There are many wonderful things about being a Star Wars fan, but not to be discounted is the appreciation for the unique soundscape it presents -- much of it created by the legendary Ben Burtt. There is nothing in cinema history that sounds like an X-Wing rocketing through space, or a R2-D2 speaking, and they are noises that every aficionado immediately recognizes. Certainly the activation of a lightsaber fits into this category, but it may surprise you to learn exactly how that sound is made: using an emergency life vest. Sound designer Ren Klyce recently told me,
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Star Wars: The Last Jedi sound designers Ren Klyce and Matthew Wood last week during a special Los Angeles press day, and it was during a conversation about the legacy sounds of the franchise that I learned the above Easter egg. I asked the two men if there was a specific formula that had been passed down for creating the special noises of the sci-fi saga, and they went on to explain how one of the most iconic of all time is made.
As Ren Klyce and Matthew Wood continued, I learned that there was a bit of trial and error involved in the process. After purchasing a bunch of automatically-activated life vests, they wound up discovering that it takes a special method to get precisely the sound that they wanted for Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
Pretty amazing, right? And certainly a wonderful demonstration of the sound design craft. Next time you see a lightsaber activate on the screen just try and imagine where that sound really comes from, and you may never look at Star Wars the same way again.
Of course, you can do exactly that right now at your local theater. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters everywhere now, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the filmmakers and artisans who helped make the new movie!
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.