Face Off 1003
Hey all! The episode of Face Off I guest-judged for aired yesterday. In it I created six different sketches and created a sentence in each one. I then recorded these sentences to .mp3, and we gave them to the models trying out for the episode. Of those that tried out, the six best were chosen, and then each one chose a track that would become their language. They then practiced with it and recorded it in a studio, and that’s the track you heard on the show. Even better: They had to keep practicing the lines so that they could say them live during the reveal.
I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed by the models’ performances, because I didn’t make the samples easy. This was Face Off, after all. They had to be pretty wild.
Below is each sample used on the show. I designed each of these with a specific goal in mind. I wanted to see if the artists would be able to pick up on what I was doing and have it influence their design. In some cases it worked; in others it didn’t. But, don’t take my word for it: Listen for yourself and see what you think!
(Note: These are my .mp3s, not the models’. It’s all in IPA, but syllables, stress, and/or tone are not marked. Periods are just periods.)
SAMPLE 1 (Walter and Rob)
My idea here was to create a language that could be spoken by a creature with no lips or tongue tip. In the sample below you’ll notice that there are no labial consonants, no coronal consonants, and no rounded vowels. (This was half an idea I toyed with for the Liberata when we thought they were going to be all CG.)
ʀaːχeŋ qɑ kaːjaħ kǝ kχɛɢɪŋ qɑi. ŋaʀ kǝ ħɑːʔɪkǝ kǝ gǝŋaʀʀehi. (AUDIO)
SAMPLE 2 (Njoroge and Ant)
This sample was done without using voicing. There are few vowels, and all the vowels are whispered (note that I didn’t bother with the little ring in the IPA. Just know that they’re whispered).
fsːq’ st'k ksː pʃk’. hɛftθː spst khi ʃk’ t'p’t’ tʃif ʃǝħǝ shæh. (AUDIO)
SAMPLE 3 (Johnny and Rob)
This sample had some clicks (underspecified for secondary articulations, because I figured whatever click the model managed to do was fine), tone, and nasal vowels. The model who got this one really got into it. He did a pretty great job.
!aːvuk'uːsipents'iũ ʘene tʃaʔeǁoːke sõ bu!akiː ãdoːsehiaː. (AUDIO)
SAMPLE 4 (Melissa and Katie)
This sample has no vowels. I imagined it might be well suited to a creature that couldn’t open its mouth too widely. (This was the other half of the Liberata idea.)
krː tŋkl m çn strt vlʒn sklːr. krː smpts ldn jl mbrzd tʃm. (AUDIO)
SAMPLE 5 (Yvonne and Anna)
Those who followed my work on Defiance know that I designed Castithan to be spoken very quickly. Those who followed my work more closely will know that a lot of the choices I made totally backfired, making Castithan a pain in the butt to speak quickly. In this sample, I tried to correct those errors, and the results are pretty darn fast.
tanǝɾǝ kaɾi manɛɾǝɾǝ vali gavalǝ jaɾigi bazaɾe vatɛɾomɛ kizonudaɾubɛ. (AUDIO)
SAMPLE 6 (Kaleb and Mel)
This sample is more or less normal, with the caveat being that it alternates between egressive and ingressive airstreams. It was the longest of the samples, and they cut it down a bit when they aired the episode, as you’ll hear.
faːloʃǝn peːnowe ksomuːʒaka meːta kaveːjasox ʃoːkɨn tsu pa kɛʃ. (AUDIO)
I was pleased that everyone tried to incorporate the language sample into their design in some way. I thought the throat bladder thing in Kaleb and Mel’s was really inspired, and I thought the mouth that Njoroge and Ant went with made sense with the voiceless language (would’ve worked for Melissa and Katie’s, too). Some cues were missed, but, of course, this was done backwards. Usually it’s the producers saying, “Here’s this crazy character with a funky jaw/no lips/no vocal folds, etc. Give it a language”, not the other way around. I thought everyone did a pretty awesome job.
Also, it was producer Pooneh Zandazma (with a Valyrian last name if I’ve ever heard one) who asked me to be on the show in the first place, and we worked together to figure out what kind of challenge made sense, so thank you, Pooneh! I think it worked out great.
There is one thing I’m sad about, though. In discussing my appearance (this was last June, remember), Pooneh asked me how I wanted to be introduced. Naturally they were going to start with Game of Thrones, because it’s the biggest show going right now. Considering when the episode was airing, it would’ve been perfect to mention that I’m also working on MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles and the CW’s The 100 (since the two shows literally sandwich Face Off, airing the day before and the day after, respectively). Those were the obvious choices. But seeing as Face Off is on Syfy, and because Syfy has been so good to me over the years (both the network and everyone working on the shows I worked on), I thought it would be great to mention Defiance and Dominion. At the time it aired, I expected to be working on season 4 of Defiance and season 3 of Dominion. Those seasons wouldn’t have aired till much later, of course, but it would’ve been a nice off-season boost, so I told them to say I worked on Game of Thrones, Defiance, and Dominion. Of course, fans of those latter two shows know what happened. And it makes me feel like a real jerk for not mentioning The 100 and The Shannara Chronicles. It would’ve been a great promotion for two shows that have also been very good to me right when they could most benefit from it. Instead I had them promote two shows that have been canceled—which also makes it look like I haven’t got as much going on now to those who’d never heard of me or conlanging beforehand. That’s how things go sometimes, though. :(
Overall, lots of fun. The glare and the sunburn from the first day was worth it. :)