A couple of months ago I had the honour of mixing the 2016 version of "The Jungle Book" in to the Hebrew language, at Disney's International Sound department at Shepperton Studios.
The attention to detail that goes in to every language version of Disney releases is incredible. They go to massive effort to ensure that the viewing and listening experience is the same the world over. This of course also applies to the voice treatments used.
On the Hebrew version, I had four tracks of voice available for every line that Shere Khan spoke. There was the original recording, then three layers of treated voice, the fourth layer being a "growl" track. Our job was to adjust the balance of those four tracks, which was variable during every line, to match the original English language version as closely as possible.
At the time I marvelled at how they'd achieved this voice treatment, and it was only two months later that I discovered that they had used the Dehumaniser plugin by Krotos Audio.
So what is the Dehumaniser II? Krotos describe it as a Modular Node Based Creature Sound Design System. I couldn't have put it better myself!
The plugin has nine processing nodes....
- Pitch Shifter
- Delay Pitch Shifting
- Noise Generator
- Scrubbing Convolution
- Flanger / Chorus
- Ring Modulation
- Spectral Shifting
- Sample Trigger
You can have up to two instances of any of these nodes in any preset, giving you a possible 18 instances. The input can be split eight ways, with independently adjustable gain.
These can be routed in serial or parallel, and can have up to five outputs each with independently variable output gain.
Node inputs are not exclusive and can be fed by more than one node output.
Below the nodes display, when you click on a node it displays the detailed controls. In the picture above I have clicked on the input, and it is showing me the output gains of all the nodes. Each node has a solo, mute and bypass button as well.
These are the controls for the Scrubbing Convolution Node. On the input every node has a gate, and on the output every node has an EQ and Limiter. You can really absolutely tailor the sound you want from each node, in great detail. On nodes such as the scrubbing convolution or the sample trigger, they have included a library of 100 animal recordings for you to base your creations on. These built-in samples can be easily augmented with your own.
It's so powerful and flexible that you almost don't know where to begin.
So I did what everyone else does - I played with the presets. This is actually an awful lot of fun, and can give you a lot of inspiration
While having a good browse through the presets, I found my attention turning more to the sample trigger node.
Who could resist triggering an aggressive otter moan?
So I had a good play with the presets using one of the Pro Tools Expert podcasts I mixed. Take a look at this video to hear the results.
Dehumaniser II is not just a post production tool - it can be used to good effect in acquisition.
Often when recording dialogue for use in games or live action, it is useful for the voice artist to be able to hear how their voice is going to be treated. It changes their performance once they know how they are going to sound. It's why the ring modulator effect on the Dalek voices on Doctor Who is actually recorded on set.
On a decent powered system, Dehumaniser II has low enough latency to be able to give the voice artist foldback in their headphones or in-ear monitoring, and can really transform how well the dehumanising effect works.
Dehumaniser II is a very powerful tool to have as a sound designer.
Being able to run it live as well as in Audiosuite is a big bonus, as it allows you to dynamically tailor the effect - what works well on some dialogue might not be as good on other lines. This is a particular benefit when it comes to reversioning in to different languages as you can maintain legibility but still keep a consistent effect.
The user interface is clear, keeps you aware of the processes going on and behaves in a logical fashion.
If you're doing a lot of game audio, working on Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Animation or even Comedy material, this would be £449 well spent.