Apple recently visited with the audio design geniuses at Skywalker Sound, the studio that crafted the iconic sound effects for the Star Wars movie series. The crew are huge fans of Mac computers, and May the fourth provided the perfect opportunity for Apple to dive into some of the details of the hardware and software used to create the incredibly memorable sounds for the movie series, such as R2D2’s ‘voice.’
Star Wars was more than just a movie. It was a cultural event that inspired a generation. It provided an early look at the revolutionary changes coming to the movie industry and a hopeful message that oppression can be overthrown with determination and personal sacrifice. This was a theme that Apple picked up and made use of in its iconic 1984 advertisement for the Macintosh computer. Audio plays as big of a role as visual effects in conveying the feeling and flavor of a movie. Star Wars creator George Lucas famously noted that sound is ‘at least 50 percent of the moviegoing experience,’ which is represented well with every lightsaber clash and TIE fighter screech.
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Apple spent some time with Skywalker Sound to explore how the sounds that will be forever etched into the minds of Star Wars fans were created. The studio owns 130 Mac Pro racks, 50 iMac, 50 MacBook Pro, and 50 Mac mini computers, all of which run Pro Tools, a professional-quality multi-track audio editing app. Naturally, there are high-quality mics and specialized audio gear of all types as well. The Mac computers are where it all comes together. Sound design is more than simply cutting and pasting. When working on the R2D2’s voice, it quickly became apparent that this was dialog, not just sound effects. The unintelligible beeps and trills of the adorable droid are incredibly emotive and play a significant role in the movie.
An iPhone For Audio Capture
With a vast number of Mac computers on hand, running professional audio recording and processing software, it would be easy to think every sound was synthesized, but that isn’t the case. Instead, Skywalker Sound prefers to capture real sounds. For this, it was noted that even an iPhone could be used to capture sound for professional use simply by opening the Camera app and recording a video.
Skywalker Sound transformed the unique sound of once a broken ceiling fan’s wobbly blades into the ominous sound of laser gates during a lightsaber duel in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. A key to collecting sounds is to always be ready to record and to be sure to classify each sound to build up a helpful library. Users can learn more about how Skywalker Sound works its magic at an event on May 9, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. EDT and Apple provided a registration link to sign up.