Lazy Sound Editing in Star Wars

Now I don’t know about you but I thought that Skywalker Sound, the audio company that brought us THX sound, were supposed to be the Dons of the audio world. Certainly their track record has been exceptional and many would say that Ben Burtt, the legendary Sound Designer from the Starwars movies and much more has been an influence for them over the years in their approach to making sounds sound cool. So where is all this heading? Well I was watching my Starwars Episode 4 Special Edition DVD whilst having some soup for lunch and it was the Cantina Scene where Luke and Ben meet Han Solo for the first time. I was listening to the dialogue and something didn’t feel right on the audio side so I turned it up and paid full attention to it. So what did I hear? Well how about a line of dialogue with a click at the beginning of the first word? Sounds like someone forgot to edit on Zero Crossing to me. Also the gating was very poorly done – sometimes you’d hear the background noise jumping up very noticeably just before the dialogue. Also the overall tone was wrong, I know Han Solo was sitting in an alcove but the sound of his voice felt wrong – certainly when you compare it to Ben and Luke’s.

I did some searching on the web and apparently my findings are the tip of the iceberg. For analysis of all the changes, both video and audio check this link out. I’m surprised to be honest – I would have expected much higher standards from Lucasfilm. It’s no wonder some fans are looking forward to the impending release of the un-altered (well technically this should be less altered) original trilogy on DVD.