Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Birding Game of Thrones

Wanted to make sure you all saw my recent post on birds seen and heard (mostly heard) in Game of Thrones. It was a lot of fun to write, especially because I was able to connect with the show's Supervising Sound Editor, Tim Kimmel.

As a cursed soul who spends more time than maybe anyone else thinking and getting upset over birds singing in the background of TV and movies (see Birds at Large), hearing from Kimmel about his process on the show was a revelation. 

A lot more effort and thinking goes into the background birds in Game of Thrones than it may seem. With so few people paying attention to those noises, it was easy for me to think that their inclusion and selection was a real afterthought for the production team. It certainly seems that way for other show and movies. Game of Thrones has always been different -- even though it's set in a fantasy world the birds are pretty good fits for the scenes: night birds singing at night, prairie birds singing in prairie habitat etc. 

Those things don't happen by accident, of course. Kimmel told me that he sits down with the show's producers and thinks about the setting and mood of a scene, and then finds background noise to match or enhance it. He'll do research on what birds should be where. When there isn't a noise that the producers feel fits, Kimmel will sometimes digitally alter sounds to create new bird songs. (That bit was amazing to me, and made be feel better about all the bird songs I couldn't recognize!) 

I enjoyed writing this piece, and have of course enjoyed watching Game of Thrones. It's set to end this weekend, but hopefully Tim Kimmel will move on to grace other productions with his birds!


Unknown said...

It was interesting to hear how they select bird sounds. Definitely more thought and energy put into it than you may think. I am a birder and always hear incorrect birds in movies - like house wrens singing in the background of the Odyssey, set in Greece of course. Not sure if this is the right place for this, but couldn't help noticing an interesting bird at 33:11 in Season 2 - Episode 5 - Ghost of Harrenhal - sounds like a melodious blackbird to me (a central american species) - any thoughts?

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