A review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its sounds and how this can be achieved in a Voice Over Sydney studio.
At our voice over Sydney studio, we were delighted to find that Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens is a feast of all things audio; the ambience of a bustling desert marketplace, the dehumanised voiceovers of stormtroopers as they deliver genuinely hilarious satire in monotone, their words missing the mark as often as their blaster shots. Never once do the foley artists, mixing engineers or orchestra tiptoe around the nostalgia, for fear of treading on the franchise’s rich history. Rather, they embrace it wholeheartedly, breathing new life into a series loved of old. This celebration of the soundscape from the original ‘70s and ‘80s trilogy makes for a film-going experience that will please audience members, both young and old.
One minor critique which can be made, however, is of the digitally treated voice overs used to bring resistance droid BB-8 to life. We might have had a different approach in our voice over Sydney studio.
If R2-D2 is “a distant cousin” of BB-8, Pixar’s Wall-E must be an even closer relation. The similarities are undeniable; the inquisitive tilts of the head, the big eyes that follow the action in the same childlike, yet soulful, manner. Both characters fill the role of comedic relief (take BB-8’s use of a lighter as an improvised thumbs-up to protagonist Finn, for example) whilst simultaneously driving major turning points in the stories (Wall-E obviously more so, as title character). Yet these similarities of physical traits or roles are not the primary issue. BB-8’s catalogue of beeps and whirs highlights the resemblance most strongly; this tends to drag the audience out of the viewing experience.
It would be natural to assume that Ben Burtt, head of sound design in all six previous Star Wars feature films and credited with ‘voicing’ Wall-E, was involved. Bill Hader, credited as ‘BB-8 vocal consultant’ alongside fellow comedian Ben Schwartz, has told HitFix’s Drew McWeeny that, in reality, director JJ Abrams used a “sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by [Hader].” Not even Burtt’s team at Skywalker Sound were the instigators of BB-8’s ‘voiceovers.’ This certainly surprised us at our voice over Sydney studio.
The simple genius of Ben Burtt’s work lies in his reliance on the new. He prefers to sample, rather than depend on pre-existing libraries. The Skywalker Sound library, now an indispensable re
source for Hollywood, began as Burtt’s personal catalogue as he inhabited the Star Wars universe, amongst others. The Force Awakens is a film which celebrates the practical; explosions,puppetry, animatronics. It is ironic that the voiceovers for the character which perhaps most represents this in the sequel trilogy were created using an iPad, a medium typically built upon
pre-programmed plug- ins. Abrams, Hader and Schwartz replicated Burtt’s sounds, when they really should have been replicating his techniques. As a result, BB-8 comes across as a gimmick, more than a continuation of the Skywalker Sound legacy. This is the main thing we would have worked towards avoiding at our voice over Sydney studio. The animatronics successfully celebrate the old by creating something new, but they don’t have strong vocal support. Perhaps the sound design should have been left to the sound designers. At our Voice Over Sydney studio we can help you with any kind of Voice over sydney and sound design.