The magical thing about animation is its ability to tell a story using visuals and that can’t be captured in reality. Character poses and facial expressions are pushed beyond human boundaries to more clearly show you, rather than tell you, what emotions a character is feeling. In 2019, Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: Clone Wars) used this principle to innovate the storytelling power of animation, with Primal.
Primal is a 5-episode, hand-drawn, animated mini-series about a prehistoric man that encounters a dinosaur due to unfortunate circumstances. In the entire two and a half hour runtime, there is no dialogue. Character names are merely nicknames given to them by Genndy and the episode titles. An entire series of animation without dialogue not only means that the visual team has to draw and paint thousands of portraits and landscapes, but also that sound moves to the forefront, since it’s the only thing to connect the visuals into a story.
In settings varying from lush jungle landscapes to frozen tundras to barren deserts, each episode posed its own unique landscape challenge. There had to be foley for multiple prehistoric beasts and sound design for their roars.
And then there’s all the action. Each episode is a slow crescendo to the climax, both visually and aurally. Sound design had to make great use of silence in the beginning, before adding drones, and eventually risers to big hits. A show about basic survival in prehistoric times is as brutal as it sounds, and it has the sounds to match.
All of this work led to great critical acclaim and success, with the show winning three Outstanding Individual Achievement awards at the Emmys. Primal was renewed for a “second half of the first season” and for a whole second season. We can’t wait to see what this incredibly moving animation will continue to offer.
In the meantime, let’s take advantage of this amazing series by giving it our own sound design. Download the session for add.app artist Jared Otto’s sound pass below to tweak it and make it your own in Audio Design Desk!
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