Every line of Star Wars Episode II had to be redubbed – due to noisy filming setup

Obi-Wan Kenobi
(Image credit: Lucasfilm / Disney)

Ewan McGregor has revealed that Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones needed every single line of dialogue re-recorded, due to a filming setup that "hummed".

The Star Wars prequels have been much maligned by long-term fans of the franchise (particularly Episode II, widely derided as the worst in the series), but they were instrumental in the development of digital cameras being used in Hollywood.

• The best cinema cameras in 2022 won't ruin your audio!

In fact, Attack of the Clones was the first ever science fiction film, and the third film ever, shot entirely on digital cameras (the Sony CineAlta F900, which was intended to film the 1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in its entirety, but Sony could not produce enough cameras in time). 

However, an unforeseen side effect in filming meant that the on-set audio for the film was rendered completely unusable. 

"He was also pioneering digital cameras, which we used on the second episode and the third episode," McGregor told British GQ. "It took too long to change a lens, so they just had a zoom lens on them, and we had two of them. They had huge umbilical cords coming out the back to this tent in the corner of the set that hummed, literally hummed

"And they discovered after we'd finished shooting that they hummed in the frequency of the human voice, so we had to redo every single line of the second film is ADR [automated dialog recording, where actors have to lip-sync their lines in post production]."

Watch video: Ewan McGregor talks Star Wars

Given all the extra work, and the pioneering effort to transform cinema in general, it was extra painful to the cast and crew for the prequel films to then be received so poorly by Star Wars fans.

"The fighting took months to learn, we did the best we could to make it the best it could be, and I think we did. To then have them released and for the noise coming back to be like, [deflated groan], was really hard.

"But now, I meet the generation we made them for. You know, I meet the young people who were kids then, who for them, our Star Wars films were their Star Wars films. And the Seventies films are, they don't have the same relationship with them. 

"And it's really nice for me, that's really part of the reason I decided to do the TV series [Obi-Wan Kenobi], because I was aware of that. I mean, really there's a genuine appreciation of those films and it's funny to feel it, like, 15, 20 years later. But it's nice to feel it 15, 20 years later." 

You can watch the entire Star Wars saga, including the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, on Disney+. 

Correction: The original version of this story, published on 02 August, inferred that the humming was caused by the lenses being used. We have since clarified that the humming was actually generated by the equipment inside the tent, not by the cameras or lenses. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.