Some talk more than others, but I bet you’d recognize your horse’s whinny anywhere.

It was important that Joey and Topthorn, the horses in Spielberg’s new movie “War Horse,” had their own voices as well.

That’s the job of the sound man, as Melena Ryzik reported in the Awards Season Blog of The New York Times.  Sound designer Gary Rydstrom shared some of his trade secrets:

“Our first instinct as a sound man is, if I just take a walrus and an otter, and speed them up, it’ll make a great Joey vocal!  Spielberg tried to warn against that.  He wanted the horses to sound like horses.  We recorded many, many horses to find the voice for Joey.

My favorite was the miniature horses.  They sound different, they have a different emotional range — they’re a little closer to dogs.

We have to make a library of different horse goals and start categorizing them into different emotions.  We had to record horses in veterinary hospitals that were sick or coming out of anesthesia.

My wife has a horse, her horse makes this weird teeth grind, we used it all through the movie.  I use it as a tender, friendly sound between Joey and Albert…it was the most difficult thing to do, to make the horses believable and have character.”

He also shares his secrets for sounds of horse stampedes, tanks and bullets whizzing by, among other things, here.

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