BB-8 Voice

Shortly after the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a cool little behind the scenes detail regarding the beloved ball droid BB-8 surfaced, specifically with regards to how the character’s voice was created. Sure, like R2-D2 and some of the other droids we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe, BB-8 communicates with a series of bleeps and bloops. But how those sounds were created for the movie is quite a fascinating story.

Thankfully, enough time has passed that comedian Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, House of Lies) is now able to open up a bit about the creative process for giving BB-8 his voice. Bill Hader only briefly touched upon this behind the scenes information before, but Schwartz dives in and tells us exactly what kind of work he did for The Force Awakens.

Here’s the video explaining how the BB-8 voice came into existence from Reddit:

For those of you who can’t watch the video, we’ll explain the process. Schwartz says that while J.J. Abrams was on a break from the movie, he asked for some help in figuring out how to give BB-8 some warmth and humor. The droid really needed to be engaging due to how much interaction there was between him and Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). So how did they do it?

Well, the first attempt involved Schwartz and Abrams (presumably Hader as well) actually writing real dialogue for the droid to say in these scenes. Schwartz would record the lines, and then they would be sent to the post-production sound crew at Lucasfilm to turn into bleeps and bloops for BB-8 to say. However, they determined that it sounded too much like a human voice was turned into sound effects.

So for a second try, they had Schwartz say the dialogue into a microphone hooked up to a computer and synthesizer. That wasn’t working too well, so then they just had him try to say the bleeps and bloops himself with the same tools. This seems to be what informed BB-8’s voice the most, because even though Schwartz says that he has no idea how much of his voice was used in The Force Awakens, he was told that the editors used the dialogue they wrote and recorded while cutting scenes together.

In the end whatever work Schwartz did to help make the droid lovable worked pretty well. In each of the several screenings I attended, audiences absolutely loved BB-8, and they audibly felt for him when that little sad moan sounds off after learning that Poe Dameron isn’t coming back. I hope that the eventual Blu-ray and DVD release has more about the making of BB-8’s voice and includes some of the recordings that Schwartz did to help bring him to life.

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