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Every line of Star Wars Episode II had to be redubbed – due to noisy camera lenses

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 camera lenses 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, due to the unique zoom lenses custom built by Panavision to shoot the 2002 picture, an unforeseen side effect 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+. 

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web 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 as diverse as 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, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). 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.