Rogue One’s sound designer on the legacy of Star Wars

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One of the many things that lets you know you’re watching a Star Wars movie isn’t just its unique visuals, or even its iconic music – it’s the sound. Matthew Wood, who was supervising sound editor on Episodes 13, The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Force Awakens (plus the upcoming untitled Episode VIII) revealed his thoughts (speaking with IGN) on the legacy and magic of the sounds of Star Wars, and how to balance the new and old in Rogue One on which he’s also sound editor.

‘Star Wars just has such a great legacy of sound that we’ve kept really special over the years… Ben Burtt, who’s the original sound designer from the first Star Wars in ’77, was my mentor, and we’ve worked together on many, many projects. He’s still active at Skywalker Sound, almost 40 years after the first Star Wars. We’ve kept those sounds very special, so they’re only used in Star Wars films. I mean Skywalker Sound, we do a ton of other movies, but we keep those sounds special, because we want that. You hear a TIE fighter, you’re gonna know that’s a TIE fighter. It’s not going to be like, “Oh, I heard that in Transformers. I heard that in Pirates of the Caribbean.” This is the TIE fighter, and it hasn’t been spread out amongst all the different movies.’

And on the magic of sound to transport you, Wood had a few words too:

‘Sound has that way to subliminally take you, to connect you to things, and it’s a very easy way to do it. It’s not onscreen. We don’t have to render it. We pay special homage to the lightsabersz and the wookiees and the wampas and the TIE fighters and the X-Wings. All of that has a connection back. So those sounds we don’t really want to alter much.

‘[We would] take things that are in that same patina [of the old sounds] and create new ships and, you know… David Acord, who was my co-supervisor on The Force Awakens – and we both did The Clone Wars together as well – we’ve just tried to take a blend of what we made in Clone Wars and what we’ve done in the Prequels and now The Force Awakens and just tried to put it in that same zone so it seems like it’s in that same universe.’

Rogue One will be the first live-action standalone Star Wars movie – so it’s good to hear that the Galaxy’s best guys are on it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released on December 16 this year.

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