Star Trek Magazine #21 Preview + Star Trek Movie Sound Designer Ben Burtt Interview Excerpt

Star Trek Magazine #21 is just arriving on newstands and Titan has provided TrekMovie with excerpts of their interview Star Trek sound designer Benn Burtt. We also have some previews from the issue, which has a focus on the lighter side of Trek, plus images of the two available covers.


Excerpts from Star Trek Magazine #21

Excerpt of Interview with Star Trek Sound Designer Ben Burtt

Sound Designer Ben Burtt talks about the elements of the original Star Trek TV show that he tried to emulate in the new movie…

Two things in the original Star Trek effects were revolutionary: Roddenberry had his team create lots of detail. Every room in the ship sounded different. Every button made a noise, when you pressed a lever or a switch. Not only were there sounds articulating all these things to make them sound like they were real, but they were very musical sounds. Somebody pressed a button, there was a little melody. That was not in the movie at the point I came on: you’d just hear a little beep. If it was Star Trek, it needed to sing a little bit and feel like it was alive. You really felt there was a complex operation going on and it was fun to listen to. The ships and the weapons and the ambiences of the places they went to were a form of music. When they went to planets there was always a tone going on, like a ringing bell, or chimes in echo. I tried to create sounds in that style.

The other thing that was used a lot in the original show a lot was shortwave radio recordings and sounds off of transmissions and Morse code, things you can pick up in-between the dials on a shortwave radio.

I love that sort of thing and I’ve collected it for years. There’s some of that in the original Star Trek television show – and the whole beginning of the movie, that first minute or two where the Kelvin is coming into view, is all short wave radio sounds. It reads to the audience that you’re way the heck out at the edge of the universe, barely in contact. Things are far away: there’s these disembodied sounds that are being transmitted back and forth. That’s not the way the sound was, but I wanted to make it seem like the ships were way out there. They’re supposed to be encountering something new so I tried to capitalize on this legacy in science fiction of using radio.

Spread from interview with Ben Burtt in Star Trek Magazine

Burtt honored
In other related news, it was recently announced that Ben Burtt is being honored by The Hollywood Post Alliance and will receive the organization’s Charles S. Swartz Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Post Production. The award will be bestowed on Mr. Burtt on November 12th during the Hollywood Post Alliance Awards gala at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. More info at

Much more in Star Trek Magazine on sale now
Issue 21 of the official Star Trek Magazine is on sale now, and it has an emphasis on the lighter side of Star Trek, including an interview with Armin Shimmerman (DS9: Quark) and a column by "Trouble with Tribbles" writer David Gerrold looking back at the production of that classic episode. Here are some sample spreads (click to see larger versions at STM Facebook Page).

And here are the two covers

Star Trek Magazine #21

Previews exclusive cover for Star Trek Magazine #21

The magazine should be arriving on newstands this week and can be ordered (at a  discount) from TFAW.

STM #21
(newsstand edition)

STM #21
(Previews Exclusive)



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Good Magazine!

TOPS!…lot’s of humor can be found throughout TREK…why TREK4 was so good…
Ben Burtt is awesome and can make any sound with anything…I remenber a STAR WARS doc where he went out to record sound effects…
he recorded an awesome photon torpedo like sound by striking a high tension wire with a screwdriver…I remember doing it myself when I found a similar setup…really cool!!!

Funny business… hmm, sounds a bit like the Live Chat portion of this site…

What? Don’t you love me anymore, Denise? Would you like Harry or BND instead now?

TOG- You know I will marry you before I would marry Harry, BND, Shatner or Mudd, my darling,,,

Shatner looks like Pine on that cover….(with brown lenses)

“Sweet words that turn to bitter orange wax in my ears!”
-Philip J. Fry, Futurama

Looks like a great mag. Love Ben Burtt’s work.

But that’s all we need is a bunch of half-in-the-bag lushes from the chat in here sousing up the joint. I mean, really. Don’t any of you have jobs?

#8—Only “half” in the bag?????

Yes, THX. My job is to souse up the joint and to supply ethanol to any and all who choose to stagger into 69 Forward day or night… And I dance too…

Closet!! Where have you been?!

I think I was once arrested for “sousing up a joint”.


Yeah. It’s only 12:17 where I live. We’ve been drinking for only a couple of hours. Full effect at 3.

Closet- You will never be arrested for sousing up our joint, my darling. At least, that is what I think… might want to check with Anthony for confirmation…

Uh, yeah, nice mag… ummm, sound effects are really cool and, uh… know where I can get some souse?

Yeah dude. I gotta flask right here. Have a pull.

I’m dead Jim#15- Go click on the Live Chat tab at the top of the page. Therein do the hobbits, orcs and redshirts dwell…

THX#16- Did you just say you want me to pull your flask?…

I pulled me own flask a few times…. sure wasn’t gin that came oot…
Oh, Crom! We’re supposed ta’ be interested in this here magazine! Sorry…

Uhhhhhh… sounds o’ Trek?

“Wh-wha-oomp”- barrel roll fly-kick noise

“Goosh-ala” – steppin’ on a tribble

“Pfffffffffffffftttt” – annoyin’ sound of air pushing through Picard’s pursed lips as Wesley explains how he saved his ship once a’again

” ” – Archer gettin’ lucky… oh, so silent… no sound, eh?
Oh, I see.


Hey, Dayton! Lookie what we did!

Thanks for the peek under the covers, TrekMovie!

(NO! Not THAT kind of peek! Sheesh, people!)

I’m game for some sousing.


Ben Burtt….a huge “thank you” to yet another person behind this fabulous movie that understands TOS! That’s why this movie succeeded, all the way down line, from the director to the writers to the cast and sound people..they understood their source material. They all had enough snap to know they had to understand their source before they could ever hope to recreate it.

Well done Ben Burtt, your attention to detail was a healthy contributor to the movie’s overall “TOS” vibe and the acclaim for all was well deserved.

Oh, me and Miles O’Brien
Went out a’beer a’buyin’
A quark o’ whiskey fur’ AJ
A sip o’ saurian brandy THX’s way
Denise picks up I’m Dead Jim from tha’ fray
And no matter what, I wills pay
Got me Harry’s Visa card ta’day…



Ben Burtt is right next to John Williams for giving the Star Wars films their indelible magic. Even where the prequels otherwise fell short his sound design pulled you into the story at a gut level.

He came right through again on Star Trek. I loved the Kelvin’s audio cues. It’s great to hear his ideas behind the FX.

#22 … I second that. I LOVED the TOS sound fx in this movie! from the opening shot where the first thing you hear is the bridge chirping sound, to the old school activation sound when Pike or Kirk would tap the shipwide address system button on the command chair, the sound fx never sounded so good!

BND#23- (blushes) Thank you, ya’ wanker…


AJ#27- Is that all you have to say? Seriously?

I’m still on CHAT with CmdrR…Come back!

It’s funny and sad that the guy who helped shape the entire Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises has more understanding for the Star Trek atmosphere than the writers and director of the new movie.

Chattie? Chattie? Goodness, CmdrR- What- arrrrrrrrr magazines some sort o’ dyin’ industry?

Wait… I got a text from Tha’ Atlantic Monthly… seems I owe ’em fifty quatloos fur’ me subby-scription…

Hope they accept a gallon o’ me pee… cost more than fifty quatloos in gin ta’ produce it all, it did…

Oh, me apologies… I do hope mags like Starry Trek live on… nothin’ like holdin’ somethin’ in yer’ hands… It’s really a wonderful thing to collect magazines for the simple fact that the written word is never so grand than printed on paper and… Awwwwwwk! Got a text from Harper’s Magazine tellin’ me ta’ stop sayin’ they be tha’ fashion mag wit’ almost nudie emaciated lasses rather than tha’ literary mag that published Mark Twain’s encounter wit’ Data…


Probably John Williams would have been a much better choice for creating the soundtrack, too.

#8: Actually, I don’t have a job… dammit!

How do you get the other cover version? I used to have a subscription and it was always the same cover as the newstand. Anyone know? THX

I certainly hope that Burtt is brought back for the next one. I knew I was going to like his work when I saw a preview clip from Delta Vega and there was that musical tone in the background. That’s straight-up TOS, right there.

35 Yeah, I recognized that too in the theater! I was like, is that really the planet sound effects I hear?

Interesting to hear Burtt’s perspective on the TOS sound effects. I have to admit I never really noticed their “musicality” before, but now that I think about it, it’s definitely a big presence on the show. And really makes you appreciate TOS even more.

I mean, the way nearly every button and device almost had it’s OWN unique sound effect is pretty extraordinary– especially compared to what you heard in a lot of other scifi back then.

Was there a “Wilhelm” in ST09? I need to listen again. What’s a Wilhelm? :-)

“Previews Exclusive”? What this mean – Previews Exclusive???

“can be ordered (at a discount) from TFAW.”

TFAW? What this mean – TFAW??

#34 – I have a subscription, too, and it seems to me that if anyone should be getting an “exclusive” it should be the subscribers!!!

Interesting. Things that most people take for granted (such as sound) are so important to the moviegoing and television experience. Sounds like Burtt has lots of respect for what Roddenberry did (as he should). I wish that one of the docs on the DVD would be about the sound ceations! That would be “fascinating” indeed!

34/39/41 The “exclusive” edition is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually the Diamond Comic Stores exclusive edition – on other magazines subscribers have been annoyed when they didn’t get the issue they saw on newsstands (we can’t win this one either way). In other words, comic stores can order a different cover through Diamond’s Previews magazine, which of course is an incentive for fans to buy issues from there…
Effectively there’s two options: subscribe, get it (usually) earlier than on newsstands at a reduced rate; or if you want the exclusive cover, buy it from your local comic book store and help keep that industry going!

#42 There is a documentary about Ben’s work on one version of the movie’s release – might be only the Blu-ray?

#38 – Wilhelm can be heard during the initial attack on the Kelvin…


Good news – thanks for the info!

Ben Burtt captured the true spirit of Trek sound effects. The recreated original transporter effect, with that sort of twitting sound when locking the signal before beaming, is really, really awesome.

With the exception of the transporter effect, I’m not convinced that Burtt captured the feel of Trek at all.
Perhaps it was the mix, or perhaps it was that what I heard was just too Star Wars-ish.

I loved the Sound FX in the new movie – just loved it


The only thing that sounded too “Star Wars-y” to me was the jellyfish sound effect.

In fact, everything ABOUT that ship felt too much like something out of the SW prequels for my taste.

I loved the sound effects in the new Trek movie

I loved the movie, I just dont want what has come from the past to be forgotten because of this new movie, I like for it to exist along with the rest of Trek, not take over.