7 Things We Learned About THE LAST JEDI’s Sound Design

One of the joys of watching a new Star Wars film is hearing the new sounds that enrich every scene. Some are pulled from the extensive Lucasfilm sound archives, while many are completely fresh. We sat down with co-sound supervisors Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce to discuss what went into making the sound effect soundtrack for The Last Jedi and learned about sounds from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a race car, and more.

Slot Machine BB-8 Challenges

Once Dobbu Scay ( Mark Hamill’s mo-cap character) loads BB-8 up with coins in Canto Bight, the round astromech sounds like a rolling slot machine—and it wasn’t an easy sound to achieve. Wood said they went through a lot of experimentation for that in order to make the sound read above all the action and music happening in the sequence. They wanted to establish the coins were inside BB-8, and Wood explained small coins didn’t pack the right punch. Klyce said, “Our Foley team was being completely tortured by that. We couldn’t get the sound right for the longest time.”

Hyperspace Bullet

After Vice Admiral Holdo flies the Raddus into the Supremacy like a hyperspace bullet, there’s silence for a beat. But then it comes back with a rush of sound. “When the ship ultimately explodes, it’s a bunch of different sounds in there and one of the sounds is weird, but it’s a sound of a Formula One car driving by with a Doppler,” said Klyce. “If you listen to it, you know when a car drives by it kind of goes [Klyce demonstrates noise], it kind of makes that Doppler? So, it’s just that manipulated and pitched. So, you reach for strange noises you know that might sound completely inappropriate but you tuck it in there and learn, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s an interesting nuance.'”

Kylo and Rey’s Lightsaber Struggle

When Rey and Kylo Ren struggle in Supreme Leader Snoke’s room and try to gain control of the Skywalker lightsaber, Wood turned to Star Wars Rebels. Klyce said, “The music’s playing and there’s tension and everything. And Rian’s like, ‘Yeah, we need some sort of sound there.’ I reply, ‘Okay, I think I’ve got something.’ And then Matt goes, ‘You know, we have a crystal sound from…’ and went and found it.”

Wood recalled going for a sound used in Star Wars Rebels when Maul and Ezra Bridger struggle over a holocron. He said, “I used something from the holocron from Rebels. Because have a lot of stuff since we have a lot of ancillary projects that are all Star Wars, so it’s like get the singing tone of the holocron stone. I wanted to use something that we had, that was going to hearken back to that. I mean, whether or not anyone ever knows that…but sound is so subliminal.”

Canto Bight Police

The alarms on the Canto Bight police speeders? Fans of The Clone Wars might recognize that sound from the animated series.

BB-8’s Laugh

Among BB-8’s many beeps and boops, there was a laugh at one point. Klyce joked they initially went for the wrong sound for the laugh: “Everybody liked it but then Matt you were like, ‘There’s something about that laugh that I just don’t like.’ It was for BB-8. We’ve changed it, so it’s no longer in the film, but finally you realized what the sound was used for because it was driving you nuts.”

Wood said it was a vulture droid laugh, so since that’s from the prequel era when BB-8 wasn’t around, it’s understandable. Klyce laughed, “He [Wood] has this like moral sonic compass would not allow that sound to be in there.” Instead, Rian Johnson ended up making that sound himself.

Fathier Noises

Fathier noises are another hodgepodge of animal sounds. They turned to bears for some of the vocals but also to goats. One sound in particular is a male goat trying to get to a female goat. Klyce remembered, “The male goats, this one in particular that we just found, this fantastic sounding animal in Petaluma and recorded it and then pitched it down and it sounded like an ornery strange creature, so that was excellent.”

Porg Coos

Making porg sounds was more complicated than just trying bird sounds. Klyce and Wood combined sounds from chickens on Skywalker Ranch, coos from doves, and a bird call device. Read about how the sounds were put together to create a full range for the porgs here at Nerdist.

Which sounds in The Last Jedi jumped out at you?

Images: Lucasfilm

Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. She likes Star Wars a little. Follow her on Twitter.

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