After the original Godzilla was released in 1954, the movie’s monster became an icon—right down to its memorable roar. Back then, filmmakers had to rely on low-tech ways to give their creature a voice. This May, a remake of Godzilla hit theaters. Once again, sound engineers had to work out how to give the starring character a truly unique shriek. Luckily, this time they had technology on their side.
THE RIGHT SOUND
To create the original Godzilla’s roar, the movie crew first tried using recordings of animal sounds. But none seemed like the right fit for the enormous city-stomping monster.
The team next turned to musical instruments, but none was quite right. Then they coated a leather glove in a waxy substance called resin. They rubbed the glove along the strings of an upright bass, creating friction. That produced the perfect Godzilla rumble.
A NEW ROAR
For the new film, sound effects duo Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl sampled lots of different sounds. They ranged from the creaking of a rusty car door to an audience’s screams at a rock concert.
The team even used supersensitive microphones to record noises that had frequencies—the speeds at which sound waves vibrate—beyond what humans can hear. They then lowered the noises’ pitches, using equipment in their studio, to create eerie, never-before-heard sounds.
Van der Ryn and Aadahl are keeping the precise details of how they created Godzilla’s roar top secret. “If we tell everybody exactly how we did it, people will think of that when they hear the roar, and we want them to think of Godzilla,” Aadahl told National Public Radio.