“The Force of Sound” Explores How Pizza Stones, Garlic Presses, and Chicken Noises Created the Soundscape of The Last Jedi
ABC News Features has just posted “The Force of Sound,” a 26-minute documentary about the sound design for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The documentary follows sound editor and designer Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce, both of whom received an Oscar nomination for sound editing for The Last Jedi, as they go about their work at Skywalker Sound. It also includes interviews with director Rian Johnson and the Foley artists, Margie O’Malley and Ronni Brown, who create the movie’s practical sound effects.
“[Sound] allows you to be immersed in the world that you see on the screen,” explains Coya Elliot, a sound effects editor. “And sometimes, ironically, if the audience is a part of that world, they may not even realize what they’re hearing.”
“If your work’s invisible, that means that you’re doing your job properly,” says Ren Klyce.
The documentary spends a fair amount of time with Skywalker Sound’s Foley artists, who create practical sound effects with dozens of different props. “Ren Klyce and our sound editors will go through and they’ll design the big-ticket items —you know, ships, and creatures, and ambiences, and machines—and those will all be cut and edited together,” says Matthew Wood. “But then there’s all the very specific [sounds]—you have the cloth, and you have the gear on characters, handling a lightsaber, BB-8 rolling around. And all these things that have to be made.”
You see how the Foley artists create “friendly” noises for BB-8, jingle wind chimes for the Crait crystal foxes, stomp on “an old Mac and a pizza stone” for the Millennium Falcon, and pick up a garlic press for the lightsaber sounds. “In characters that are digital like this,” Wood explains, “Foley is 100% necessary. It gives them weight; it adds so much to the visual effects.”
They also discuss the sound effects during Admiral Holdo’s sacrifice, and why they opted for silence rather than a traditional explosion. “The silent moments are really a great discovery,” explains Klyce, “We arrived at a lot of them in the mix, and those came from Rian, actually … He was the one who drove it. We get to take credit for it, but really, he created that.”
Lastly, the documentary also covers the sound design for the porgs. Ren Klyce has spoken about the process before, which involved turkey calls, chicken noises, and more. But here you do get to see how the chicken noises were sped up and made into the high-pitched porg sounds.
“The Force of Sound” is currently streaming on ABCNews.com/features, the ABC News apps, and streaming platforms like Roku, AppleTV and Xbox One. It will also be available on Hulu later this week.
(Featured image: screengrab)
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