Ben Burtt left Lucasfilm in 1990 to pursue other interests as a freelancer: writing, directing, editing. He went back to Sound Designer's chair again for the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition. "I was the only one who could remember where most of the stuff was, where the tapes were, what we had done," he says with a smile.
"It was exciting to go back and get in touch with the picture again, the old friends who were there. R2-D2, and the lightsabers."
Following the Special Edition project, Ben Burtt stayed on board for Episode I.
Even though he could draw from an extensive library of sounds, including those used in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, for the Episode I project Burtt went out to record new samples.
He also drew upon the large collection of sounds he has recorded during the last decade. In all his travels, from his back yard to the far reaches of an exotic country, Burtt has carried his recording equipment with him, capturing everything and anything on digital tape.
"You have to be constantly ready," he says, "because good sounds often come to you by accident: lightning storms, strange vehicle noises, glaciers breaking apart...it can happen anywhere." These recordings, most of them never used before, have provided Burtt with fresh raw material to mold into new Star Wars sounds.
While creating innovative atmospheres, Burtt takes great care to stay true to the original Star Wars ambiance.
"We've got lightsabers, we've got lasers, we've got so many signature effects which reoccur in this movie, and I think it's only appropriate to touch on those because they're familiar to the fans."
One of Burtt's goals are to establish a set of sounds which could stand the test of time. "I think we've achieved that with Star Wars," he says. "We've created a 'world of sounds' that's coherent and can endure the passage of time...it's been over 20 years, and Star Wars still has a distinct sound to it."
The story behind the creation of the lasergun sound in
Star Wars told by Ben Burtt's father
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