– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Image via Disney/Lucasfilm

Image via Disney/Lucasfilm

Droids have an interesting creative process surrounding them. Not only are they an amazing feat of mechanical and digital technology, but there’s a whole lot that goes into designing the voices, which complements their respective personalities. R2-D2 was the big game-changer in sound design. Yes, he may have been a droid, but through a series of beeps and modified baby-like sounds, sound designer Ben Burtt was able to imbue him with an unprecedented amount of life for what amounts to a bucket of bolts.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, thefilmmakers were given the difficult task of not only creating a droid that could match R2-D2 in memorability, but creating something that stands completely on its own in a completely different way as R2. The end result was BB-8, who ended up being just as much of a spitfire as R2, but in a completely unique way. There were a variety of factors that contributed to this. The first was his unique soccer ball-like appearance, his relationship with Poe Dameron, and of course, his voice.

Like R2, his voice was a mixture of synthetic sounds mixed in with organic voices, which up until now I only thought came from actor Bill Hader. Well, it turns out I was only half right. In a new video released via the official Star Wars Twitter account (a video that will be in the Star Wars Collector’s Edition Blu-ray), we saw actor Ben Schwartz (who most may recognize as Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec) laying down a track that the sound designers used as a guideline for the end result, which incorporated Bill Hader’s own vocal talents.

Check out the video below:

As with all creative endeavors, there is hardly ever a specific throughline to the process. Often ideas and processes end up being tangents of tangents of tangents before a method is finally nailed down, and based on what supervising sound editor Matthew Wood had to say, this is also true with how BB-8’s voice was made.

“The first iteration of BB-8, [director J.J. Abrams] had…Ben Schwartz come in and fill in where BB-8 would speak. That gave us a nice clear path of conveying emotion, and where he was supposed to speak.”

“[The other sound designers] both came up with ideas that had a talkbox with a tactile interface. So we had Bill Hader come in. We sat with Bill and recorded with J.J. controlling the synthesizer, which he really like, because it was almost like a performance tool, which gave us a huge library of material.”

Goes to show how even the most under-appreciated jobs in filmmaking are sometimes the most interesting.

What do you think of this fact? Do you enjoy seeing how something like BB-8’s voice was accomplished, and will you be buying the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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SOURCE: Star Wars

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.