Tag Archives: CHU

Sound Designer Ben Burtt Reveals Radio’s Influence in Star Wars films

Today is popularly known as Star Wars Day––and I’m reminded of one of my favorite posts, featuring Star Wars sound designer, Ben Burtt, who to my surprise, contacted me to answer a question I published here on the SWLing Post.  Once again, here it is. Enjoy!  And “May the fourth be with you!”


StarWars-LogoSWLing Post readers may remember a post I published in which I believed I’d identified a familiar shortwave time signal station in the Battle of Hoth scene from The Empire Strikes Back.

To recap, here’s the scene in The Empire Strikes back–listen carefully:

Now listen to the recording of Canadian Time Station CHU I made recently–note the tone and duration of the data pips:

Upon hearing this, I went so far as to muse that the Star Wars sound designer might be a radio listener. I asked our readers if anyone could confirm this–?

Well, we’ve got our answer!  I’m truly indebted to an SWLing Post reader who passed my post along to his friend, Ben, who could provide this definitive response:

“This is Ben Burtt, sound designer of the Star Wars films. A friend sent me a link to this blog thinking I would like to comment.

Ben and old recorders

Ben Burtt with his recording gear, circa 1980. The mike on the stand at Ben’s feet is one from his grandfather’s ham radio station in the 1950s, or possibly earlier.

“The answer is yes, I have always been a ham radio enthusiast.”

“My grandfather, Harold Burtt, operated W8CD out of his home in Columbus, Ohio 1930s-1960s. I was enthralled as a kid listening to the sounds on his receiver. I heard alien worlds and cosmic ‘voices.’

Harold Burtt, (Chairman of the Psychology Dept Ohio State) with his attic gear approximately 1935

Harold Burtt, W8CD. (Chairman of the Psychology Dept Ohio State) with his attic gear,  approximately 1935

“So not only did I record his radio, but continued to do so on the Star Wars series and Star Trek as well.

My memory of the Hoth transmission was that it was WWV but it could have been CHU since I was recording all that interested me on the dial.”

Terrific! Thank you, Ben, for taking the time to respond. As I said, you’ve certainly started off this radio enthusiast’s year on the right wavelength…no doubt some of our readers will agree.

Indeed, the powerful sonic experience of the Star Wars and Star Trek films has, in my estimation, helped shape many of us into the radio/sound enthusiasts we’ve become–myself certainly included. Thank you, Ben, for this!  You’ve sharpened my ear to a greater appreciation of sound, especially filmic sound, and your work in particular.    

For readers who are less familiar with Ben Burtt’s work, check out his Wikipedia page and IMDB profile–you’ll find he’s been the sound designer on numerous influential films including the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

A special thanks to Ben Burtt for sharing these wonderful photos and kindly giving me permission to use them here on the SWLing Post.  I must say, considering my love of radio in the thirties, I especially like that photo of Harold Burtt (W8CD) in his shack.

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Indian Standard Time via new longwave site

"India (orthographic projection)" by Ssolbergj (talk) - Own work,This vector image was created with Inkscape.Aquarius.geomar.deThe map has been created with the Generic Mapping Tools: http://gmt.soest.hawaii.edu/ using one or more of these public domain datasets for the relief:ETOPO2 (topography/bathymetry): http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/global/global.htmlGLOBE (topography): http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/topo/gltiles.htmlSRTM (topography): http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/English | italiano | ?????????? | ??? | +/?Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:India_(orthographic_projection).svg#mediaviewer/File:India_(orthographic_projection).svg

(Source: Southgate ARC)

India to employ long wave radio technology

Two towers, about three times the height of the Qutab Minar, are likely to be erected at as-yet-undecided locations in the country for disseminating Indian Standard Time.

The National Physical Laboratory, an organisation charged with ensuring that Indian time stays accurate, has signed an agreement with IFR Information Dissemination Services (IFR) Ltd., which will set up the towers and employ long wave radio (LWR) technology to purvey this time to a range of users, from phone companies to railway stations. Customers will need a microchip that can be embedded into everything, from wall-clocks to servers.

“Long range radiowaves from the towers can be reliably transmitted even during major disasters. Other than time, information such as a tsunami warning or weather warnings can also be sent,” Pawan Kumar Kasera, director, IFR, said at a press conference. IFR is affiliated to the Germany-based EFR GmbH, which is in the business of providing similar services in Germany.

The company now requires a plethora of permissions from other government departments to host these towers, each with a range of 1,000 km, and an investment of about Rs. 600 crore, which it will raise privately.

The NPL would help IFR keep their caesium clocks (located in the tower) calibrated but wouldn’t be involved in setting up the infrastructure related to time dissemination. Last year, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-body had tied up with the Indian Space Research Organisation to provide time-related services for its satellites. “The advantage of LWR is that the waves travel close to the ground and so can reach out to far-flung locations, even to submarines. We’d advertised through newspapers asking private players to help us disseminate NPL-time to the public. Five companies approached us and we’ve selected IFR,” Dinesh Aswal, director, NPL, told The Hindu .

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/coming-huge-towers-to-publicise-right-time/article23377284.ece

Click here to view this article at the Southgate ARC.

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Leap second added to 2016

(Source: NPR)

Here’s a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year’s Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world’s foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

In a bulletin released this summer, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, or IERS, said it would be necessary to introduce a “leap second” at the end of December. Timekeepers use this added second much as leap years are used — to bring the world’s atomic clocks in sync with the Earth’s own distinctive rhythm, which in this case is determined by its rotation.

This leap second isn’t the first. Since 1971, the world has added leap seconds with some regularity — typically every two to three years — and the latest leap second was added only last year, in June.

Continue reading at NPR…

Last year, I recorded the 2015 Leap Second via WWV–click here to read that post. Though such a subtle change, it is fun to hear that extra second added. I plan to record the full 31 meter band New Year’s Eve–hopefully, I’ll also catch the 10,000 kHz WWV Leap Second!

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Star Wars sound designer is, indeed, a radio enthusiast

StarWars-LogoSWLing Post readers may remember a post I recently published in which I believed I’d identified a familiar shortwave time signal station in the Battle of Hoth scene from The Empire Strikes Back. If you haven’t read this post, feel free to do so and listen to the embedded video/audio clips.

Upon hearing this, I went so far as to muse that the Star Wars sound designer might be a radio listener. I asked our readers if anyone could confirm this–?

Well, we’ve got our answer!  I’m truly indebted to an SWLing Post reader who passed my post along to his friend, Ben, who could provide this definitive response:

“This is Ben Burtt, sound designer of the Star Wars films. A friend sent me a link to this blog thinking I would like to comment.

Ben and old recorders

Ben Burtt with his recording gear, circa 1980. The mike on the stand at Ben’s feet is one from his grandfather’s ham radio station in the 1950s, or possibly earlier.

“The answer is yes, I have always been a ham radio enthusiast.”

 

“My grandfather, Harold Burtt, operated W8CD out of his home in Columbus, Ohio 1930s-1960s. I was enthralled as a kid listening to the sounds on his receiver. I heard alien worlds and cosmic ‘voices.’

Harold Burtt, (Chairman of the Psychology Dept Ohio State) with his attic gear approximately 1935

Harold Burtt, W8CD. (Chairman of the Psychology Dept Ohio State) with his attic gear,  approximately 1935

“So not only did I record his radio, but continued to do so on the Star Wars series and Star Trek as well.

My memory of the Hoth transmission was that it was WWV but it could have been CHU since I was recording all that interested me on the dial.”

Terrific! Thank you, Ben, for taking the time to respond. As I said, you’ve certainly started off this radio enthusiast’s year on the right wavelength…no doubt some of our readers will agree.

Indeed, the powerful sonic experience of the Star Wars and Star Trek films has, in my estimation, helped shape many of us into the radio/sound enthusiasts we’ve become–myself certainly included. Thank you, Ben, for this!  You’ve sharpened my ear to a greater appreciation of sound, especially filmic sound, and your work in particular.    

For readers who are less familiar with Ben Burtt’s work, check out his Wikipedia page and IMDB profile–you’ll find he’s been the sound designer on numerous influential films including the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

A special thanks to Ben Burtt for sharing these wonderful photos and kindly giving me permission to use them here on the SWLing Post.  I must say, considering my love of radio in the thirties, I especially like that photo of Harold Burtt (W8CD) in his shack.

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Time station CHU in The Empire Strikes Back

Fullscreen capture 12202015 40448 AM

Earlier today, I published a post noting that I thought I heard the time station WWV in a scene of The Empire Strikes Back.

SWLing Post reader, RadioGeek, quickly corrected me: that’s Canadian time station CHU‘s data pips I’m hearing, not circa-1980s WWV.  Cool!

Listen for yourself

Here’s the clip from The Empire Strikes Back, Battle of Hoth

Now listen to the recording of CHU I made only moments ago–note the tone and duration of the data pips:

No wonder I mixed up CHU and WWV; I’ve listened to both for propagation since I was a kid.

I wonder which of the Lucas Film sound engineer(s)/artist(s) chose CHU for this scene? Anyone know, by chance? Or can anyone find out?

No doubt, that sound designer is an SWL or ham radio operator. Perhaps this may also explain the SSB-esque radio dialog between fighter pilots throughout the Star Wars films:

Please comment!

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