This is the end of the Ben Burtt Special. In the Extras of the DVD of Wall-E there are an amazing documentary called “Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds From The Sound Up”. You have to see it! Don’t worry if you don’t have the original DVD, I found that video on YouTube. The embed was disabled but you can see it through this links: Part 1 | Part 2.
Does a sound designer have to be as much librarian as artist?
‘Absolutely. The elements and resources that a sound designer works with are collected from the world around us, and I’ve been collecting sounds for years. Putting in sounds from the real world creates the illusion that these fantasies are credible. So I was always gathering sounds. Animals at the zoo, going out on an aircraft carrier to do motors and airplanes. Travelling around the world, I would always have my recorder with me. If there was a thunderstorm I’d record the thunder. If I got a flat tire I could get a good sound of the rubber slapping the road. I’ve found that almost every sound I’ve recorded, I’ve found a way to use.’
Did you actually invent the term sound designer?
‘Some people think I did. I was one of the first, I may not have been absolutely the first. The film industry in sound was originally divided quite sharply between those that recorded sounds, sound editors that synchronised the sounds and sound mixers who were blending everything together. And what George Lucas wanted me to do was record, do the sound edit and then be around to supervise the mixing, so there was one vision throughout. Because the problem with the process was that it wasn’t coordinated properly.’