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How To Sound Like a Pterodactyl

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 12, 2014

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Cearadactylus model from the Cretaceous Period in a Dinosaur ParkAre you a fan of trying new things with your voice?

At VO Atlanta 2014 during Bob Bergen's keynote, attendees learned how to create a number of interesting animal sounds including how to bark like a dog, sounding like a parrot and screeching like a pterodactyl.

If you've never heard a couple hundred voice actors creating those sounds, boy are you missing out!

One voice artist in particular stood out for his pterodactyl voice and has graciously shared with us how he developed the sound.

Hear about Rodney Higgins' creative process in today's VOX Daily!

Interview with Rodney Higgins

Rodney HigginsVOX: How do you prepare to make a pterodactyl sound? What sort of physical things do you need to do to find the space in your head?

RODNEY HIGGINS: I'd have to say the pterodactyl sounds I made were pretty well led in to by the dog barks that Bob had us all doing a bit earlier. I guess I don't really need to do any physical things to get to that space in my head; I'm usually right on the cusp of outrageous sounds and noises most of the time. My wife will attest to the crazy sounds, noises and carrying on emanating from me in the shower each morning.

VOX: Did you know how to do this before Bob Bergen taught everyone at VO Atlanta 2014? If so, why did you know how? Have you needed to access that part of your voice in the past?

RH: I admit I've been doing the "intake-vocalizing" technique for a really long time. When Bob began to demonstrate it for getting good dog barking, I was right there with him. That's because when I first got my dog, I noticed that he really responded immediately by cocking his head or barking back, when I did a "intake-vocalized" bark as opposed to the typical dog-barking. Yeah, I have conversations with my dog. But even long before that, I've come up with wide ranges of odd and wild character voices based on intake vocalizing. I hope I'm not doing major damage to my vocal chords by doing them...

VOX: What does a pterodactyl sound like (so far as you can tell)?

RH: Seems like most of us think of them as sounding pretty high-pitched screeching, which is I guess how they've been presented to us in various media over the decades. Seems like I remember the pterodactyls in the original King Kong movie having that type of sound. Still, considering they were gigantic flying lizards, maybe they would have had hissing sounds or something more guttural. What I did with Bob's direction during his VO Atlanta 2014 keynote was a really loud, manic, frightening frenzy of high-pitched screeching using that intake vocalizing. Bob had spurred me on to be a Mama pterodactyl who was defending her young from attack, but who knows where it would go if he'd suggested a pterodactyl loving on her young, or fleeing the dinosaur police?

VOX: Do you have a pterodactyl voice sample you could share with us?

RH: There's a short demo on my Voices.com profile that you can listen to. I've called it a Creature Sound Sample. Pterodactyls may well have sounded like this.

VOX: What kind of proximity to the mic do you need to have when doing something like this? How far should you stand back?

RH: Gotta get away from the mic for this, as it's typically very loud. Probably at least a couple of feet, or even facing away from the mic.

Are You A Fan Of Winged Prehistoric Creatures?

If you're planning a visit to New York City in the next year, and you're also a fan of winged prehistoric creatures in dinosaur times, you'll want to check out the Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit, which opened a week ago (April 5th, 2014) will be on display until January 4th, 2015.

The pterosaur pictured at the top of the article is not a pterodactyl but happens to be a Cearadactylus. According to Wikipedia, Cearadactylus is a genus of large Early Cretaceous pterosaurs from South America. The only known species is Cearadactylus atrox, described and named in 1985 by Giuseppe Leonardi and Guido Borgomanero.

What's Your Favorite Pterosaur or Dinosaur?

Generally speaking, I'm sure you have a favourite dino or prehistoric creature. What is it?

Be sure to comment with your pick!

Take care,


Related Topics: American Museum of Natural History, Bob Bergen, Dinosaurs, Pterodactyl, Pterosaurs, Rodney Higgins, VO Atlanta 2014, Voice Acting


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