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Ben Burtt
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    (July 12, 1948- )
    Born in Jamesville, New York
    Sound engineer/film editor/director
    Won Oscars for Best Sound Effects Editing for 'Star Wars' (1977), 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981), 'E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial' (1982) and 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' (1989)
    Also served as sound designer for 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1978), 'Alien' (1979), 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980), 'Return of the Jedi' (1983), 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' (1984), 'Howard the Duck' (1986), 'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' (1999), 'Attack of the Clones' (2002), 'Revenge of the Sith' (2005), 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' (2008), 'Wall-E' (2008), 'Star Trek' (2009), 'Super 8' (2011) and 'Star Trek Into Darkness' (2013)
    Edited the three 'Star Wars' prequels
    Directed the IMAX documentaries 'Blue Planet' (1990), 'Destiny in Space' (1994) and 'Special Effects: Anything Can Happen' (1996)
    He noted the irony that he majored in physics but 'I ended up in a world of complete make-believe which continually violated the laws of physics.'
    One of his trademarks is to include in each of his films the 'Wilhelm scream' (a scream, probably performed by Sheb Wooley, that was part of the Warner Brothers sound effects library).
    J.J. Abrams criticized his initial effects for the weapons in the 'Star Trek' reboot for sounding too much like what he had done in 'Star Wars.'
    He said he realized he could combine his interests in science and movies when he was assigned to escort Arthur C. Clarke around campus and they had a conversation about the making of '2001: A Space Odyssey.'
    He won the National Student Film Festival (1970).
    One of his more subtle sound effects is the 'audio black hole': a moment of absolute silence before an explosion or similar event.
    He makes a cameo appearance in 'Return of the Jedi' as an Imperial officer who gets knocked off a balcony -- at which point he does his own imitation of the Wilhelm scream.
    He said, 'When I had the opportunity to do the first Star Wars movie, I realized, here’s a film I’ve sort of wanted to do all my life — it’s the kind of movie I enjoyed as a kid.'
    Some 'Star Wars' sound effects and how Burtt created them:
    Lightsabers: static from a TV set between channels combined with the hum from a 35-mm film projector
    Blasters: hitting the guy wire of a radio tower with a hammer
    TIE fighter engines: the roar of an elephant, slowed down and combined with a car driving fast on a rain-slicked road
    R2-D2's speech: vocalizations by Burtt run through an ARP 2600 synthesizer
    Darth Vader breathing: Burtt breathing through a scuba regulator

Credit: C. Fishel

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