Strange as it may seem, voice actors were hired to provide animal sounds in The Sims 3: Pets. The man-made noises were combined with real animal noises to give the pets their very own sound. Makes sense to me…
A short Q & A from Thomas Day, Audio Artist, that may provide some answers:
1. Why did the team decide not to use all real animal sounds?
It would be very difficult for real animals to bring the necessary emotional content that a human actor can. A great example of this is asking yourself: how do you get a horse, dog or even a cat into a recording booth and then direct it to be happy, sad, mad, or affectionate? Human actors can bring the emotional range that would be difficult to get out of a live animal or cut from a sound effects library. That’s why we choose to put the two together.
2. Why did they splice in real animals sounds with actors?
Actual animals were composited with the actor’s voice to add depth and realism the pet experience. For example a 1,000lb horse is capable of making sounds that are impossible for a 180lb human to make. It’s a matter of physicality — a horse’s long neck and chest girth produces tones that are unique to its body make up. By taking these unique horse tones and mixing them with the emotional content of human actors give us a multifaceted voice composite that has the best of both worlds — emotional content from the human actor and unique realism of the actual animal. Additionally, the actor’s voice goes through an effects processing pass before the final composite is made. This treatment allows the human and animal voice to mesh more naturally.
3. Is this the first time in the franchise’s story that this form of animal simlish/animal sounds was used?
No, the first time this type of sound was experimented with was in SimAnimals Africa. It was used on the elephant, lion and rhinoceros.
4. What was used for the animal’s voice in The Sims Unleashed and The Sims 2 Pets?
We used just human actors in The Sims 2 Pets and The Sims Unleashed. For The Sims 3 Pets we want to present our players with a richer more realistic sonic experience. The voice compositing is only one aspect of that enrichment. Everything from pet locomotion to animal ambience has been enhanced.
A video is on the way!