For lovers of sound design – cinematic or otherwise – Star Wars is always good reason to nerd out. But Rogue One is something different, as the first film to be a standalone or spinoff. On the music side, it meant a new composer who wasn’t John Williams (Michael Giacchino). But perhaps the less known story is that sound, too, got a new direction.

Filling the shoes of Ben Burtt is no easy task. There’s probably no Hollywood sound creator better known than Burtt. And as with any Star Wars film, you have the unique challenge of trying to do foley work for things that don’t exist in the real world.

But here’s where Star Wars has given us a legacy. Even though computer tech gives you the theoretical ability to produce any sound you can imagine, that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest or most artistically satisfying route to making a sound. And the unique talent of Skywalker Sound for finding sounds in the real world is one that can impact just about anyone working in sound – whether you’re imagining a scifi robot or just an interesting drum kit.

All of this means that Sound on Sound have given us a terrific watch. They spend half an hour speaking to the men and women who gave us Rogue One sound.

So what you get are details like how to do foley for Stormtroopers and how a combination of real/processed, recorded/digitally modified sound of a door gives you a droid.

“Believability” is an interesting quality I think to musical sound, too – so in music, making something “gritty” and real on one hand, or imaginary and fanciful and even impossible on the other, gives you a spectrum of ways of playing with the mind’s perception and memory.

Also, I think it bears saying that Sound on Sound generally remains a pillar of sound recording and music technology journalism. It’s simply terrific that they’re going out and doing this, and not just product vendors. Kudos to one of the better outlets in the business. Oh yeah, and you know we’re totally jealous y’all got to go do this! (And it’s relevant to electronic music, too, as I know this film inspired a lot of us, as this dominated my social media chats and feeds over Christmastime!)


Rogue One’s gritty, war film aesthetic is a real departure for the Star Wars franchise, and this realism is born out in the sound design. We visited the iconic Skywalker Sound to talk to Supervising Sound Editors Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood about world creation, making sci-fi weapons sound realistic, and how some unexpected sampling brought K-2SO — the film’s sardonic and loveable droid — to life!

We also discover the secrets of Foley artist Ronni Brown and Foley Mixer Frank Aglieri-Rinella who reveal how they made the Rogue One stormtroopers sound more menacing.

To hear the final effect of all the techniques described in this feature, you can order Rogue One now in Digital HD or Blu-Ray/DVD: