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The sounds in the Star Wars universe are usually very unique and diverse. In the original trilogy the sounds made by Chewbacca and R2-D2 seem to be brand new sounds in each film, meaning that R2 and Chewie don't make sounds in Ep. V that were recycled from sounds they already made in Ep. IV, etc.

However in the prequel trilogy this is not the case. The sounds made by Chewbacca and R2-D2 seem to just be old sounds recycled from the original trilogy, meaning R2 and Chewie only make sounds in the prequels that were recycled from sounds they already made in the original trilogy.

Not only that, but all Wookiees' speech is made up of sounds recorded to represent Chewbacca's speech. The Wookiees don't seem to make any sounds in Ep. III that Chewie hasn't already made in the original trilogy. Humans have different voices, protocol droids as well (C-3PO vs TC-14), so why should all Wookiees speak stock-Chewie-sounds.

Why do the Prequels recycle old sounds for R2-D2 and Chewie (and all Wookiees)? Is there an explanation for this seeming laziness on the part of the filmmakers? Have the filmmakers commented on their decision to recycle these old sounds?

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    Regarding the Wookies, I imagine it's because they aren't on screen a huge amount. Also, saying that they sound alike could be your insensitive human hearing; just because they sound alike to us doesn't mean Wookies can't differentiate between themselves! – Often Right Dec 9 '15 at 4:51
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    Can you prove this actually happens, with links to clips or something? – user31178 Dec 9 '15 at 7:40
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    Don't forget the humans. How many times did they recycle the line "I have a bad feeling about this"? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/66569/… – Kerr Avon Dec 9 '15 at 12:25
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    "because you don't need to spend money on a new sound" seems like an uber-obvious answer. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 9 '15 at 19:51
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    An in-world explanation of the phenomenon might run, I speculate, like this: For R2D2, consider this possibility. What if in the first movie of the original series, R2D2 was at a certain upgrade level. (Let's call it version 2.) In the prequel, he would have to have the same sounds, or fewer, as he was at the same software upgrade level, or a lower one. In episodes 2 & 3 of the original series (later in time), he could have gotten a software upgrade, adding new sounds. (It happens on iPhones and Androids, so why not on R2D2)? – Sid Kemp Dec 13 '15 at 0:11
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Add to that blaster sounds and the Wilhelm Scream. As an earlier post suggested, saving money is one reason, but not the only one. Ben Burtt designed R2's speech from his own voice and synthesizers. Wookiespeak came from a mix of walruses, badgers and bears. To go out and capture more animal sounds would not only be costly, but the newly sampled voices of said animals would have different vocal tones than the originals, so Chewie would sound completely different. Basically, once they have a pallet of different sounds stored, they can edit bits and pieces together to create new "sentences." It is possible that R2 has had new vocabulary added to his lines, but it would be important to keep his original vocalizations in the mix as well to keep him familiar.

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Not all Wookiee sounds were rehashed. During the battle of Kashyyyk in RotS, a couple of Wookiees do a Tarzan-like yell swinging from vines (2:07 in the YouTube clip) which I thought was a bit corny.

Thanks to @RedCaio, he reminded me that Chewie went Tarzan at the Battle of Endor. But when comparing the yells on both clips, you can tell they are different recordings.

  • He does the tazan sound in RotJ when swinging onto an AT-ST – RedCaio Jul 6 '16 at 2:49
  • Really? I don't remember that. On Endor I presume? When exactly did that happen? Is there a YouTube clip somewhere showing that? – iMerchant Jul 6 '16 at 2:52
  • Chewie and some ewoks swing on a vine to get on top of a walker in the Endor battle. They take over the walker and start firing at other walkers etc. and Han surrenders to it but surprise, Chewie's inside! I don't have access to youtube for the next few hours. – RedCaio Jul 6 '16 at 2:57
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    youtube.com/watch?v=Qm1OaKO_fzw – RedCaio Jul 6 '16 at 20:15
  • @RedCaio - Nice find. I updated my answer to include Chewie's yell. – iMerchant Jul 6 '16 at 22:09
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I'd say that in-universe, R2-D2 is simply the same droid throughout trilogies, therefore he would still make the same sounds over a span of many years.

As for the Wookiees, perhaps their species simply has powerful ears that can pick up small inflections and personal differences in tone. Out of universe, however, there is some evidence to suggest that perhaps there are in fact different sound clips. On Peter Mayhew's Wikipedia page, it is stated that Mayhew played Chewbacca in Revenge of the Sith, as we know. Whether or not he recorded any new sounds is anyone's guess, but I am sure that someone more skilled than me could search one of the clips you included and likely Lucasfilm recorded a new sound for Tarfful(the Wookiee leader) rather than spend the time to cut out any background noise in the original clip from Episode V.

In addition, after Tarfful roars, the other Wookiees join in any clearly. This is not just repetition of Tarfful's roar. These sounds are too indistinct to separate and search for individually, so proving this is near impossible.

However, I would say that these Wookiee sounds are in fact recorded specifically for Episode III.

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    Welcome to Sci-fi & Fantasy Stack Exchange, unfortunately this does not really answer the question. If you have something more to add in order to do so, please edit your answer. – Theyna Jul 5 '16 at 23:01
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    Peter Mayhew never did the actual vocal sounds for Chewbacca in either trilogy. – Hypnosifl Jul 6 '16 at 0:36

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