'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Sound Designer/Voice Actor Talks About 'Nomad Droids'

Talks About Adding the Familiar and New Sounds to the Galaxy Far, Far Away

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Pit droids and R2-D2 in "Nomad Droids" from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
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Pit droids and R2-D2 in "Nomad Droids" from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."

David Acord is the sound designer and re-recording mixer for "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." He also voices different characters for the series when called upon by supervising director Dave Filoni. I had the opportunity to talk with Acord about his work on the hit series.

What characters do you voice in "Nomad Droids"?

Dave Filoni cast me in three different voice roles in that episode. Matthew Wood (Supervising Sound Editor, General Grievous) is in the episode as well. It's always fun when you get to put on a different hat. "I voice a character named Albe Dewa who is the leader of the planet Balnab. Then, Matt and I both do voices for these little munchkin type people named the Jimbas. I also do the voice of the pit droids. They're the disc-shaped [robots] with the monocle for the eye from "Episode I." They've never spoken in a discernible language. Now they do. I used a funny little voice. It's an unexpected voice to be coming out of them.

How important do you think R2-D2 and C-3PO are to the "Star Wars" universe?

R2-D2 and C-3PO are vital to the "Star Wars" universe. They're the consistent thread through every TV show and movie. The franchise is really about them. They're the constant throughout the whole timeline. Everything seems to happen [around them]. They've often been the comic relief in the show and are relatable.

As sound editor, how much of the droid sounds do you control or mix?

I control the effects and mix portions of the show. I control all of R2-D2's head movements, motor drives, gadgets that spring out; C-3PO's elbow motors, walking cycles, and head turns. All that is me. Now I'm using Ben Burtt's Legacy "Star Wars" effects for consistency to fit in with the movies. We have a library at Skywalker Ranch of all things "Star Wars" and anything we've made here for other features. All of the Legacy "Star Wars" effects and the new "Clone Wars" ones are in a searchable database here.

What sort of challenges do you face being the sound editor for "The Clone Wars"?

There's two phases I do working on "The Clone Wars." There's the editorial and design phase, which is where we're given the episode as a video with a guide or rough track of the dialogue, music, and the effects that the picture department has assembled. Our job is to go through and flesh out all of the sound and find the appropriate background ambiences or create the right sound effects and vocals for the ships, weapons, or creatures for that episode. As you're probably aware from watching the show, there's always something new - a ship, a weapon, or something that has to be generated. There's always a portion of time in the editing room where I'm creating a new effect for the show. It is then logged into our database and if it ever comes up again I can select the same one. Part two of it is the mix phase.

How much time does it take to do sound for one episode of "The Clone Wars"?

It takes about two weeks. I begin mixing after I have all the effects assembled, the Foley team (who does footsteps, hand pats, gun rattles, and those sorts of things) turns their material in, Matthew [Wood] turns in dialogue, and the music is turned over by Kevin Kiner from LA. The next week I create a balance of all those elements. I'm the last stop and the final mix phase of the show before it airs.

For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:

Supervising Director Dave Filoni Tells Us What to Expect from Season 4 of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'

'Star Wars: The Clone Wars': Young Darth Vader Tells us What to Expect in Season 4

'Star Wars Super Collector's Wish Book Sixth Edition' Is Here!

Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! TV, Associated Content from Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, KISSOnline.com, and other national entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Gerard Butler, Brooke Shields, Brendan Fraser, Michelle Monaghan, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Gene Simmons, Ashley Tisdale, Selena Gomez and many more.

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