Ben Burtt Talks Star Trek (& Star Wars) Sounds + Links To More Recent Star Trek/Star Wars Connections May 19, 2009by John Tenuto , Filed under: Sci-Fi,Star Trek (2009 film),Trek Franchise , trackback
Today is the 10th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which is still the 6th best grossing film in US history. Star Trek and Star Wars have always had a symbiotic relationship (from Lucas’ ILM providing effects to George Takei’s voice in Clone Wars). So today TrekMovie provides some recent SW/ST links and references, including a new interview with Star Wars (and Star Trek) sound designer Ben Burtt.
Ben Burtt talks Star Trek and Star Wars in new interview
TMPEG has a fascinating interview with Ben Burtt, the sound editor of the Star Wars films and genius behind WALL-E and so many films, who also contributed to the new Star Trek film. The interview contains interesting information on the origins of Star Trek sounds and Burtt’s work on the film. Burtt Talks about creating the sounds for photon torpedoes, phasers, warp, transporters and more. Burtt notes how he brought some Star Wars into the sound for the phasers.
EGM: We’ve talked about the library of sounds you created for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek. Can you talk about how you re-created some of the iconic effects for the movie? Let’s start with the hand phaser.
BB: In the original series, the steady blast of the phaser was derived from the hovering sound of the Martian war machines made for the 1953 version of Paramount’s War of the Worlds. The original was made with tape feedback of an electric guitar and a harp. You can achieve a very similar sound on a Moog synthesizer by modulating a steady sine wave with pink noise. The phasers in the new movie are more like the blasters in Star Wars in the sense that they are flying bolts or tracer bullets, rather than a steady beam. The steady sound just wasn’t the right way to go because the visuals are so different, so I made something that recalls it, but features a Doppler effect and is shorter and sharper. My sounds were added to those that had already been supplied by Mark P. Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin.
He also addressed how Trek fans would feel about him coming into their franchise:
EGM: Do you think the Trekkies will “get” your work on Star Trek?
BB: It’s very difficult to satisfy all fans, especially when these sounds are such a part of science fiction folklore. But you can’t make a movie just for the fans. You respect their loyalty and you want them to come along for the ride, but you first have to make the movie for yourself. It may sound corny, but I feel that if you put love into your work, hopefully that will give the film a special quality that will enamor the audience as well. What I did on Star Trek was to build on the audio legacy that I loved from the original TV series, and to expand and amplify it to fill J.J.’s epic vision; it’s the original series on steroids!
Ben Burtt talks sounds of Star Trek and Star Wars
MORE RECENT STAR WARS/STAR TREK CONNECTIONS
Star Wars actor talks Trek fandom in official Star Wars Magazine
The Official Star Wars Insider Magazine (Issue #109, a Special 100 page Phantom Menace issue, available on newsstands now) has an interview with Star Wars actor Ralph Brown ("Ric Olie") who discusses how William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s acting helped prepare him for his role as the Naboo who teaches Anakin Skywalker how to be a pilot. From the interview by Jonathan Wilkins:
I’d grown up with Star Trek and watched William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy speaking with absolute and utter sincerity about faintly ludicrous scenarios. There’s ways of saying those lines, which is to say them with utter convictions and sincerity, which makes them resonate. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you shouldn’t be doing films in this genre, really.
The editors of the magazine also chime in about the connections between Trek and Wars:
The most eagerly awaited movie of all time, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is also one of the most influential. Popularizing the idea of the prequel in modern cinema, a variety of franchises have now gone back to their beginnings, with the James Bond and Batman series of movies both enjoying the prequel treatment to much acclaim and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly going back to the beginning in J.J. Abram’s 2009 take on Star Trek.
Star Wars talk in Star Trek: Original Motion Pictures Collection
There are several new bonus features on the Blu-ray Star Trek Motion Picture Collection which reference the connection between Star Wars and Star Trek. "The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture" features much discussion of how the initial success of Star Wars in 1977 helped influence a Star Trek movie (from the TMP disc). The bonus feature of "Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek" discusses the contributions of ILM to Star Trek (from the TSFS disc).
Fan Boys DVD release
Today, the DVD of the film Fan Boys is released. The film features a very fast William Shatner cameo and the stereotypical Star Wars vs. Star Trek sillyness. [see TrekMovie interview with Fanboys director Kyle Newman on Fanboys/Trek connections].
Recent Trek connections at the Official Star Wars Blog
TrekMovie isn’t the only place that sees connections. Since the release of the new Star Trek movie, the official Star Wars blog has been doing a few Star Trek/Star Wars stories:
- A photo of Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) whose son showed his Star Wars pride at the premiere of Star Trek
- A mention of the R2-D2 cameo in the new Star Trek feature film
- Link to the ‘My favorite movie is Star Wars/Star Trek’ parody
- Article on ‘Putting Star Wars into Star Trek’
- Link to parody video of ‘Enterprise destroyed by Deathstar’
May the force live long and prosper with you
At TrekMovie we have never seen a ‘Star Wars v Star Trek’ battle and we are fans of both. So happy birthday, Phantom Menace. And as Star Wars becomes a new television show and Star Trek a new motion picture, we know that the futures of these franchises are forever linked.
Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas
George Lucas and JJ Abrams