Benjamin "Ben" Burtt, Jr. (born July 12, 1948) is an American sound designer, film editor, director, screenwriter, and voice actor. He has worked as sound designer on various films, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), WALL-E (2008) and Star Trek (2009).
He is most notable for popularizing the Wilhelm scream in-joke and creating many of the iconic sound effects heard in the Star Wars film franchise, including the "voice" of R2-D2, the lightsaber hum, the sound of the blaster guns, and the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader, made from himself breathing into a scuba regulator. Burtt is also known for "voicing" the title character, Wall-E, in the 2008 Pixar movie WALL-E. He also created the robotic sound of Wall-E's voice, along with all the other characters in WALL-E, and was the sound editor of the movie.
Burtt in 2013
Benjamin Burtt, Jr.
July 12, 1948
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Occupation||sound designer, film editor, film director, screenwriter, voice actor|
|Awards||Doctor of Arts, Charles S. Swartz Award, Academy Award|
In 1970, he won the National Student Film Festival with a war film citation needed, reputedly after following exposure to classic aviation drama through making an amateur film at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, a living aviation museum in Red Hook, New York, under guidance from its founder, Cole Palen.
Burtt pioneered modern sound design, especially in the science-fiction and fantasy-film genres. Before his work in the first Star Wars (now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, science-fiction films tended to use electronic-sounding effects for futuristic devices. Burtt sought a more natural sound, blending in "found sounds" to create the effects. The lightsaber hum, for instance, was derived from a film projector idling combined with feedback from a broken television set, and the blaster effect started with the sound acquired from hitting a guy-wire on a radio tower with a hammer.
He is personally responsible for some of the sounds heard in films. In the Star Wars series, part of R2-D2's beeps and whistles are Burtt's vocalizations, also made using an ARP 2600 synthesizer, as are some of the squawks made by the tiny holographic monsters on the Millennium Falcon spacecraft. In Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) he provided the voice for Lushros Dofine, captain of the Invisible Hand cruiser. The heavy-breathing of Darth Vader was created by recording his own breathing in an old Dacor scuba regulator.
Burtt used the voice of an elderly lady with a very low voice that he had met in a photoshop for the voice of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The woman's low voice was the result of very heavy smoking, specifically Kool cigarettes. He created the "voice" of the title character and many other robots in Pixar's film WALL-E (2008), about a lonely garbage-compacting robot. Additionally, he is responsible for the sound effects in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Burtt has a reputation for including a sound effect dubbed "the Wilhelm scream" in many of the movies he's worked on. Taken from a character named "Wilhelm" in the film The Charge at Feather River, the sound can be heard in countless films: for instance, in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when a stormtrooper falls into a chasm and in Raiders of the Lost Ark when a Nazi soldier falls off the back of a moving car.
One of Burtt's more subtle, but highly effective sound effects is the "audio black hole." In Attack of the Clones, Burtt's use of the audio black hole involved the insertion of a short interval of absolute silence in the audio track, just prior to the detonation of "seismic charges" fired at the escaping Jedi spaceship. The effect of this second or less of silence is to accentuate the resulting explosion in the mind of the listener. Burtt recalled the source of this idea as follows: "I think back to where that idea might have come to me...I remember in film school a talk I had with an old retired sound editor who said they used to leave a few frames of silence in the track just before a big explosion. In those days they would 'paint' out the optical sound with ink. Then I thought of the airlock entry sequence in 2001. I guess the seeds were there for me to nourish when it came to the seismic charges."
A tongue-in-cheek homage to Ben Burtt appears in the 1997 Activision PC game Zork: Grand Inquisitor - the spell 'Beburtt', which 'creates the illusion of inclement weather', plays dramatic thunderclap and rainfall sounds when cast.
Burtt directed several IMAX documentary films, including Blue Planet, Destiny in Space, and the Oscar-nominated Special Effects: Anything Can Happen. He edited the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy, and several episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Burtt is also credited as the writer of several episodes of the 1980s Star Wars-based cartoon, Droids.
He makes a cameo appearance in two of the Star Wars films as an extra. In Return of the Jedi, he appeared as Colonel Dyer, the Imperial officer who yells "Freeze" before Han Solo knocks him off a balcony. The scream as he falls is his own imitation of the Wilhelm that he popularized. In Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace Burtt appears as Ebenn Q3 Baobab in the background near the end when Padmé Amidala congratulates Palpatine.
|Death Race 2000||1975||Yes||Uncredited|
|The Milpitas Monster||1976||Yes||Special effects artist|
|Star Wars||1977||Yes||Yes||1997 & 2004 versions|
Special dialogue and sound effects
|Invasion of the Body Snatchers||1978||Yes||Special sound effects creator|
|More American Graffiti||1979||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|The Empire Strikes Back||1980||Yes||Yes||1997 & 2004 versions|
Supervising sound editor
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||1981||Yes|
|E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial||1982||Yes||E.T. voice designer|
|The Dark Crystal||1982||Yes||Special sound effects creator|
|Return of the Jedi||1983||Yes||Appeared as Commander Dyer and voice of Tortured Power Droid|
|Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom||1984||Yes||Yes|
|The Adventures of André and Wally B.||1984||Yes||Short film|
|The Dream Is Alive||1985||Yes||Short film|
Supervising sound designer
|Howard the Duck||1986||Yes||Sound effects editor|
|Nutcracker: The Motion Picture||1986||Yes|
|Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic||1986||Yes||Yes||Yes||Short film|
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||1989||Yes|
|The True Story of Glory Continues||1990||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The American Gangster||1992||Yes|
|Destiny in Space||1994||Yes||Co-director|
|Special Effects: Anything Can Happen||1996||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-writer|
|Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||1999||Yes||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
Appeared as Naboo Courier
|Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones||2002||Yes||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith||2005||Yes||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
Provided voice for Lushros Dofine
|Munich||2005||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|WALL-E||2008||Yes||Yes||Provided voice for WALL·E / M-O / Robots|
Supervising sound editor
Provided voice for WALL·E
Special sound effects recordist
|Star Trek||2009||Yes||Yes||Sound editor|
|Super 8||2011||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|Red Tails||2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|Star Trek Into Darkness||2013||Yes||Yes||Supervising sound editor|
|Escape from Planet Earth||2013||Yes||Additional sound design|
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||2015||Yes|
|Star Wars Holiday Special||1978||Yes||Television film|
|Star Wars: Droids||1986||Yes||Yes||Episode: "The Great Heep"|
|The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles||1992–1993||Yes||Yes||Yes||Second unit director (2 episodes)|
|Star Wars: Forces of Destiny||2017–2018||Yes|
The ARP 2600 is a semi-modular analog subtractive audio synthesizer, designed by Dennis Colin for Alan R Pearlman, and manufactured by his company, ARP Instruments, Inc. as the follow-on version of the ARP 2500. Unlike other modular systems of the time, which required modules to be purchased individually and wired by the user, the 2600 was semi-modular with a fixed selection of basic synthesizer components internally pre-wired. The 2600 was thus ideal for musicians new to synthesis, due to its ability to be operated either with or without patch cords. On its initial release it was heavily marketed to high schools and universities.
There are three basic versions of the ARP 2600. The first, dubbed the "Blue Marvin", was housed in a light blue/grey metal case with a keyboard that mated to the synthesizer, and was assembled in a small facility on Kenneth Street in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, during ARP's infancy as a company. They were often mistakenly referred to as "Blue Meanies," but "Marvin" is the correct name as named after ARP's then-CEO Marvin Cohen. Later ARP 2600s used vinyl covered wood construction with metal corners for both the synthesizer and keyboard making it a more durable and portable instrument. Early versions contained an imitation of Robert Moog's 4-pole "ladder" VCF, later the subject of a threatened (though ultimately nonexistent) lawsuit. Finally, in order to fit in with the black/orange theme of ARP's other synthesizers, the ARP 2600s were manufactured with orange labels over a black aluminium panel. The mid-production grey 2600 models featured many changes amongst themselves. Changes in circuitry and panel lettering provided at least three different grey panel models.
Alan R. Pearlman provided synthesizers to well-known musicians, such as Edgar Winter, Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, Joe Zawinul, and Herbie Hancock, each in exchange for his endorsement as a professional user.
Software companies, such as Arturia and Way Out Ware, have released software emulations for use with modern music equipment, such as MIDI devices and computer sequencers.
Sound designer Ben Burtt used an ARP 2600, combined with his own voice, to create the voice of R2-D2 in the Star Wars films. Burtt also used the 2600 to create the sound effects of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost ArkAcademy Award for Best Sound Editing
The Academy Award for Best Sound Editing is an Academy Award granted yearly to a film exhibiting the finest or most aesthetic sound design or sound editing. Sound editing is the creation of sound effects (such as foley). The award is usually received by the Supervising Sound Editors of the film, sometimes accompanied by the Sound Designers.
The nominations process previously took place in two phases. The sound branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shortlisted seven films during the early 1980s until 2006. Clips were screened at a "bake-off" and branch members voted using a weighted ballot to select up to three nominees. In a rule change on June 30, 2006, the bake-off for the Sound Branch was eliminated. The usual process of a "preferential ballot" submission was instituted resulting in five nominees each year.During certain years, the highest award given for this category may be a "Special Achievement Award", not an Oscar. Academy rules require that a minimum number of films must be nominated in a category for an Academy Award to be granted; when the number of qualifying nominees is insufficient, a Special Achievement Award is granted instead.
This is a list of films that have won or been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Effects (1963–1967, 1975), Sound Effects Editing (1977, 1981–1999), or Sound Editing (1979, 2000–present). See Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for a corresponding list of winners for Best Sound.BAFTA Award for Best Sound
The BAFTA Award for Best Sound has been presented to its winners since 1968 and sound designers of all nationalities are eligible to receive the award.Blue Planet (film)
Blue Planet is an IMAX film directed by Ben Burtt, and produced by the IMAX Space Technology corporation for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, as well as Lockheed Corporation. Filmed with the cooperation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it was written, edited, and narrated by Toni Myers.Partially filmed from orbit during space shuttle missions, the film is about the planet Earth. The changes and constants are highlighted, and the film attempts to show how fragile and unique Earth is. Origins of the planet, how it has changed, what man's role in change is, and other issues are discussed. The film features footage that was filmed from space, underwater, computer animations based on satellite data, and a variety of views from the surface to illustrate the topics.Christmas in the Stars
Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album is a record album produced in 1980 by RSO Records. It features recordings of Star Wars-themed Christmas songs and stories about a droid factory where the robots make toys year-round for "S. Claus".
Much of the album is sung and narrated by British actor Anthony Daniels, reprising his role as C-3PO from the Star Wars films. Sound designer Ben Burtt also provided sound effects for R2-D2 and Chewbacca.Craig Barron
Craig Barron (born April 6, 1961) is an American visual effects artist, currently Creative Director at Magnopus, a Los Angeles media company that produces augmented and virtual-reality experiences.Working at Industrial Light & Magic on such films as The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and later at his own VFX studio, Matte World Digital, on Zodiac, Alice in Wonderland and Hugo, Barron has contributed to the effects on more than 100 films. He is an Emmy Award recipient for By Dawn's Early Light and received an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects on Batman Returns. In 2009 he won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Over the course of his career, Barron has become a film historian, author, lecturer and University educator with a focus on the history of visual effects produced in classic films, before and after the digital age.Dacor (scuba diving)
Dacor is a former USA manufacturer of scuba diving gear which was founded 1953 by Sam Davison Jr. in Evanston, Illinois as "The Davison Corporation", from which Dacor was coined by using the initial syllables, "Da" and "cor". Dacor was one of the five original United States diving gear makers: U.S. Divers, Healthways, Voit, Dacor, and Swimaster. Dacor is now merged with Mares.
Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt used an old Dacor scuba regulator to create the heavy breathing of the notorious antagonist Darth Vader.Destiny in Space
Destiny in Space is a 70mm Canadian IMAX documentary film released in 1994. The film was written by Toni Myers, directed by Academy Award-winner Ben Burtt, and narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
The film is a showcase of the daily lives of astronauts in space, as they fix instruments and take measurements. The film includes two space shuttle launches and several cargo bay scenes, including an astronaut repairing the Hubble space telescope. CGI recreations of the surface of Venus and Mars based on satellite data from JPL are also featured. The film looks at the future of human space exploration and what future generations might accomplish in the years to come.
Four filmmakers contributed to directing the film. Director/cinematographer James Neihouse was the cinematographer for Blue Planet, The Dream Is Alive, Michael Jordan to the Max and other IMAX features. Burtt, aside from his lengthy and impressive list of sound crew credits, directed both Destiny and Blue Planet. Toni Myers edited several IMAX pictures, including L5: First City in Space, Hail Columbia! and others.Languages in Star Wars
The Star Wars science fiction universe, created by George Lucas, features dialogue that is not spoken in natural languages. The lingua franca of the franchise, for which the language the works are dubbed or written stand in, is Galactic Basic. Characters often speak languages other than Basic, notably Shyriiwook spoken by Chewbacca, droidspeak spoken by R2-D2 and BB-8, and Huttese spoken by Jabba the Hutt.
The fictional languages were approached as sound design and developed largely by Ben Burtt, sound designer for both the original and prequel trilogy of films. He created alien dialogue out of the sounds of primarily non-English languages, such as Quechua, Haya, and Tibetan. This methodology was also used in The Force Awakens by Sara Forsberg. Lucas also insisted that written text throughout the films look as dissimilar from the English alphabet as possible, and constructed alphabets were developed.
The languages constructed for the films were criticized as not being true constructed languages, instead relying on creating the simple impression of a fully developed language. The usage of heavily accented English for alien characters was also criticized as contributing to the suggestion of racial stereotypes.List of Star Wars cast members
This is a list of Star Wars cast members who voiced or portrayed characters appearing in the film series. The list is sorted by film and character, as some of the characters were portrayed by multiple actors.
Indicators only apply for characters portrayed within multiple categories. All characters without indicators were introduced within the category they are listed on. The cast is divided in six categories: main saga (M), anthology series (A), animated series and Star Wars: The Clone Wars film (S), books (B), comic books (C), and the non-canonical Legends series (L).
^M denotes the character was introduced within the main saga.
^A denotes the character was introduced within the anthology series.
^S denotes the character was introduced within an animated series or The Clone Wars film.
^LS denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends animated series of film before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^B denotes the character was introduced within a novel.
^LB denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends novel before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^C denotes the character was introduced within a comic book or graphic novel.
^LC denotes the character originated within a non-canonical Star Wars Legends comic book or graphic novel before being introduced into the Star Wars canon.
^+ denotes the character introduced within the current category, but also has an extended plot-line within another category. (Example: ^+A would denote the character was introduced within the current category but has an extended plot-line in the anthology series, alternatively ^+S would denote an extended plot-line in the animated series, and ^+AS would denote extended plot-lines on both categories.)List of accolades received by WALL-E
WALL-E (promoted with an interpunct as WALL•E) is an American animation film released in 2008 and directed by Andrew Stanton. Walt Disney Pictures released it in the United States and Canada on June 27, 2008, grossing $23.1 million on its opening day, and $63 million during its opening weekend in 3,992 theaters, ranking number 1 at the box office. It eventually grossed $223 million domestically and $533 million worldwide. WALL-E was well received, with an approval rating of 96% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.The film was nominated for several awards, including seven Annie Awards, six Academy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. WALL-E did not win any of the Annie Awards, all of them awarded to categories competitor Kung Fu Panda. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for Best Original Song, Best Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay at the 81st Academy Awards. Walt Disney Pictures pushed for an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination, but it was not nominated, provoking controversy about the Academy deliberately restricting WALL-E to the Best Animated Feature category. American film critic Peter Travers commented that "If there was ever a time where an animated feature deserved to be nominated for best picture it's Wall-E."The feature has won Best Picture from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, where it became the first animated feature to win that award. It also became the first animated film to win Best Editing for a Comedy or Musical from the American Cinema Editors. The character WALL-E was listed at #63 on Empire's 2008 online poll of the 100 greatest movie characters. Time listed WALL-E number 1 in its top 10 movies of 2008, praising the directors' achievement in connecting with a large audience even though the characters have nearly no dialogue. In early 2010, Time ranked WALL-E number 1 in "Best Movies of the Decade." In 2016, the film was voted 29th out of 100 films regarded as the best of the 21st century by 117 film critics from around the world.Popcorn Taxi
Popcorn Taxi was an Australian independent non-competitive film festival that presented regular film screenings followed by a live Q&A with related 'talent' immediately afterward. The unique nature of each screening was that the events provide patrons with the opportunity to discuss the film with the filmmaker, actor, producer, et al. immediately after viewing it. Feature films, shorts, TV projects and documentaries were all represented within Popcorn Taxi.
Popcorn Taxi's aim was to explore the decisions behind why artists make the choices they do, and how they brought their visions to the screen.
Some of Popcorn Taxi’s on-stage guests have included Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann, Guillermo Del Toro, Kevin Spacey, Rob Zombie, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Vince Gilligan, Wes Anderson, Eddie Izzard, Andrew Stanton, Ben Burtt, Richard Kelly (director), Kevin Smith, George Miller, Dennis Hopper, Wim Wenders, Tim Robbins, Danny Boyle, Errol Morris, Roger Corman, Richard Linklater, Philip Glass, Ewan McGregor, Adam Yauch, Jerry Lewis, Ang Lee, Andrew Dominik, Karen Allen, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, Richard Armitage,R2-D2
R2-D2 (), or Artoo-Detoo, is a fictional robot character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. A small astromech droid, R2-D2 is a major character and appears in nine out of the ten Star Wars films to date. Throughout the course of the films, R2 is a friend to C-3PO, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in various points in the saga.
English actor Kenny Baker played R2-D2 in all three original Star Wars films, and received billing credit for the character in the prequel trilogy, where Baker's role was reduced, as R2-D2 was portrayed mainly by radio controlled props and CGI models. In the sequel trilogy, Baker was credited as consultant for The Force Awakens; however, Jimmy Vee also co-performed the character in some scenes. Vee later took over the role beginning in The Last Jedi. R2-D2's sounds and vocal effects were created by Ben Burtt. R2-D2 was designed in artwork by Ralph McQuarrie, co-developed by John Stears and built by Tony Dyson.Skywalker Sound
Skywalker Sound is the sound effects, sound editing, sound design, sound mixing and music recording division of the Lucasfilm motion picture group. Its main facilities are located at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in Lucas Valley, near Nicasio, California.Special Achievement Academy Award
The Special Achievement Award is an Academy Award given for an achievement that makes an exceptional contribution to the motion picture for which it was created, but for which there is no annual award category. The award may only be conferred for achievements in productions that also qualify as an eligible release for distinguished achievements and meet the Academy's eligibility year and deadlines requirements.The American Gangster
The American Gangster is a 1992 American crime documentary film directed by Ben Burtt and written and produced by Ray Herbeck Jr. The documentary is narrated by Dennis Farina and explores the lives of America's gangsters like Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, Al Capone, and Bugsy Siegel. It was directly released on VHS in 1992 and later released as part of a DVD box set in 2006.The Charge at Feather River
The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western film directed by Gordon Douglas, was originally released in 3D with lots of arrows, lances, and other weapons flying directly at the audience in several scenes.The movie is most notable for originating the name of the "Wilhelm scream", a sound effect used in the Star Wars film series, as well as countless other movies including the Indiana Jones franchise, Disney cartoons and The Lord of the Rings film series. In February 2018 it was announced Star Wars will no longer use Wilhelm scream. Sound designer Ben Burtt named the sound after "Pvt. Wilhelm", a minor character in the film who emits the famous scream after being shot by an arrow (although the recording actually originated in the Gary Cooper film Distant Drums in 1951). When the film screened at the Second World 3-D Expo at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre in 2006, much of the film-savvy audience broke into applause when Pvt. Wilhelm screamed.
The climax of the film has many similarities to the 1868 Battle of Beecher Island, though instead of Army Frontier Scouts, Madison's character recruits "the Guardhouse Brigade" from Army prisoners and arms them with repeating rifles. Some have also noticed that the plot bears a number of similarities to the later Major Dundee, directed by Sam Peckinpah in 1965, notably the journey leading up to the climactic stand-off.