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Dune's Sci-Fi Sounds Star in This Epic Deep Dive Video

Director Denis Villeneuve discusses crafting the soundscape for his adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel.

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Baron Harkonnen hovering above his chair in a scene from Dune.
What does Baron Harkonnen sound like? Someone had to figure it out.
Image: Warner Bros.

Of all the people working on a film, the sound team is maybe the most invisible. If they do their job right, everything you hear is perfectly acceptable and natural. You rarely think about the work that goes into layering in dialogue, footsteps, movement, or creating sounds for things that don’t exist. It all just belongs there. But what is Star Wars without the sound of a lightsaber or the beeping of R2-D2? What is Star Trek without a phaser blasting or a transporter activating? These sounds feel perfect for their universes but had to be created.

So when making a movie like Dune, the filmmaker has to be as aware and particular about sound as everything else. Yes the casting is important, the script, the costumes, you name it. But if that sandworm doesn’t sound like a sandworm, whatever that means, or that ornithopter is a bit too familiar, it can all fall apart.


That’s the topic of this fascinating video by SoundWorks Collection. It interviews director Denis Villeneuve about putting together his sound team (including, but not limited to, supervising sound editor and sound designer Mark Mangini, supervising sound editor and sound designer Theo Green and re-recording mixer Ron Bartlett) and the importance of making sure the world of Paul Atreides and Arrakis sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

This video, which originated on the Soundworks Collection YouTube a few weeks back but just arrived on the Warner Bros. YouTube, was likely created as a way to highlight Dune’s sound team leading into Academy Award nominations, which are coming next week. History has shown that big sci-fi movies like Dune do very well in those technical areas, and it’s a fairly safe bet that some of the people in this video will be accepting Oscars on March 27.


Dune is now out on Blu-ray and digital download. Its sequel, Dune: Part Two, will be in theaters next year.

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