The studio of Star Wars fame uses caverns under San Francisco Bay to create unique audio recordings for films.
Between now and its opening on Labor Day 2013, the new span of the multibillion dollar San Francisco Bay Bridge has been turned into a sound-effects generator unlike any other.
Skywalker Sound, the audio division of Lucasfilm that is famous for such films as the Star Wars series, has joined in a partnership with the California Department of Transportation to create audio impressions of the bridge.
Crawling into one of the concrete pillars sunk beneath the San Francisco Bay, the Skywalker Sound team is firing blanks from a pistol inside the cavernous structure to record a sonic impulse response, or an audio impression. The California Department of Transportation is looking for another way to preserve the legacy of the bridge, through sonic imaging and acoustics. Skywalker, which is owned by Disney since their purchase of Lucasfilm this past October, is using the recordings to build their audio database for future films and other projects.
Through the use of their state of the art equipment, and the acoustics of the bridge, Skywalker is able to record a full range of audible frequencies. Back at the studio, they can then digitally remove the sound of the gunshot, leaving them with a complete acoustical audio impression.
Using their audio programs, Skywalker can plug in any other sound that they want, and it will automatically sound as if it had been recorded in the echo-y location under the bridge. This would allow them to use the audio in any number of applications, including use in movie scenes that may involve caves or subterranean underworlds. Be sure to keep an ear-out next time you’re sitting in the theatre, things aren’t always as they appear.