says ‘The Wheel of Time’ supervising sound editor. Matt Skelding on the process of creating the sounds of magic for the epic fantasy drama series. We spoke to Skelding as part of our “Meet the Experts” panel of sound editors and TV mixers. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Based on the classic fantasy novel series by Robert Jordan“The Wheel of Time” tells the story of Moiraine (Rosamund pike), a powerful wielder of the One Power who seeks out a group of young men and women, whom she believes to be the reincarnation of the Dragon, who is prophesied to save the world or end it. Because Skelding wanted to bring a feminine quality to Moiraine’s abilities, he brought a “vocal component” to magic with a chorus, requiring the composer’s collaboration Lorne Balfe. Ultimately, it was a group effort to put together the music and descriptions for the book, “and the sound designers ran with it.”
This new fantasy world also introduces creatures like the brutal Trollocs and the smarter but equally sinister Fade. “From the beginning of the process, we were doing R&D for Rafe [Judkins]the showrunner and various executives, and so we got their feedback early on, “and what they decided was that the creatures ‘must be grounded in reality,’ so ‘there are a lot of animals – pigs, stags, donkeys – in Trollocs” with “a lot of human elements mixed in”.
Despite these more conspicuous elements in the sound design, “there was a huge amount in the ambient sounds. For me, I’m more proud of that than the work of the creature… We really wanted to wrap the audience in that world. But this vibe, while “unique and otherworldly”, “also had to be grounded in a real world of animals and experiences”. They researched animal sounds, “finding the most unusual ones and maybe giving them a slight twist, presenting them or just isolating them from recordings of real locations around the world, and then using those moods to tell the story as they go.” and as the characters travel that journey throughout the series.
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