How To Sound Like a Pterodactyl

So you want to know how to sound like a pterodactyl, do you? 

The guttural screeching you associate with the winged dinosaur species, thanks to their many appearances in entertainment, creates a curiosity in people—especially voice actors involved in character work: “Can I do that?” 

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That’s what you’ll find out here in this post!

How to make the quintessential pterodactyl sound, how to do it without hurting your voice, if the skill is in high demand, and more. 

Let’s get started.

How to Make a Pterodactyl Sound

First, it’s key to let you know that the sounds you hear in Jurassic Park are a medley of many things, none of which are the human voice!

From styrofoam, to hippos, dental drills, penguins, pigs, tiny dogs, big cats, and more, the sound designers of Jurassic Park shared how they crafted each creature’s sound:

That doesn’t stop us drama-types from wanting to try our hand—or voice—at creating the sound ourselves, though. The most common way to create this type of creature sound is to inhale while creating sound. This technique is actually called ingressive phonation! 

Ingressive Phonation

Can you gasp? Congratulations, you’ve just performed an ingressive phonation! 

This technique is more intended for singing or beatboxing purposes and comes with its own set of skills and care practices. But it’s still at the foundation of how we as voice actors can achieve the creature-like sounds of the pterodactyl.

You can achieve the screeching sound by experimenting with ingressive phonation. Who knows? There may be an upcoming video game or animation series that wants to hire for pterodactyl or other creature sounds just in time for you to put your newly found ingressive phonation skills to work!

Take Great Care When Performing Ingressive Phonation for your Pterodactyl Voice Over Work

It sounds cool, that’s for sure! But it also puts great strain on the vocal folds without training and practice. Here are two interesting resources to help you explore this technique on the low-end and high-end ranges of your voices.

As character voice actors have recommended in the past, there are a number of other things you can do to protect your voice when you’re creating pterodactyl or other creature sounds for demos, auditions, and other performances:

  1. Drink a ton of water all throughout the day, not just during your session. At a bare minimum, drink at least a few cups an hour before your pterodactyl soundalike session.
  2. Do your warmups! Use the resources linked above specifically for ingressive phonation.
  3. Schedule your creature sessions at the end of your day. That way, you can take the many hours of rest your vocal folds will need afterward. 

Check out more vocal care tips and considerations here

The Demand for Pterodactyl and Other Creature Voice Overs

While the makers of Jurassic Park leaned into foley sound design and the use of animal noises, there are video game producers and animation series creators sourcing voice actors for these types of roles more and more these days. 

In our 2022 State of Voice Over Report, it was discovered that video games voice over is actually one of the largest growing categories of work! Cut scenes and in-game action sound effects are offering voice actors all sorts of opportunities to put their ingressive phonation skills to work—for the right compensation and at the right pace to make a voice actor’s wellbeing a priority, of course!

Want to Hear a Voice Over Pterodactyl Demo?

Voice actor Rodney Higgins has featured his pterodactyl impression in his Creature Sound Sample demo. Head over to his profile to hear it for yourself. 

Let us know in the comments below if you’re sold on the idea of ingressive phonation, and if you see yourself booking creature VO work in the future!

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