File this under something that hard-core Star Wars geeks may already know, but I don’t care: I thought this was a tremendously cool fact, enough so that I’m devoting an entire post to it. Earlier today, I saw that the sound editor on The Wire, Jennifer Ralston, had held a Reddit AMA. I was curious about the AMA, and though I didn’t find much of huge interest (Slate actually ended up covering the good stuff), I checked over Ralston’s previous comments on Reddit (she’s a long-time member of the community) and ran across this terrific fact:
[R2D2 is] the name all film sound editors used for the second track of dialog, second reel of the film, back when each track was a reel of mag that had to be loaded on to a dubber at the mix … George Lucas heard the phrase R2D2 uttered during the mix of American Graffiti by Walter Murch. He remembered it and used it [to name his Star Wars character]. It’s a standard shorthand in the industry.
I did not know that, and someday, when my son is old enough to care about what a sound editor is, I will apprise him of that fact on a weekly basis until I am told to shut up because “I know, Dad. I know. Why do you keep telling me about this useless stuff and why does it matter?”
Because it does, son, It just does. That’s why.