It may just sound like beeps and boops to us, but the droid-speak heard in Star Wars actually has roots in human conversation. Or at least BB-8's does. A newly-released featurette available in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Collector's Edition set shows how the rolly-polly scene-stealer's unique sound was made.
The "Sounds of the Resistance" video shows Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) and Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) serving as "voice consultants" for the scene-stealing ball. This means that the former recorded lines of understandable dialogue - telling Rey "thank you" and "I have to stay here, I can't just leave" - and creating a baseline to work from.
Hader then provided a variety of sounds, following Schwartz's emotional cues. Lastly, JJ Abrams and the sound design team followed Hader's performance cues with a synthesizer and other digital tools, thus creating BB-8's "voice." You can see part of the process in action below:
This is cool and all, but it reminds me of hearing Chewbacca speak English. Which is to say I am simultaneously awed and freaked out.
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