Nothing is more iconic than Star Wars, at least for me, and for many of you reading this. This is either really sad or super awesome (it's super awesome. just keep telling yourself that). Some of the most iconic things about the Star Wars saga are the sound effects. What is so ironic is the fact that sound cannot travel through space. Most people recognize the sound of Chewie's roar, the opening of a lightsaber or the shots from a TIE fighter. These are all familiar sounds to our sweaty nerd ears, and even to people who barely know what Star Wars actually is.
There are very unique ways these sound effects were created. During my research, I found multiple unique ways some of the most iconic Star Wars sounds were made throughout the three (yes, there is a third trilogy now a.k.a. the Sequel Trilogy) trilogies.
Chewbacca's Voice and Roar
Everyone has tried to imitate the famous Chewbacca roar with their friends, and some were more successful than others. Chewbacca's voice and roar is actually a mix of different animal noises. Initially, the composition consisted of mostly sounds from bears, badgers, and lions. However, something was missing. It was sound of a walrus which was heard when a walrus' tank was being emptied. Wow, Chewbacca speaks walrus, who knew? He took pieces from each recording, categorized them by emotion, and cut them together to make the famous Wookie speech we have all grown to love today!
This astromech droid has been famous even before The Force Awakens came out in theaters. It turns out the man behind it all is Bill Hader. Drew McWeeney of Hitfix broke the story as he was apparently the only one to actually read the credits to see Hader's name next to “BB-8 Vocal Consultant.” McWeeney (what a great last name) went to go interview Hader after the screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to see how he came up with the sound for BB-8 and to also get a little insight into what J.J. Abrams was looking for when the search for the droid’s “voice” began. He responded with the simple answer:
“JJ f**king around with this sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by me. It looked ridiculous but it made BB-8’s voice. At first I tried doing a voice, but we all agreed it sounded too human.”
Good thing they didn't use Hader's actual voice for the "voice" of BB-8 because that would have been, a Trainwreck! (;D)
The best source for warmth on Hoth? I'd think so, just ask Luke Skywalker! The tauntaun's weird but gentle grunts actually come from an Asian Sea Otter. Hmm, who knew?
It's pretty hard to mute your volume while playing a good mission of Blast in Star Wars: Battlefront. It takes the iconic blasts we know and love from the movie and brings it to a whole new level. One of the most famous spots of when we heard it was from Episode IV when Han shot Greedo (Han had to have shot first!) Sound designer Ben Burtt played into the creation of a lot of these iconic sounds, but it was his son who merely sparked his father's creativity when he struck a rock against support cables for a radio tower! Burtt said the inspiration happened right away and it sounded like a laser gun, which is exactly what he was looking for.
Fans who didn't like the prequels cannot deny the fact that the pod race was awesome! It is definitely a great sequence and is very action-packed and entertaining. The sound effects of those podracers really enhance the scene to a whole new level. The variety of noises present in the podrace is staggering; they immerse you in the event and make you wish the rest of The Phantom Menace was like it. The sounds of the engines throughout the race particularly stand out. It was Burtt once again who worked on the sound effects. Him and his team made a different sound for each vehicle, giving the podracers a personality. The team used many sounds from the engines of many sports cars such as Porches and Mustangs and used a sound synthesizer and wave-table chopper to finish it off, making the epic sounds of the pod racers.
TIE Fighters are the Empire's equivalent of the X-Wing. These spaceships have a small pod-like cockpit with two solar panel wings attached. Out of all the ships in the Star Wars saga, it's safe to say the screech of the TIE Fighter is the most iconic. What that screech actually is though is a mix of a car driving on wet road and an elephant scream. Now that you know that, you can so hear that elephant scream!
Nothing is more iconic that the lightsaber. Every Star Wars movie has to have a lightsaber battle as they are the highlights of the movie. The recognizable appearance of a lightsaber also comes with its iconic range of noises like when it is powered up and down and when they are clashed together in combat. The lightsaber is one of the most technical sounds. It was created by Burtt and in an interview with Star Wars Insider, he said he knew exactly what he wanted the sound to be when he first read the script for Star Wars.
“Oddly enough, it was the first sound I ever made for Star Wars. When I read the script, I immediately had something in mind. It was an old motor on a projector at the USC Cinema Department. I went and recorded it right away. The humming sound was partly based on that motor.”
The general hum of the lightsaber is a mixture of interlock motors and is played over and over again, which gives the iconic 'vvmmmm.'
Darth Vader's Breathing
I saved the best for last! The breathing of Darth Vader is by far the most iconic sounds taken from the Star Wars saga, and it's from one of the most iconic characters of all time. Before you even think it, the sound is not made by someone putting their hands over mouth and breathing, as that is how most of us try and make the noise. However, it is not very far off from how it's actually made. Burtt created the sound by placing a microphone inside a regulator on a scuba breathing apparatus, which gave it a very inhuman feel. That was important as it emphasizes that Vader is more machine than man. Burtt then breathed into it multiple different ways- longer and shorter, deeper and higher, even a scratchier version was recorded to use when Vader is injured, like the end of Return of the Jedi. What Burtt essentially did was take breathing and make it sound like what Vader is- an injured man breathing inside a machine.
Last but not least, go check out my new YouTube channel, Movie Hutt, dedicated to the world of film. Above, you can see one of my latest videos that is a part of a segment called The Weekly Hutt. Every week we discuss all the big movie news. We talk about the big changes being taken by the DC Cinematic Universe, the box office, set photos from Doctor Strange and much more! We missed the Rogue One trailer this week, but we will have it on The Weekly Hutt this week, along with the Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad trailer thoughts. Please tune in and leave your comments on the video — and also SUBSCRIBE!