Footsteps with talons

Suggestions or even just film references would be welcome here. This is for an audio play, so I don't have to match to picture or any specific look.

I'm working on a sound of... well technically it's footsteps, but the creatures who are walking are sort of humanoid pterosaurs. So what I'm trying to get is footsteps with claws/ talons.

I started off combining barefoot footsteps I'd recorded for an earlier project with fingerpicks (those things that are like plectrums crossed with false nails) on rock to get the sense of weight as well as the clicks. It sort-of works but I can't quite figure out how to make them better.

I thought of trying to get recordings of dog or cat footsteps but they are either less than plentiful in libraries or I've been using the wrong search terms. That could work, but it would need editing because the creatures are walking as bipeds for this particular fiction rather than quadrupeds. The only other thing I thought of was using metal bottle tops, which was mentioned in a special feature on the LOTR
DVDs. I'm a little worried that it might not be quite so effective when we only have 2/3 creatures rather than hundreds.

As I said at the beginning, I'm grateful for any suggestions or film/audio references that might spring to mind.


Jurassic park must be the reference, surely? "there's a raptor in my kitchen, what am I gonna do"!

The major effecting factor is what surface are they walking on? Dirt, leaves, etc, you really wouldn't hear the talon.

On a hard finished surface, then the talon would come into play. Each type of surface will effect the sound.

I've gotten similar sounds by recording my dog's toenails as she across a wood floor. You can isolate the footfall/nail clicks and toss them into a sampler, or a scoring program like Digital Performer, Pro Tools or Live to simulate how a bi-ped walks.

You could also try getting a bird claw from a second hand store or taxidermist, and bringing it into your studio to record on the surface of choice. You could even record your own fingernails, or deploy some press-on nails. Any of these would give you that nice "click" element to process and mix with other footfall sounds.

You might also try a pencil, chopstick, drumstick, a ball point pen.... or hire a really big chicken! Or... record an ostrich at the zoo?

I'm just throwing out some ideas. Some I've tried, some I haven't.

- Heather

Try goat hooves -- they're available from percussion stores.

Google "goat hoof rattle" or "goat hoof shaker" for a gaggle of sources.

Same organic material (keratin) as claws, fingernails, horns, etc.

Cut them off whatever they're attached to, tape to your fingers and thumbs, and Foley away.

Thank you for all the suggestions. In the end we've gone with simply barefeet on stone because we found that when you start introducing all the other elements in an audio-only production it can sound a little confusing.

Still, it gave me an excuse to finally buy Jurassic Park on DVD.

Thread from Sound Design List May 2008