Star Wars is lauded for its visual effects, but the films’ sound design is just as good if not better. What would a light saber be without its ominous hum in the air? How scary would Darth Vader really be without his strange, mechanical breath? How to create R2-D2?
These sounds were created, not from libraries, but by sound designer Ben Burtt, who has worked on all of the Star Wars films since the original, along with the Indiana Jones series, Wall-E, and the Star Trek reboot.
Burtt gathered his own vocalizations, fed through a synth, to create his most challenging character. But before that, he produced an entire, true robot voice for R2-D2. That voice must live on audio reels somewhere.
Burtt said that he would come up with equivalent lines in English for what R2-D2 would be ’saying’ and twiddle the filter and other knobs of a synth whilst reading the lines out loud, to try and articulate the words using the synth.
Burtt used the sounds of an ARP 2600 synthesizer and his own voice to produce R2-D2’s silicon salvos. The ARP in question was recreated virtually via Symbolic Sound’s lofty Kyma system for more recent Star Wars movies.
The voice is a powerfull effect for sound design
His primary challenge was to maintain the soul of a human being while creating a believable, synthesized sound that appropriately matched the characters’ robotic form and features.
A good example of creating a voice for a non-human character is evident in Disney’s film, “Dumbo” (1941), wherein producers used a Sonavox (an artificial larynx) to make a train “speak” with human-like qualities to achieve a desired result.
Today, the Vocoder, a digital tool, is used to create a similar yet more sophisticated effect to alter the voice, even modulate pitch.
The Vocoder was used in Wall-E to change the vocal qualities of voice actress Elissa Knight, who performed the voice of Wall-E’s love interest, Eve.
The voice of Wall-E was first performed by Ben Burtt and then manipulated with a digital pen that acted like a joystick, modulating the sound even further.
#wecando MAKING OF
I want to show you how to create effects in dialogues Put you inside the scene, help the story.
Here are two scenes in the film ” Chatô , the King of Brazil . We see that the main character is having some hallucinations, and some medical problems.
How to help to tell this with the sound?
To help this we create this effect we use a delay with different feedbacks and modulations, just to help tell the story of a health problem to get a confused voices, like we are in the character head.
We use the delay of Eventide H3000 with automation sent to emphasize the effect especially at the end of the voices phrases!
In the second video , the main character is in a hospital bed , we can not see the character, but we realize that with sound.
This effect is create dimension and depth , we feel within the scene , inside the character . Use one main plugin: a flanger with a slow oscillation – the flanger is an effect that uses two sound sources with equal delays , creating what is called comb filter , where there are peaks of sounds, and cuts where the sound is canceled ! It has the same effect used in voice of Darth Vader.
In this example , we created a spatiality and a larger image of the voices use EQ and harmonizer ( effects using pitch shifts ) .