Pro Sound Effects Blog

Star Wars Sound Design Explained by Ben Burtt

Dive into the interstellar sound world of Star Wars with sound designer Ben Burtt.

INDEPTH Sound Design, created by Mike James Gallagher, stores an abundance of sound design deconstructions and aural inspiration.

The most recent video from INDEPTH concludes the sound effects analysis of the entire original Star Wars Trilogy, with the final 1983 film, Return of the Jedi. The 40 minute video features  Academy Award®-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., WALL-E) going through the creation of unique sounds for the iconic scenes, creatures, & technology of Star Wars.

In the video above, Burtt begins by diving right in with the character sound development of Jabba The Hutt, revealing the sources that helped bring the slug-like creature to life. He shares the special ways in which he chose the voices of characters, and the everyday sounds which layered together to become weapons and other tech like the Speeder Bikes.

"A good sound designer always keeps ears and eyes open in everyday life, because some of the best sounds that we record, or the most useful sounds, are just things you encounter sometimes by accident."

Burtt offers his insight and helpful tips on the recording process in the video. He explains that the use of real sounds in an otherwise artificial sci-fi film, gave the film a sense of "credibility", and that sounds recorded in everyday conditions, which he terms 'raw material' oftentimes are the most useful. 

You can watch Burtt's explanations of all three original Star Wars films on the INDEPTH Sound Design YouTube channel – plus many more sonic explorations of blockbuster movies.

"Orchestration of sound is very important in order to provide crescendos & pauses. Silence can be a major element in helping you get impact in the sound."  

These engrossing breakdowns give an insight on how sound can create a new world outside of our galaxy, and how they brought George Lucas' vision to life.

Follow INDEPTH on Instagram and YouTube for the latest breakdowns, and support on Patreon for more education sound design videos to come!