Learn the Secrets of The Oscar-Nominated Sound Department for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when you think of Star Wars? You might be surprised to find that what pops in your head isn’t a specific image, but perhaps a sound. Whether it’s the potent hum of a lightsaber, the deep, sonorous voice of Darth Vader (thank you, James Earl Jones), the beeps of R2-D2 or the high-pitched whine of a TIE-Fighter’s laser canons, Star Wars is as much a sonic experience as it is a visual one. The lightsaber, for example, has one of the most iconic sound designs of any prop in film history. For that, you can thank the great Brett Burtt, original sound designer of Star Wars and one of the most important members of Lucas’s original team.

The sound for every Star Wars film is created and mixed at Skywalker Ranch, where some of the best sound editors and mixers in the world ply their talents on a galaxy far, far away. For the Oscar-nominated team who worked on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (they were nominated for both editing and mixing), a new documentary from ABC News is taking you into their editing bay to learn their secrets, their lucky breaks (an intern is responsible for finding the porgs signature cry…from turkeys), and find out why one of the most moving moments in The Last Jedi had no sound at all, which prompted theaters to warn viewers that no, the sound system is not broken.

“Sound is still such a mystery,” writer/director Rian Johnson says at the top of this new trailer. “It’s not just a layer that you put on top of the storytelling, it is the storytelling.”

One of the most surprising things you’ll learn in this trailer is that for all of Skywalker Ranch’s incredible technology, and the expertise of their staff, many of the sounds are made practically, with foley artists physically banging things together. While Star Wars seems like an all digital creation, much of it is made in just this way, whether it’s lovingly created, handmade creatures or practical effects, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, like previous films in the franchise, is as much DIY as it is computer generated effects.

The doc will debut on ABCNews.com/features on February 20, 2018.

Featured image: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The planet Crait. Photo: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.