Sound Editor (Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Clone Wars, Rebels)
Interview: February 2010
How did you get started in the sound engineering/movie business??
I was a musician in college, in couple of bands, and we recorded a lot of original music, mainly for our friends and each other. I suppose that was my introduction in sound recording/editing/mixing. As for the film business, I was working in the Special Effects department on 12 Monkeys in 1994-1995. On set, I got to be pretty tight with the sound mixer, Jay Meagher, talking about sound and sound mixing. He graciously hired me on to his next 4 or 5 projects as his assistant.
How did you get started at Lucasfilm?
Matthew Wood. After a couple of years of knocking on their door (so to speak), and two or three interviews later… I was hired as an assistant on Attack of the Clones.
You’re currently sound designer for Clone Wars. Can you tell what you exactly have to do for this series?
The “sound designer” is basically in charge of the sound effects for a show. The designer selects, creates, records, etc. sound effects to create a specific tone for the project.
In 2009 you won a Golden Reel Award for Clone Wars. Did you feel winning that award was a crown on your work?
It is certainly great to be recognized by your peers for your work! I’m very proud of the work we do and of the people I work with; it’s a collaborative process after all.
You worked on the 2004 DVD version of the Star Wars original trilogy. For this, you had to go through the archives. Were there notable discoveries you made while going through all those old takes?
Ha! Yes, indeed. Matthew Wood and I had a lot of fun pouring over alternate takes of famous lines from the show. I think the one that stood out to me was an exchange between George Lucas and Alec Guinness. It was an ADR (looping) session and George was directing Alec’s performance for lines like “Use the Force, Luke…” That was kind of surreal.
At Skywalker Sound you must have met the legendary Ben Burrt, who won 2 Oscars. Has he taught you important things and functioned as a mentor to you?
I owe quite a bit to Ben Burtt, obviously. Ben is a good friend and has been a great guide and a source of encouragement during my time as designer on Clone Wars.
You have done a wide range of voices for Star Wars and Clone Wars. Do you consider yourself a voice actor as well?
And how do you create all these voices? Is there a lot of computer enhancement involved?
Well, I have spent time learning the craft of voice acting at classes San Francisco and Oakland. I have a lot to learn still, I have great respect for our voice actors on Clone Wars; those guys are amazing! The voices I’ve done range from robotic (A-4D and GH-7) to creature (Rotta and Pilf Mukmuk) to human (Senate guards and the Coronet Captain). The droid voices are definitely processed, at least somewhat, to give them that classic Star Wars droid ring. The creature voices have a little less process, usually just a pitch change.
About the characters you have voiced; did you get to choose them yourself? Or were the assigned to you?
Generally, you audition for a voice role. A couple of characters were sort of assigned to me, though. GH-7 for instance: Ben asked me to take a crack at it, which I did. George then signed off on it, and it made it into the movie. A-4D was a role written with me in mind by Henry Gilroy and Dave Filoni as a foil for General Grievous (Matt Wood).
I bet you saw Return of the Jedi back in 1983. 25 years later, in 2008, you voiced Rotta, his son. That must have been something you would have never, ever expected?
I did! Multiple times… No, I never would have expected that I would have anything at all to do with Star Wars on a professional level, nevertheless voice a character!