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Posted by on Sep 30, 2009 | 0 comments

Ben Burtt Special: Wall-E – Animation Sound Revolution!


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.

Finally, let’s check another interview with Ben Burtt at Time Out London:

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.’

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Posted by on Sep 28, 2009 | 1 comment

Ben Burtt Special: Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones



The last part of the Ben Burtt – Star Wars Special. This time with Episode II: Attack of The Clones. I have two interesting articles to share to you. First article is from Film Sound, a really interesting interview with Ben Burtt talking about the sound of Episode II:

It sounds like an enormous undertaking.

The thing about any ‘Star Wars’ film, especially the ones that we’re doing now, is that post-production is almost like making two feature films at the same time. You’re doing a live-action feature film, with all the necessary logging and storytelling-through-editing, and all the data that needs to be managed for a regular feature film. You’re also really doing a full-length cartoon because almost every shot in the movie involves animation, which has a different approach to how you design a shot and where the images come from. In the end, every shot becomes a special effects shot — and there are thousands of them. So anyone coming on in post-production on this picture side is faced with managing these three huge areas: normal feature, fully animated feature, and then the two of them being interlaced with one another in complicated ways.

When did this whole process begin for you?

We’ve been on the film for two years. In March of 2000, I started previsualizing sequences. I would get a verbal description from George of a sequence, like the “Speeder Chase,” and then begin creating images for it and cutting things together prior to going to Australia so that he could react to it. We did a lot of editing up front that helped George to design the sequence, to pick out camera angles and to develop the action in the sequences. By the time we got to filming in Sydney, there were three or four pieces already edited as what’s called a “videomatic version” of a sequence, which was a good reference for George while he was shooting. A lot of decisions had to be made ahead of time about what angles, what coverage, and what kind of motion would make the sequence work the best. George traditionally likes to work out as much of that as possible before he gets on the set. […]

About how many layers of video were you dealing with for each shot?

On the average, we probably had five or six layers of video for every shot of the movie, and sometimes many more. You very rarely had everything in front of the camera. The whole movie was shot in pieces. So the editing room activity for me became a great deal of constructing images, as well as cutting together the story with those images. Also, you could cut a scene together and see what worked and didn’t work. Then, to make corrections, you could start altering the image and changing the timing, changing the location of a character or actor on the screen, cutting them out and moving them over a little bit, shrinking the whole frame so they could paint a bigger set around it, or adding and subtracting characters. It became a very complicated editorial process.

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Posted by on Sep 25, 2009 | 3 comments

Ben Burtt Special: Star Trek (2009)

Star Trek
Some of us were surprised when it was announced that Ben Burtt would be the Sound Designer for the new Star Trek film. Undoubtedly, the sound work was incredible (again). Casually, U.S.O reported yesterdey at Twitter that the issue #21 of Star Trek Magazine has an interview with Ben Burtt. Here is an excerpt:

Sound Designer Ben Burtt talks about the elements of the original Star Trek TV show that he tried to emulate in the new movie…

Two things in the original Star Trek effects were revolutionary: Roddenberry had his team create lots of detail. Every room in the ship sounded different. Every button made a noise, when you pressed a lever or a switch. Not only were there sounds articulating all these things to make them sound like they were real, but they were very musical sounds. Somebody pressed a button, there was a little melody. That was not in the movie at the point I came on: you’d just hear a little beep. If it was Star Trek, it needed to sing a little bit and feel like it was alive. You really felt there was a complex operation going on and it was fun to listen to. The ships and the weapons and the ambiences of the places they went to were a form of music. When they went to planets there was always a tone going on, like a ringing bell, or chimes in echo. I tried to create sounds in that style.

The other thing that was used a lot in the original show a lot was shortwave radio recordings and sounds off of transmissions and Morse code, things you can pick up in-between the dials on a shortwave radio.

I love that sort of thing and I’ve collected it for years. There’s some of that in the original Star Trek television show – and the whole beginning of the movie, that first minute or two where the Kelvin is coming into view, is all short wave radio sounds. It reads to the audience that you’re way the heck out at the edge of the universe, barely in contact. Things are far away: there’s these disembodied sounds that are being transmitted back and forth. That’s not the way the sound was, but I wanted to make it seem like the ships were way out there. They’re supposed to be encountering something new so I tried to capitalize on this legacy in science fiction of using radio.

Motion Pictures Editors Guild published an interesting terview with Ben Burtt, called “More Sound Trekking: Ben Burtt’s Further Explorations of Audio Frontiers“. Let’s see:

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2009 | 0 comments

Ben Burtt Special: The Making of Sound of Wall-E

In the first Wall-E post I publish a hudge information and interviews about Wall-E. This second post is dedicated to watch and learn about all the techniques and tools employed by Ben Burtt designing the sounds of Wall-E.

Let’s check this four videos of a 30 mins demonstration on how Ben Burtt brought Wall-E to life and he answered a ton of questions from all the visiting journalists.

Part 1

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2009 | 3 comments

Ben Burtt Special: Star Wars – Phantom Menace


The Star Wars Special continues with our featured sound designer Ben Burtt. Let’s talk about the sound desgin of Episode I: Phantom Menace.

Ben Burtt left Lucasfilm in 1990 to pursue other interests as a freelancer: writing, directing, editing. He went back to Sound Designer’s chair again for the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition.

“I was the only one who could remember where most of the stuff was, where the tapes were, what we had done,” he says with a smile.

“It was exciting to go back and get in touch with the picture again, the old friends who were there. R2-D2, and the lightsabers.”

Following the Special Edition project, Ben Burtt stayed on board for Episode I. Even though he could draw from an extensive library of sounds, including those used in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, for the Episode I project Burtt went out to record new samples.

He also drew upon the large collection of sounds he has recorded during the last decade. In all his travels, from his back yard to the far reaches of an exotic country, Burtt has carried his recording equipment with him, capturing everything and anything on digital tape.

“You have to be constantly ready,” he says, “because good sounds often come to you by accident: lightning storms, strange vehicle noises, glaciers breaking apart…it can happen anywhere.” These recordings, most of them never used before, have provided Burtt with fresh raw material to mold into new Star Wars sounds.

While creating innovative atmospheres, Burtt takes great care to stay true to the original Star Wars ambiance.

“We’ve got lightsabers, we’ve got lasers, we’ve got so many signature effects which reoccur in this movie, and I think it’s only appropriate to touch on those because they’re familiar to the fans.”

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