Audio Lover's Guide to Falling Skies

Audio Lover’s Guide to Falling Skies: The Complete First Season

The Most Memorable Audio Moments as Selected by Rick Steele (Sound Designer) and Michael Graham (Sound Supervisor)

Michael Goodman and Rick Steele “Our goal is to make the sounds dramatic, emotional, say something. And Rick [Steele] is a master at that, coming up with different sounds to make people feel something.”

Michael Graham
Sound Supervisor


Hiding from Mechs and Skitters (Episode 1: “Live and Learn”; 2:25–4:56)
Skitter Getting Shot and Dying (Episode 1: “Live and Learn”; 31:42–35:38)
Mech on the Roof (Episode 3: “Prisoner of War”; 17:09–18:41)
Tom Defeats the Skitter (Episode 3: “Prisoner of War”; 19:52–21:16)
Mega Mech Battle (Episode 10: “Eight Hours,” Season Finale; 22:16–25:30) 

Hiding from Mechs and Skitters
Episode 1: “Live and Learn”; 2:25–4:56

While Tom and Hal are looking for food, they are attacked by mechs and skitters. They hide in a store for safety.

Listen for:

Animal sounds as the skitters talk

Skitter Getting Shot and Dying
Episode 1: “Live and Learn”;  31:42–35:38

Tom leads a group of resistance fighters on a food run. In the process, his son Hal catches sight of his missing brother, Ben, walking with a group of harnessed kids in the same direction as the Second Massachusetts Regiment. Hal wants to go after him, but Tom convinces him otherwise. The resistance fighters instead enter a warehouse, find food, blow up a mech, and shoot a skitter.

As the resistance fighters stare down at the dying skitter, there is a terse, bleakly funny rhythm to the dialogue that ends the scene:
Jimmy: "I wonder what it's thinking."
Tom (as the skitter's head rolls to the side, dead): "Nothing, now."

Listen for:

The skitter dying: A moose, a buffalo, a horse coughing up its feed (transitioned from quarter-inch tape into the digital world), a man having an emphysema attack

Mech on the Roof
Episode 3: “Prisoner of War”;  17:09–18:41

Tom and his crew of resistance fighters scout out a group of harnessed kids that includes his captured son, Ben. The skitters captured kids who were gathering scrap metal, including old toasters and copper wire. Tom's crew retreats to plot a nighttime rescue mission. The rescue mission goes instantly awry when fellow soldier Mike sees his harnessed son and breaks cover to rescue him. Tom sets off an explosion and gets knocked backward. In the confusion, Hal and Karen are captured.

Listen for:

The special light-beam sounds

The vocal “mech moan” of the mech being put in place 

Tom Defeats the Skitter
Episode 3: “Prisoner of War”; 19:52–21:16

Tom and his crew are scouting out the group of harnessed kids that includes his captured son, Ben. In the process, Tom has to face down a skitter one-on-one. He shoots a couple of legs off the skitter and beats it into unconsciousness.

Listen for:

The reverberation of the huge mech feet

The staccato of the skitter feet

Skitter feet sounds cut out when the skitter talks

Mega Mech Battle
Episode 10: “Eight Hours,” Season Finale; 22:16–25:30

This is the first real test for Pope and his mech-metal bullets, so the crew unloads on it and takes it down easily. Unfortunately, the fight isn't over yet. Several more mechs come barreling down the street, and firepower just won't do it this time. Scottie and Ben work the radio to find the right frequency. They find it but have to use the flagpole as an antenna to amplify it. Soon the mechs are retreating up the street.

Listen for:

The sound of a dozen mechs marching in unison

Keys jingling and things moving in the room as the mechs come in at the beginning, to promote the feeling of how big and heavy the mechs are

All mech feet in unison as they march in, then none of them in unison on the way out—complete disarray