Solo: A Star Wars Story had a number of daunting smaller tasks to accomplish as part of the ultimate daunting task of giving us an entertaining and weighty Han Solo origin story. One of those tasks was fleshing out the character of Chewbacca, and in this exclusive sneak peek at the film's upcoming Blu-ray release, we get a look at how the team behind the film achieved that.
As Han's co-pilot, best friend, and ever-present confidante, Chewie was a character who needed a lot of fleshing out in Solo. We needed to know not just how he met Han, but how he came to feel the way he does about him, and how the two of them went from an unlikely duo in an Imperial mud pit to co-pilots for life on board the Millennium Falcon.
This expansion of Chewie's life and inner workings happened in a number of ways, from the script to the performance of Joonas Suotamo as the iconic Wookiee, but as any Star Wars fan knows, a key component of Chewbacca has always been sound. The various grunts, growls, and roars of the Wookiee have always been a trademark, but since Chewie had more to do, and say, in Solo than ever before, those sounds had to grow and evolve.
In the clip below, Skywalker Sound's supervising sound editor and sound designer Tim Nielsen explains how he and his team began with the original library of bear sounds recorded by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, and then went out in search of additional animal sounds they could make use of. Among their sources were a very hungry bear who wasn't shy when it came to expressing his feelings about food, and a seal. Check it out:
These sounds were then added to Skywalker's library of Chewie noises, manipulated in various ways to make them sound like a Wookiee, and Chewbacca's vocabulary was thus expanded to allow him to do everything from roar at Han when he first meets him to express humor, grief, and bewilderment. It becomes a seamless part of the character in the finished film, but the process behind it is, as ever, complex.
Solo: A Star Story arrives on Digital HD Sept. 14, and lands on Blu-ray Sept. 25.