The amazing story behind the sounds of Star Wars: Episode IV

In this wonderful video, Ben Burtt, sound designer for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, reveals the secrets behind the fantastic zaps, beeps, and growls in that first film in the series. His first task was to figure out Chewbacca's voice that, ultimately, came from a pet bear on a farm in Tehachapi, California.

Also, I distinctly remember when I was a kid hearing for the first time that Burt discovered the blaster sound during a hike when he accidentally banged his backpack on a guy-wire anchoring a radio tower. After I learned that, I hammered on any guy-wire I came across for at least a week.

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Watch Lucille Ball demo a 1939 ancestor of the "talk box" famously used by Peter Frampton

In this 1939 newsreel, the great Lucille Ball demonstrates the Sonovox, a device that brings amplified sound effects from vinyl records into the throat where the tongue and lips modulate it. Here's the patent for the Sonovox, invented by Gilbert Wright and used in TV advertisements, the movie Dumbo (1941) for Casey Junior the train's voice, and the "days of the week" radio jingle that was included on The Who Sell Out (1967).

Of course the Sonovox begat the "talk box" that routes an amplified instrument's sound from a small speaker into the musician's mouth via a rubber tube so they can shape the tone as if they're speaking. In the rock arena, Peter Frampton made the talk box famous on the track "Do You Feel Like We Do" (1973).

More on all this in my post last year featuring Pete Drake's beautiful pedal steel "talk box" tune "Forever" from 1963, long before Peter Frampton showed us the way.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

The ingredients of horror movie sounds include crunchy tomatoes and raw chicken

Matt Davies, a foley artist and sound designer for Studio Unknown, is a master of the slurping, squishy, groaning, gross sounds of horror movies. Zombies are his specialty.

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Classic Hanna-Barbera sound effects

In this video [via Spacetwinks], Hanna-Barbera sound editor Paul Douglas's 10 favorite sound effects are presented for your amusement and transformative misuse. It's sadly missing the "running" sound, though, but it's not hard to find...

(There's an audio CD on Amazon purporting to offer a set of 100 official Hanna Barbera sound effects, and it's got good reviews, but YouTube surely has the lot anyway)

30. Boinks: Boink/Doink/Pixie And Dixie Boinks 31. Bongo Feet & Zip 32. Bonk, Zing, Crash & Zrit 33. Bonks & Conks

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These are radio drama staircases

These unusual "radio drama staircases" are inside the BBC's sound studios. When an actor is recorded walking up or down the stairs, the different surfaces (wood, carpet, cement) give the acoustic impression of unique locations for the radio drama. Samuel West shot the image above at BBC's Maida Vale Studios. Apparently, they are actually functioning staircases that lead somewhere in the building.

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Chewbacca Coke can comes with unintentional sound effect

Johannes Hansen says: "Fooling around at the office yesterday my colleague Søren noticed this funny sound from the can." Read the rest

The sound of All is Lost

I saw All is Lost a couple of weeks ago. It reminded me of Gravity in a way - both movies are about trying to survive on a damaged vessel. (I liked All is Lost a little more, mainly because it didn't have a wisecracking George Clooney.)

Because All is Lost has hardly any talking in it, the sounds of the water, the weather, and the ship are very important. This excellent short film has comments from All is Lost's re-recording mixer, sound designers, supervising sound editor, and the music composer.

The Sound of All is Lost Read the rest