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Archived News-March 2006

Week 1

Saturday March 04, 2006
Homing Beacon #156

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived and today we get to talk about the sound effects of Star Wars. "From the beginning of the first Star Wars film, George Lucas always encouraged the sound development to start in pre-production," says Ben Burtt, Sound Designer and Co-Editor of Revenge of the Sith. "That way, sound is being talked about when you first see the artwork, and sound effects and concepts for sound are there from the beginning as the films were shot. Once the film is being edited, sound is put in right away." Though that is the tradition with Star Wars movies, the standard Hollywood model had been to scramble to develop sound deep in the post-production period. "In that case, there may be only a short amount of time left to work out all of the concepts; but for us, the sound has really been developed over a long period of time."

Like many elements in Episode III, the sound design is a mix of new and old as the Star Wars saga bridges together, and the prequel trilogy segues into the classics. Burtt was very much cognizant of that as he began putting together elements for the opening space battle. "I knew when those ships came in that they were going to be the new Jedi starfighters, which were related to the TIE fighters from A New Hope. I felt the sound should have some continuity, so I started working with the old TIE fighter sounds and adding NASCAR sounds to it to develop something that would hint at the direction of the technology."

Burtt describes there being about a thousand different sound projects for the film, not including foley effects like footsteps. In addition, the sound crew also provided performances both large (Matthew Wood as General Grievous) and small (Burtt as the Niemoidian captain). "We're a small operation, a sound crew of 9 people, so we tend to use ourselves as characters," says Burtt. "Matt and I played in the recent films probably about 30 or 40 incidental characters -- battle droids, Nemoidians, Gungans, Utapaun pit crews, R2-D2, all kinds of robots, and we've enjoyed that because it gives us the feeling that we can really put our performances into the film."

Since the first Star Wars, Ben has been the "voice" of R2-D2, combining synthesizer and organic sounds with his own voice to create the distinctive beeps and boops of the beloved astromech droid. "We revived some of our old equipment for this film," he says. "We pulled out an old ARP synthesizer from under my house, and it was all moldy. Howie Hammerman, our engineer, got it working again so we did lots of new Artoo for this."

The combination of many disparate and sometimes surprising sound sources has been a Ben Burtt trademark, and it continued with this final installment of the saga. "You look at General Grievous' wheel bike, and it's nasty, loud and dangerous. I thought a chainsaw would be perfect," says Burtt. Likewise, the low rumble of the very first Star Destroyer we see on screen is actually the filtered sound of Niagara Falls. And the sound of Vader's heartbeat while he is undergoing his final transformation into a Sith Lord who is more machine than man?

It was a sonic boom emitted by the space shuttle, as heard in northern California.

Posted by: Rebel Racer

Friday March 03, 2006
Star Wars Podcasts

Jeff Roney sent me an e-mail about his site and the Star Wars podcasts he is doing.

I am the host of a Star Wars and other topic podcast called RoneyZone Radio.  So far, there are 26 episodes ranging from Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Finding God in Star Wars, Homelessness, Unplanned Pregnancy, an interview Duane "Dog, The Bounty Hunter" Chapman, and much more.  I am very proud of the show and want to invite to listen to a few episodes at and let me know what you think.

These podcasts are quite good and I would recommend them highly! They also have a very funny, Star Wars parody called 'Tatooine TV' and a Star Wars fan film called 'Revenge of the Socks'. Be sure to go have a look!

Posted by: Jedi Power

Friday March 03, 2006
Path to the Force - Episode 59

Today we have Episode 59 of Star Wars Galaxies-Path to the Force which has been created by Nathan Ciprick. You will be able to access these stories through the Comics section. Check out the latest episode!

Star Wars Galaxies-Path to the Force-Episode 59

Be sure to join us next week for the sixtieth episode of Star Wars Galaxies-Path to the Force. Then join us every week as we continue to follow the adventures of the Wookiee E'nac from the Star Wars Galaxies videogame in the form of Gamics!

Posted by: Jedi Power

Thursday March 02, 2006
LEGO Star Wars II-Better Than Before

In April 2005, LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game Force-pushed its way onto store shelves everywhere to prove itself one of gaming's most pleasant surprises of the year -- and one of its biggest hits. Now at over 3.3 million copies sold worldwide (and still going strong), NPD Group's No. 13 bestseller of 2005 has delighted gamers young and old with its unique mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and interplanetary adventure. Hot off the game's amazing success, developer Traveller's Tales and its parent company TT Games have joined forces with LucasArts to release LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for multiple platforms this fall. And with several notable improvements to an already stellar formula, there's a lot more to love about this sequel.

"There are so many things that are better, it's hard to quantify," says David Perkinson, producer at LucasArts. Perkinson cites his favorite improvements as the extended role of vehicles (including playable mini-kits), customizable characters, a better camera, player-specific attacks (including new Force powers), a greater number of weapons, and an adaptive difficulty setting. All while retaining the original charm that so characterized the first LEGO Star Wars.

For more information, be sure to read the entire article!

Also, be sure to read the full review from IGN!

Posted by: Jedi Power