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#wecando TOPCASES

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?

 These sounds were created, not from stock 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.

A day after the release of the trailer for The Force Awakens, I discovered a vintage interview with Burtt hosted by the Star Wars channel on YouTube. I was shocked that it didn’t have millions of views, as it’s a must-watch to even the most casual of Star Wars fan. Through the course of a few short clips, Burtt talks about audio design at the highest level—how he had to source, blend, and synthesize characters and sounds that didn’t exist.

For Chewbacca’s voice, Burtt chased around animals—mostly bears—for a year before building the right source library of growls, grunts, and even audible pain.

Ben Burtt Interview  Chewbacca's Voice

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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…

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Imperial Walkers

These walkers were made using small, stop motion animation models, so it was up to Burtt to add an audible mass to the vehicles. To create the sound of a stomp, Burtt turned to a metal stamping/shearing machine. And for the squeaky joints, he sourced sounds from the door of a dumpster that had been dropped at his house.

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#wecando MAKING OF

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Test First Name this a issue of Pro tools experts by Mike Thornton.

In this free video Pro Tools user Marcelo Cyro reveals some of his sound design tricks in the soundtrack of the Oscar nominated animation – The Boy And The World. Watch as he shows how he created some specific machine related effects. In the first video in this article, he unpacks the train and in the second video he looks at a big scary machine.

Recently Pro Tools Expert interviewed Marcelo about how he and the team of 4 produced the soundtrack for this oscar nominated film that is up against blockbusters like Inside Out and the Shaun The Sheep Movie.

As part of a series Marcelo is unpacking and revealing some of the techniques the team used to create the soundtrack in Pro Tools. Over to you Marcelo…

Some effects of this movie are created to be the boy’s perspective especially for emotional proposes. Today I am going to show you two related effects – one is a train and the other is a huge and scary machine.

I the story this is the train that the boy’s father takes and leave his family behind this train, the ambience was created to to help the story to give more emotion, you can hear that the bugs give us the sensation of that something will happen.

The train is made up of a number of layers…

  • Some whistles playing some short notes
  • Together with some real train effects
  • Some metal shaking helps to give some movement
  • Some musical instruments like didgeridoo with long notes give us a speed of this train.
  • Horns with delays
  • Some very thin metal impact complement this train sound.

The sound effects can make a scene interesting, but they usually need a little help from the visual end of things. We need for sound to make a story contribution.
In this scene is very important to portray the emotion feelings as it is one of the most important scenes of the movie, because it is this train takes the boy’s father away and so sets the scene for the movie as the boy goes off in search of his father. 


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The second effect that we will talk today is a big machine exactly the opposite of the first one! This is a “scary” sound. You can hear the difference between this and the train, It is a really “larger than life” machine. We create this sensation with just sound, as the image you see is something like a chimney with some steam, you don’t see anything else, and so we create that this machine looks like with sound and the sound helps to imagine the size and how scary the machine might be.

This sound was created to make an emotional feeling and a fear for the boy, It is a weird machine, but again the most important issue here is the emotion that the sound gives. Let’s see how it was created, and unpack the different layers that go to make up the complete sound…..

  • Wind made by month that gives a movement to the clouds
  • A flute with some reverb that give us the whistle and the steam
  • More winds with flanger effects to give more depth to the ambience
  • Lots of metal shaking that grow in volume to give us the perspective that the machine is coming closer
  • Metal impacts with a lot of reverb simulating a train – it has this strong impact that give us the sensation of fear and larger than life.
  • – some wired motor was created
  • Impacts that create the movement
  • A loop of a big metal tin with reverb to help the movement
  • A loop of a large metal stretching again to help with the movement
  • A loop of some metal with a different pitch help to give a full frequency range effect
  • Tin impacts with a lot of reverb give us perspective , distance and also some size to the sound
  • Impacts to give more power and veracity to the machine
  • A motor sound with some distortion – give us the sensation of some steam
  • A large metal stretch with some low end accentuation give us the body and a sense of the size of this machine.
  • A very low frequency only to the LFE to give power
  • Musical instruments to make the the steam whistle