When you hear Chewbacca grunt to Han Solo, would you guess his voice came from combining bear howls and walrus roars? And did you know that R2-D2's beeps and burbles were actually a combination of, among other things, bird chirps and human voices patched through a synthesizer? One member of the Star Wars team even lent his formidable belch to the sound library for the fearsome Sarlacc desert monster from "Return of the Jedi."
Star Wars didn't only break new ground for its visual effects in 1977, it set a new standard for recording audio from the natural world to create exotic sounds from a distant galaxy. Author J.R. Rizler joins us to discuss how sound designer Ben Burtt used "found sound" to bring George Lucas' films to life, as detailed in the new book, "The Sound of Star Wars."
Take our Star Wars Quiz
Match each Star Wars creature or event (1-6) with the correct audio clip (A-F). Answers below.
1. Wampa snow creature
2. Ewok language
3. Tauntan, the Hoth world beast of burden
4. Salacious Crumb, Jabba the Hutt's sidekick
5. Death Star Explosion
6. Sarlacc desert monster
Scroll down for Answers
1. Wampa snow creature: D. The sound engineers brought Wampa, the hairy, white snow creature, to life by combining a recording of a zoo elephant and a squawking sea lion.
2. Ewok language: C. The Ewok language was modeled after Kalmuck, a native language spoken by the Torghut tribe of Western Mongolia. Many of the Ewoks' voices were recordings of elderly female actors with raspy or high-pitched voices.
3. Tauntan, the Hoth world beast of burden: E. The voice of Tauntaun, the horned, upright creature Luke rides on the Hoth ice world in "The Empire Strikes Back," was created by adjusting the pitch of a sea otter's vocalizations.
4. Salacious Crumb, Jabba the Hutt's sidekick: F. A crew member recorded the sound for the distinctive laugh of Jabba the Hutt's sidekick, Salacious Crumb, after he shared his unusual hyena-like laugh during one of the many unusual sound auditions.
5. Death Star Explosion: A. The Death Star's climactic explosion was created from a howitzer blast and a thunderclap.
6. Sarlacc desert monster: B. The sound of the Sarlacc desert monster digesting a number of bad guys and Boba Fett was created using recording technician Howie Hammerman's well-known burps, as well as alligators hissing, and mud shoveling, among other things.
This segment aired on December 20, 2010.
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