Sound Design on Star Wars, Flight & Looper

Creative Sound Design on Star Wars

This is a great video featuring sound design ‘godfather’ Ben Burtt on the sound design needed to create the Star Wars universe.

Ben Burtt also did the sound for Pixar’s Wall-E and in this video you get to see him actually creating the sounds used in the film.

Looper – Creating The Score from Pistol Clicks

In this excellent 2 part behind the scenes video from composer Nathan Johnson, he shares how he created the ‘orchestra’ for the score for Looper by sampling field recordings and thereby turning pistol clicks into drum beats. Nathan also mentions that he was inspired to do this because of guys like Ben Burtt.

Sound Design for a Plane Crash inFlight

The Sound Works Collection is an incredible resource for any one interested in sound design for film and television. This comment from sound designer Randy Thom is a gem of an insight on how to create tension in a scene and practically how to do it in the mix. In this episode on the sound design for Flight there is a great breakdown of how sound effects were created and effected to build the final mix. Fascinating stuff!

Randy ThomI wanted to elaborate on something I said in the interview relating to the need to have the jet engine whine constantly rising in pitch throughout the pre-crash sequence. It merits some elaboration because it’s a very useful approach to a common challenge in sound design. Almost any sound rising pitch or frequency (by which I mean shorter and shorter intervals) over time will tend to increase the level of tension or excitement in a sequence like this. In a long sequence like the one in Flight you need that rise to last about eight minutes, but you also need it to be noticeable even over a few seconds. The problem is that you quickly get through two or three octaves, and you don’t have any higher to go. The technique we used was to create about 30 seconds of pitch rise in the turbine whine, then cycle through variations on that same rise many times. The trick is to do long crossfades, in this case at least ten seconds, between the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. In other words, you start the second iteration of the sound about two thirds of the way through the first iteration, and crossfade the two. When the crossfades are that long you tend not to notice, even if you know what to listen for, that you are hearing basically the same rise in pitch over and over again. The illusion is that the pitch seems to keep rising, uniformly, forever. A very useful illusion.

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