R2-D2 as a data sonification design prototype?
“R2-D2 was the most difficult non-human character to develop a voice for, Burtt says. He was a machine that was going to talk, act, and work opposite well-known actors. But he didn’t have a face or speak English. Initial voice tests for Artoo seemed to lack “a human quality.” After some trial and error, Burtt began imitating the sounds an infant might make, and he found that it worked: R2-D2 could convey emotion without speaking words. Thus, the idea was to combine mechanical and human sounds, and Burtt combined his voice with electronic sounds via a keyboard. It helped him understand how Artoo could inflect and, ultimately, deliver a performance.”
Burtt arrived at an integration of synthesized and human speech sounds, in part through an initial process of ‘vocal sketching’ — a useful technique for rapidly prototyping sound design concepts, such as for new devices, auditory displays or systems.