Sound Editors Talk ‘Rogue One’ Production Secrets And Princess Leia’s ‘Hope’

Skywalker sound editor Matthew Wood and Christopher Scarabosio shared a few new ‘Rogue One‘ production secrets with Yahoo Movies this week. The veteran designers spoke about the creation of princess Leia’s ‘Hope’ dialog and how a tiny mouse droid was revived from a library of sounds. Read on for more.



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s daily grosses continue to grow internationally putting it on a path to 1 billion worldwide and $450M offshore before the fifth weekend at the box-office.


While the visual effects of the film have been recently praised, those sounds are pretty darn special too. We can hear the base hum of a Star Destroyer, the shrieking sound of an Imperial TIE-Fighter and the rapid fire sound of an AT-ACT (similar to the classic AT-AT). Without legendary composer John Williams’ rousing score in the stand alone spin-off, it was up to Skywalker Sound to drive home the familiar nostalgic sounds heard in the original films. caught up with Skywalker Sound’s Matthew Wood and Christopher Scarabosio, who spoke briefly about their work on the first Star Wars spin-off film and how they blended new elements with the familiar sounds of the 1977 flick.



What were your respective jobs on Rogue One? 

Matt Wood: Chris and I were both supervising sound editors, but our tasks were split. So basically the easiest way to say it would be, Chris worked on sound effects, and I worked on dialogue. And we both have a huge knowledge of Star Wars lore. Ben Burtt [the sound designer on the original Star Wars films] has been a mentor to both of us.

Ben Burtt created all the iconic Star Wars sounds: Darth Vader’s breathing, the lightsaber whoosh, R2-D2’s beeps. How does your work connect to his?

Matt Wood: Skywalker Sound, the sound division of Lucasfilm, was basically created around the work that Ben Burtt had done in the ’70s and ’80s. He’s still there, and he created a really vast library of Star Wars that is loved the world around. It’s our challenge to come up with new sounds to populate Star Wars, and then know when to play the old stuff and keep it connected. Like, you can drop in a Rogue One Blu-ray against Empire Strikes Back against The Force Awakens, and they’re all going to sound like they’re from the same universe.



Did any sounds from the original Star Wars sound library make it into Rogue One?

Matt Wood: Absolutely. For instance, that little mouse droid that Chewbacca screams at on the Death Star in the original New Hope. When K-2SO is retrieving the data out of the other Imperial droid so he can get a map of the station, you see a mouse droid go by. And that’s where we were like, “Well, we definitely have to play that original sound. We can’t make something new for that!” So those little details are something we try to put in as much as we can from the original. We have so much new material in there as well, so we’ve got to connect you back to it, and sound has that great ability to do that. It’s almost like music — how it can make you feel like you felt when you first [heard] it.



What would you describe as the signature sounds of this film?

Chris Scarabosio: I’d say that the three ships — Krennic’s ship, Bodhi’s cargo ship, and the U-Wing — those ships all have what I feel are signature sounds. And then there are the weapons: Chirrut’s weapon, Baze’s weapon, all the rebel weapons. Then K-2, the new droid, and Bor Gullet, who was a new creature.



Carrie Fisher, who died suddenly last month, has obviously been on Star Wars fans’ minds. What was your role in creating the Princess Leia scene at the very end?

Matt Wood: First off, we kind of knew what the script was going to be for that final line, how they wanted to put the button on the whole movie and then connect it right up to New Hope. So I got a call to try to find the original tapes of anything that Carrie had done from ’77. I found the original quarter-inch rolls in an archives box at Lucasfilm, and I just transferred every single take of the “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” scene, the hologram scene from the original film. And there were a lot of takes. So I grabbed all that.
The machine that it was played back on doesn’t really exist that much anymore, so I was able to grab the special heads for that and transfer it into Pro Tools and just go through [the takes]. And John Gilroy and John Swartz, the producer, found a take that they thought really worked for that. So it is an original line from Carrie in 1977. [Producer and effects supervisor] John Knoll’s department had the main challenge of making that scene work visually, and I know that he mentioned that Carrie had seen almost the final project of what we had done there and actually liked it.

That’s so cool that you found all of the alternate takes!

Matt Wood: It’s always fun listening to that stuff. Carrie Fisher used to always joke about those particular lines that were really tough to say, and I heard her original takes on those. She’d flub every fifth one or something, and it was funny because it really is a mouthful! And then she had to come back and do it again because there was another setup that I had found — they must have wanted to get two different angles, so they had to do it all again — and she was like, “I’m sorry!” when she would mess up. It was really cute.



You can view the entire interview here.



May the force be with us!



+ posts

3 thoughts on “Sound Editors Talk ‘Rogue One’ Production Secrets And Princess Leia’s ‘Hope’

  • January 13, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Funny how I read someone say “Hope.” did not sound like Carrie. When it definitely was.

    • January 13, 2017 at 4:15 am

      She had a number of takes, some of them with less of the “faking a British accent poorly” as she described.

    • January 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Yeah that’s funny. I assumed that it was an old recording and I was right on that occasion.
      However I didn’t think her smile was right after she said it!

Comments are closed.