The sounds of "Star Wars" visit Lee

The sounds of "Star Wars" visit Lee

photo by Kristen Johnson

Ben Burtt, best known for his sound creations in the "Star Wars" franchise, was one of the guests who spoke to the students of Lee University for Celebration 2016.

Burtt is a Hollywood Sound Designer who has won numerous awards, including two Oscars, for his work on “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Fans of the “Star Wars” franchise flocked to the Communications building as early as 7 a.m. to ensure a seat. The room was full by 8:30 a.m. and no more students were allowed in for the 9 a.m. seminar.

Junior Lee student, Mathew Randall, who sat in during the seminar, said his favorite work by Burtt was “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

“I really appreciated his digital editing technique,” Randall said.

During the seminar, Burtt spoke about how music influenced him when he was a child.

“My mother used to take me to the library,” Burtt said. “When my mom put music on, I would act out stories all over the room. There was an influence of music in my life which came from my mother.”

Burtt also said his father gave him his first tape recorder, which he would later use to record sounds for "Star Wars." As a child, he recorded radio signals from his Grandfather’s attic.

“I could listen to signals from all over the world,” Burtt said. “I took my tape recorder up there once as a kid and recorded about 15 minutes. That few minutes of recording I have used that in every Star Wars film somewhere.”

According to Burrt, he was in film school at UFC School of Cinematic Arts when  George Lucas, the creator of the “Star Wars” and "Indiana Jones” franchises, discovered him.

Burtt said Lucas was searching for a young sound designer who had yet to be exposed to the business. He found that in Burtt.

Dustin Cawood, Assistant Professor of Digital Media and a long time friend of Burtt’s, said that he met Burtt at Pixar Studios while working on the film “WALL-E” as well as working at Skywalker Sound.

“Ben and I are close friends,” Cawood said. “He’s like second family to me.”

While he was at Lee, Cawood asked Burtt to speak with Digital Media students. They asked Burtt about why he decided to come speak at Lee.

“I have a connection with professor Cawood. He’s a close friend,” Burtt said. “We’ve worked on a lot of projects together, and I enjoy speaking to students. I knew that this was a faith based school and I wanted to come see what that was like and learn something myself.”

Burtt discussed his faith and how it applied to his own career. He said that working in the film industry and being a Christian was not always easy.

“I always found that there were very few Christians around me in the world that I was in,” Burtt said. “I always felt a conflict with the industry and the truths of Christianity.”

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