If you watched the last episode of Game of Thrones, you heard animals recorded by the Song Meter SM4.
What does a dragon sound like?
In the touching scene following Daenarys’ death in the Game of Thrones series finale, Drogon makes a number of sounds including sniffs, shakes, and whimpers.
That high pitched whimper was actually sound designer Paula Fairfield’s dog. Though her goal is often to combine multiple animal sounds in a way that is indistinguishable to the human ear, she wanted this one to be familiar enough that viewers could immediately recognize the emotions behind it.
As for the dragon's sniffs and shakes, those were recorded with a Song Meter SM4 that has been residing inside a hibernating bear’s den.
Paula had placed the SM4 in the den with two orphaned grizzly bear cubs. This allowed her to closely capture even the slightest noises they made in the den, a number of which have been used to craft the dragon sounds on the show.
Building Awareness for Conservation
Now that Game of Thrones has come to a close, Paula has been busy talking about her work in interviews. She is frequently asked about the dragon sounds she makes, and through it, she is “happy to bring awareness to conservation”
In order to capture some of those animal sounds, she worked with conservation centers like White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, which houses several endangered and threathened species. Animals like their sandhill cranes are yet another component to the dragon vocalizations you hear on the show.
“Everybody loves the dragons, but theses are all living animals' sounds--over 30 different kinds of them. I want people to think about these as real animal voices that are disappearing”
On choosing the SM4
When asked why she chose Wildlife Acoustics recorders, she says “I realized early on that recording animals works best when humans aren’t around and I had been watching the Song Meters for a while. I was also looking for durability and a high sample rate.
I love the [Song Meter SM4] recorder. I bought one a year ago and I’m probably going to buy another one soon. Your recorders have become quite an interesting tool for me to use, and I’ve been having a lot of fun using them”
Another item Paula praised? The armor accessory. “The SM4 is being mauled by bears on a regular basis, and though the mic foam is constantly being gnawed on and torn off, the recorder is still working.”
Paula is already busy with new projects and will continue using the Song Meter in the future, possibly creating an "immersive experience with wildlife sounds", as she continues to spread the message of conserving the diversity of sounds in our ecosystems.