Apple shows how the people behind Star Wars create iconic sounds using Macs

Man in room using Mac to create sounds
Man in room using Mac to create sounds (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Today is May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day.
  • Apple has shared details of how Skywalker Sound makes Star Wars audio using Apple hardware.
  • "130 Mac Pro racks, as well as 50 iMac, 50 MacBook Pro, and 50 Mac mini computers" are used at Skywalker Sound.

Today is May 4th, but to people around the world, it's better known as Star Wars Day. The iconic movie franchise has been around for a long time now, but did you know how integral the Mac is to making some of the most recognizable movie sounds ever created? Apple wants to make sure you do and has shared a lengthy look into how Skywalker Sound uses Macs to get their work done.

Whether it's a high-end Mac Pro or a new, portable MacBook Pro, Skywalker Sound is using Macs and a plethora of other hardware and accessories to make the kinds of sounds we're all so familiar with. Whether it's the sound of a lightsaber or the rustle of someone walking through foliage, the chances are good that a Mac was involved.

With the power of approximately 130 Mac Pro racks, as well as 50 iMac, 50 MacBook Pro, and 50 Mac mini computers running Pro Tools as their main audio application, along with a fleet of iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV devices, Skywalker is advancing sound artistry and reshaping the industry.

That's a lot of Macs. No mention of the new Mac Studio, though...

Apple has also shared a new video that highlights how creatives are using Apple hardware to build soundscapes and worlds like no other. It's a Behind the Mac video like no other — it runs for almost 17 minutes and is an absolute must-watch, even if you aren't a big Star Wars fan. Even this Trekkie boldly went where no Trek fan had gone before!

The long text-based story is well worth a read as well, not least because it compares the Mac's startup sound to some of the most recognizable sounds of the big screen.

The sounds we associate with Apple — the iconic F-sharp startup chime of a Mac, the swoosh of an outgoing email — share an essential, underlying characteristic with many of the most recognizable sounds of Star Wars, and that is one of activation. Think how often an idle droid bursts to life with warnings and bleeps. Or how the elegant, dormant handle of a lightsaber suddenly pierces into a glow. Or a ship, sputtering and lumbering through space, thrusts into lightspeed.

We also get to learn about some of the people making the Star Wars magic happen — check out the full newsroom post for the ins and outs and make sure to watch that video!

We know that a ton of people use Macs to create some amazing things. But building sounds for far-flung worlds with alien inhabitants has to be the best Mac use ever!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.