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The Wilhelm scream

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During my first few days at Lucasfilm in 1988 I sat with  John Sinclair, who had boxes of tapes of movies that Ben Burtt had collected with the Wilhelm scream. Ben wanted all the screams cut together into one montage. John edited all the screams from the movies into one tape. It was pretty funny. I have a copy of that original 1936 session with the actor. I don't think the tape was lost as such. It's more like it was re-discovered by someone else, since Ben had a copy of it and I made a copy of that. There are other screams used from that session, but none so famous as that one. I used to do a talk about post sound that included those clips of Wilhelm, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.


Ben had other named sound effects such as the Bengal Ricochet, a bullet ricochet that was heard over and over in movies. That's part of what got Ben started in sound. As a kid, he heard these sound effects over and over in movies and wondered what was going on. As he got into sound, he collected and identified these sounds.

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Well, the podcast says they think they know who it was.


Interesting. Ben's copy of the scream says it was recorded in 1936. The podcast says 1951. Ben made a couple of shorts about the Wilhelm scream and other sounds back then for himself.  One of the funniest was a short "Wind Turbine Falls". It's the fake story of a sound designer and team who go out collecting sounds. They are adventurers much like Indiana Jones and go far and wide to recover sounds for movies. The purpose of the film and interview is for Ben to talk  about his new album "Wind Turbine Falls Six", being the sixth in a series of albums filled with wind turbines falling down. The real story is that he was invited by the Loizeaux brothers, who were blowing up a power company's giant experimental wind turbine, to come record the sound, which he did. He then used the sound in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


I have a copy of it. I wonder if it would be ok to put it on Youtube. 


Other trivia you don't want to know: The voice of ET was discovered while Ben was in line at the grocery store and this woman was talking with a unique voice. Ben talked to her and the rest is history. Universal was developing an ET ride where ET gave everyone a personal goodby as in "Goodby Ellen". This poor woman. My guess is she was in her 70s. They had her come in to record 8000 goodbyes. One for each name they came up with. I heard she got about halfway and they gave up.

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  • 9 months later...

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