Burtt in 2013
Benjamin Burtt Jr.
July 12, 1948
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Children||Benjamin A. Burtt|
Benjamin Burtt Jr. (born July 12, 1948) is an American sound designer, film editor, director, screenwriter, and voice actor. As a sound designer, his credits include 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).
Burtt is 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, the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader and creating the Ewoks’ language, ewokese. Burtt was also the sound editor for WALL-E and performed the vocalizations of the titular character as well as other robots in the film.
Burtt has won four Academy Awards, two of which are Special Achievement Academy Awards. He has also directed numerous documentary films and was the editor of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Burtt was born in Jamesville, New York, on July 12, 1948.The son of a chemistry professor and a child psychologist, Burtt made films as a child, and later studied physics at Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1970.
Burtt made films during his time in college, and in 1970 won a National Student Film Festival for his war film entitled Yankee Squadron, [ citation needed ] He had previously made an amateur film at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, a living aviation museum in Red Hook, New York, under guidance from its founder, Cole Palen.[ citation needed ]reputedly after following exposure to classic aviation drama.
For his work on the special-effects film Genesis, Burtt won a scholarship to the University of Southern California,where he earned a master's degree in film production.
Burtt pioneered many aspects of 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.
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), Burtt's provided the voice for Lushros Dofine, captain of the Invisible Hand cruiser. The heavy breathing of Darth Vader was created by recording Burtt's own breathing in an old Dacor scuba regulator.
Burtt used the voice of an elderly lady that he had met in a photography shop for the voice of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial . The woman's low pitch was the result of very heavy smoking, specifically Kool cigarettes. Burtt 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, Burtt 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 has worked on. Taken from a character named "Wilhelm" in the film The Charge at Feather River , the sound can be heard in a large number of films, including 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 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 short (less than one second) of silence is to accentuate the resulting explosion in the mind of the listener. Burtt has 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."
Burtt was among the golden ears that critically reviewed the various audio compression systems that were proposed for the ATSC 1.0 digital television system.
A tongue-in-cheek homage to 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 has 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 also wrote several episodes of the 1980s Star Wars cartoon Droids .
Burtt 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 Burtt falls is his own imitation of the Wilhelm that he popularized. In Episode I – The Phantom Menace , Burtt appears in the background of the end celebration scene;his character is named Ebenn Q3 Baobab, a reference to a Droids character.
|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|
|Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound||2019||Yes||As himself|
|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|
Burtt was awarded the Doctor of Arts, honoris causa, by Allegheny College on May 9, 2004.
The Hollywood Post Alliance awarded him with The Charles S. Swartz Award for outstanding contributions to the field of post production.
Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas from a story by Lucas, who was also the executive producer. It is the third installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, the third film to be produced, the sixth film in the "Star Wars saga" and the first film to use THX technology. It takes place one year after The Empire Strikes Back. The film stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm, distributed by 20th Century Fox and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, and Frank Oz. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and begins the "Skywalker saga", though it was the fourth film to be produced chronologically. The Phantom Menace is set 32 years before the original film and follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala in hopes of securing a peaceful end to an interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is a 2002 American epic space-opera film directed by George Lucas and written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales. It is the second installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the fifth film to be produced, and the second film in the "Skywalker saga". It stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz. Set ten years after the events in The Phantom Menace, the galaxy is on the brink of civil war, with thousands of planetary systems threatening to secede from the Galactic Republic. After Senator Padmé Amidala evades an assassination attempt, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker becomes her protector, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates the attempt on her life. Soon, the trio witness the onset of a new threat to the galaxy: the Clone Wars.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Frank Oz. It is the final installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the third chapter in the Skywalker saga and the sixth Star Wars film to be released overall.
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 words 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.
R2-D2 or Artoo-Detoo is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. He has appeared in eleven of the twelve Star Wars films to date. At various points throughout the course of the films, R2, an astromech droid, is a friend to C-3PO, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, BB-8, Rey and D-O. R2-D2 and his companion C-3PO are the only characters to appear in every Star Wars film, with the exception of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is best known for creating and producing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as its leadership in developing special effects, sound and computer animation for films. Lucasfilm was founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1971 in San Rafael, California; most of the company's operations were moved to San Francisco in 2005. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in December 2012 for $2.2 billion in cash and $1.855 billion in stock.
The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been used in at least 400 films and TV series, beginning in 1951 with the film Distant Drums. The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion.
Matthew Russell Wood is an American sound editor and voice actor. For the last 28 years, he has worked on numerous film projects, his work being credited as sound editing and sound design. He has been an innovative force within the industry, pioneering new technologies for motion pictures. He is a supervising sound editor at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California. He also voices General Grievous in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and various video games.
Skywalker Sound is the sound effects, sound editing, sound design, sound mixing and music recording division of Lucasfilm. Its main facilities are located at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in Lucas Valley, near Nicasio, California.
Star Wars: Droids – The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO is a 1985 animated television series spin off from the original Star Wars trilogy. It focuses on the exploits of droids R2-D2 and C-3PO between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The series was produced by Nelvana on behalf of Lucasfilm and broadcast on ABC with its sister series Ewoks.
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy is a 2004 documentary film directed by Kevin Burns and narrated by Robert Clotworthy. It documents the making of the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983), and their impact on popular culture.
Carl Ernst Fosselius, better known as Ernie Fosselius, is an American filmmaker. He is best known for his satirical spoofs of popular films, including the Star Wars parody Hardware Wars.
WALL-E is a 2008 American computer-animated science fiction romance film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton, produced by Jim Morris, and co-written by Jim Reardon. It stars the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver, with Fred Willard in the film’s only prominent live-action role. The overall ninth feature film produced by the company, WALL-E follows a solitary trash compactor robot on a future, uninhabitable, deserted Earth, left to clean up garbage. However, he is visited by a probe sent by the starship Axiom, a robot called EVE, with whom he falls in love and pursues across the galaxy.
Ewoks are a fictional species of small, mammaloid bipeds that appear in the Star Wars universe. They are hunter gatherers resembling teddy bears that inhabit the forest moon of Endor and live in various arboreal huts and other simple dwellings. They first appeared in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi and have since appeared in two made for television films, The Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985), as well as a short-lived animated series and several books and games.
David Randall Thoms is a sound designer, and the current Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound.
Ryder Windham is an American science fiction author who has written more than 60 Star Wars books, including novels, comics, and reference books. He has also written junior novelizations for Indiana Jones films. Since 1993, he has been working on Star Wars projects either by himself or with other authors. His reference book Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide spent three weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2005.
Tom Bellfort is a sound editor. He has done sound editing on over 80 films since 1983.
Lorne Peterson is a Canadian special effects artist most known for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films.
BB-8 is a droid character in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). He later appeared in the other two films of the sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and the animated series Star Wars Resistance. He is a BB astromech droid serving the Resistance, and is owned by Poe Dameron. Spherical with a free-moving domed head, BB-8 is portrayed by both a rod puppet and a remote-controlled robotic unit.