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The Sound of 'Indiana Jones' (2003)

Ben Burtt reveals which sounds he and his team at Skywalker Sound recorded to incorporate into the Indiana Jones trilogy.




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Ben Burtt reveals which sounds he and his team at Skywalker Sound recorded to incorporate into the Indiana Jones trilogy.

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Documentary | Short





Release Date:

21 October 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Indiana Jonesin äänimaailma  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Features Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) See more »

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No mention of Wilhelm
3 July 2008 | by (Rijswijk (ZH), The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Steven Spielberg introduces this short documentary by mentioning the first impressive sound effect created for the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark (the call of some kind of exotic bird) and leaves the rest of the thirteen minute running time for 'Father of Skywalker Sound' Ben Burtt to explains where some of the most memorable sounds in all three Indiana Jones pictures were derived from. Most of the answers being quite unusual and unexpected.

He begins ordinary enough: instead of using stock recordings of whips, Burt and his recording partner Gary Sommers recored all knew whip sounds (though the recordings done with Harrison Ford cracking the whip himself were not used because of too much interference). To emphasize the exaggerated comic book style of the picture, the sound of Indy's gun is actually a 30-30 Winchester rifle. The basis of the giant boulder sound Giant Boulder is a an old Honda civic Station Wagon on a gravel road (without the motor running). The body blows and punches are whacking a loose pile of leather jackets and baseball bats with a bat. Burtt goes on to explain that the real snakes didn't make very much noise, so he Ben used his wife's cheese casserole to simulate their slithering movements (with some wet sponges mixed in). Sacrilegiously enough, The lid of the Ark is really the lid of Burt's own toilet tank top (which he saved in his own sound archive when he moved to another place) while the same old ARP 2600 synthesizer he used to voice R2D2 was reprogrammed to produce the humming of the ark. The ark spirits are cries of different animals, humans dolphin and sea-lions run through a vocoder. The sparkling and beams came from a recording of the original Frankenstein laboratory equipment (from the 1931 film, not from the Victor F. himself presumably).

Less time is spend on explaining the noises behind the remaining two Indy's. Temple of Doom incorporate some animals and birds recorded on location in Birma. The mine car chase chase was recorded at night in Disneyland when Ben and Gary recorded all the different roller coasters without any music on or other sounds interfering. The rats in the Last Crusade were apparently voiced by irritated chickens (their clucking sped up on his keyboard). And the floor splitting in the finale is, believe it or not, Ben rubbing on a balloon while the boulders falling were recorded near Skywalker Ranch where Ben and his team just made their own small scale avalanche to record. Mr. B. ends this documentary by slipping in how many Academy Awards he received for his work on the Jones adventures, saying Indiana Jones has been very good to him. You see, at the time this interview was recorded, chances of a fourth Indiana Jones Instalment didn't seem very likely yet. Indeed, even though Burtt seemed to have left Lucasfilm for Pixar after completing Revenge of the Sith to voice WALL-E, he still find time to work on The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for old times sake, and incorporated possibly the most visible/audible Wilhelm scream in any of the franchise yet. Sadly, the story of Wilhelm goes unmentioned in this documentary...

8 out of 10

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