Original Score, Live Sound Recording and Sound Design by Radium Audio

Director John Sunter from Sky Creative asks Radium to craft Leo’s brand new voice for the latest MGM ident, and what better way to do justice to the most iconic animal onscreen since 1916 than to fly to South Africa to capture the real voices of his faraway cousins!

See below for

  • Indepth Narrative
  • Listen to the Drakenstein Sanctuary Lions Live
  • Photo gallery

Twelve hours later we land in Capetown and head north through Stellenbosch to the Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary, a place of safety where lions rescued from sad existences in many parts of the world are able to live out their lives free from abuse and amongst their own kind.

Camped out in an enclosure encircled by lions, separated from us only by a 2.5 metre high chickenwire electric fence, we see dark falling and the big cats rouse from their daylight torpor to prowl and stalk through the deepening night… director chairs and mike stands at the ready we sit and wait … and wait … and wait …

Big cats play games just like their smaller household cousins – lions don’t just roar on demand. Bad-Boy and Shy-Boy, only 2 metres from our tent, amuse themselves at our expense by remaining utterly silent, loitering nearby with the occasional menacing glare until we give up and retire to the tent for some sleep. Then we hear not just roaring but a kind of unearthly prehistoric keening … a song they sing to each other, one by one, multiplying and echoing throughout the entire reserve … a choral symphony of 35 lions in full voice under the African starry night sky, which of course ceases as soon as we run back outside to turn the mikes on! We spend the entire night fitfully dozing, fully clothed and shoe’d, in and out of the tent like bedraggled jack-in-the-boxes, much, we suspect, to Bad-Boy’s and Shy-Boy’s quiet satisfaction.

Nonetheless we manage to record the feline soundscape eventually, and the final piece of the project falls into place on our last day when we unwittingly stand directly between Bad-Boy and the object of his unrequited affection, feline femme Simba in the opposite enclosure. Bad-Boy is far from happy, and the roar literally shakes the ground underneath us … now we have Leo’s new voice…

We are grateful to Paul, Elzette and Jacques at the Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary for making us so welcome and, of course, to all the lions, especially Bad-Boy and Shy-Boy, whom Radium have sponsored for life as a thank-you for all their help in the making of the new MGM ident.

Listen to the Drakenstein Sanctuary Lions here:

  • Filming Leo back in 1924 Filming Leo back in 1924
  • Out front at the Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary Stellenbosch Out front at the Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary Stellenbosch
  • Andrew filming the lions Andrew filming the lions
  • Shy-Boy's lazing in the sun ... Bad Boy's thinking about lunch .. Shy-Boy's lazing in the sun ... Bad Boy's thinking about lunch ..
  • Radium sponsored Badboy & Shyboy as a thankyou for their contribution Radium sponsored Badboy & Shyboy as a thankyou for their contribution
  • The King of the Jungle Roars The King of the Jungle Roars
  • Formidable! Formidable!
  • Radium tent - surrounded by lion enclosures on all 4 sides with a narrow fenced off entryway Radium tent - surrounded by lion enclosures on all 4 sides with a narrow fenced off entryway
  • Pete waits Pete waits
  • Pete follows a lunching lion Pete follows a lunching lion
  • Having spotted these lions stalking us in our peripheral vision ... we turn around to face them and find they're immediately otherwise occupied ...  and of course innocent of any sinister activity whatsoever Having spotted these lions stalking us in our peripheral vision ... we turn around to face them and find they're immediately otherwise occupied ... and of course innocent of any sinister activity whatsoever
  • Face to face with BadBoy - thanks to the invention of the zoom lense Face to face with BadBoy - thanks to the invention of the zoom lense
  • Andrew outside our tent with the mikes ... waiting for Bad-Boy and Shy-Boy to roar... while the big cats watch us in deliberate silence Andrew outside our tent with the mikes ... waiting for Bad-Boy and Shy-Boy to roar... while the big cats watch us in deliberate silence
  • Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary ... view out over the grounds Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary ... view out over the grounds

© 2016 Radium Audio Ltd.