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How to create Lightsaber sound effects from Star Wars

1/06/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

The lightsaber sound from Star Wars was created by legendary sound designer Ben Burtt. He combined the sounds of a 35mm projector and a 70s tube TV to create one of the most iconic sounds in movie history.

In this episode I try and use the same techniques Ben Burtt did and create a similar analog driven sound design for my very own lightsaber.

Finding a tube TV wasn't hard but couldn't locate an old projector with twin motors but I was able to replicate a similar sound with a square-wave generator.

My advice would be to walk around your house with a mic and recorder and see what kind of sounds you get from all the electrical appliances. (just be mindful that getting too close to certain electromagnetic fields could put your gear & sd cards in danger, never happened to me, but that's what I heard can happen in certain cases)

Older appliances seemed to work better for me as I got a lot of interesting sounds by recording the vibration of the their electrical transformers.

Another tip would be to go to antique stores with an audio recorder and record all the old interesting mechanical devices from yesteryear. You may even run into an old 35mm projector!

After making this episode I find myself hearing a lot more electrical hums wherever I go. It never hurts to bring an audio recorder with you at all times!

A great resource I found was the "The Lightsaber Sound Cookbook" which really goes in depth about the whole process of creating these kind of sounds. Some of the technical detail went over my head but I'd rather it be too much information than not enough! -
Shanks FX -

Here are some more links from some of the Ben Burtt video excerpts seen in this episode.

  • Ben Burtt creates the sounds for Wall-E -->HERE
  • Sounds in Space - Lightsaber Sounds--> HERE

Also, check out our episode that shows you how to create the original Lightsaber effect.


Music by: Big Fok | In association with: PBS Digital Studios

Text and video via Shanks FX

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