Video: Apple Shares a ‘Behind the Mac’ Film to Commemorate Star Wars Day

BY Anu Joy

Published 4 May 2022

Apple has shared a new “Behind the Mac” film to celebrate May 4th, also known as Star Wars Day. The video details how Skywalker Sound uses Macs to create the sound effects for Star Wars. Skywalker Sound is the sound mixing and music recording division of Lucasfilm. Some of its projects include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic World.

While Star Wars is revered as an iconic movie franchise, not many know that the Mac plays an important role in bringing some of its most memorable sounds to life. Apple’s newest Behind the Mac video shows off how the company’s computers are involved in the making of Star Wars movies.  

Skywalker Sound’s studio is equipped with the following Mac products — 130 Mac Pro racks, 50 MacBook Pros, 50 iMacs, and 50 Mac mini computers. All the aforementioned devices have Pro Tools installed, which are linked remotely to a central machine room. Besides, the production team is provided with iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.

Benjamin Burtt Jr., popularly known as Ben Burtt, the sound designer of the original Star Wars films as well as the prequels, reminisces how he had started out with a Macintosh SE, which was released way back in 1987. Burtt details his experience with sound editing on a Mac:

“All the experience I had on the Mac immediately gave me training for what came along in cutting digital sound. I started cutting using a Mac with Final Cut in the late ‘90s, and now have four Mac computers. Each handles a different process: one for picture editing, sound editing, manuscript writing, I’m completely surrounded.”

Hardcore fans will remember the ominous sound made by the laser gates during the climactic lightsaber duel in “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.” Burtt shares that he had recorded the sound made by the wobbly blades of a broken ceiling fan, transforming it to sound like menacing lasers.

Supervising sound editor and sound designer Al Nelson takes a trip down memory lane to talk about the now ancient PowerBook. Nelson says that he still uses old software to edit some sounds. He snaps back to the present and adds that iPhone recordings are “perfectly useable” in a professional setting.

Sound editor Baihui Yang highlights the convenience of having a MacBook Pro on-site. She says that the Pro Tools session is easy to use on the field, allowing her to record sounds and stitch them together on the fly. Keyboard Maestro and Matchbox software are some of the applications she uses regularly.

Advice For Filmmakers

In the video, the Skywalker Sound artists also share advice for budding as well as professional filmmakers. Here’s what Burtt has to say:

“I tell young people who want to work with sound in movies, ‘You should listen to the world around you and build a sound effects collection.’ Get a recording and classify it, because any time you build a library of sound, you are making creative choices. The other thing is that because there are plenty of inexpensive applications that you can have access to now on your iPad or your MacBook, that you can actually do all kinds of cutting and sound-mixing at home.”

Gary Rydstrom, a seven-time Oscar-winning sound designer, talks about how you can start your filmmaking journey equipped with an iPhone:

“If you’re interested in sound or filmmaking, you can record 4K+ video on your iPhone. There’s no excuse. The stuff that’s part of our day-to-day lives is the same stuff you need to record sound and make movies. That’s the real revolution. Ultimately, it will democratize the whole process.”

You can check out the latest Behind the Mac video below:

[Via Apple Newsroom]