Audio Lover's Guide to Super 8

Audio Lover’s Guide to Super 8

The Eight Most Memorable Audio Moments as Selected by Re-recording Mixer Anna Behlmer

Anna Behlmer “What is happening on the screen dictates what we do with the mix. . . . I love 7.1—the format is so fun.”

Anna Behlmer
Re-recording mixer


 Joe’s Mother’s Wake (Chapter 1, 0:00) 
 Creature’s Train Crash Escape (Chapter 3, 15:40) 
 Creature Attacks at Gas Station (Chapter 6, 36:27) 
 Fixing the Power (Chapter 7, 44:00) 
 Creature Destroys the Bus (Chapter 14, 1:19:20) 
 Neighborhood Battlefield (Chapter 15, 1:25:27) 
 Inside the Creature’s Lair (Chapter 16, 1:30:20)
 Returning Home (Chapter 17, 1:38:15)


Joe’s Mother’s Wake
Chapter 1, 0:00

Opening Scene—The film opens with a factory worker resetting the “Number of Days Since Accident” sign to the number 1. The film then cuts to a memorial service for the accident victim. The scene’s audio emphasizes the emotion experienced by Joe, whose mother was killed in the factory accident.

Listen for:

All sounds coming from LCR

All sounds wrapped up front

Very tight sounds intentionally contained to the front channels to convey the feeling of “containment”

Channels used: LCR


Creature's Train Crash Escape
Chapter 3, 15:40

As the neighborhood kids are set to wrap a film within a film in Super 8, they hear a train coming. The kids realize this will add to the production value, so they reshoot the scene as the train approaches to capture the sound effects. The sound of the train horn nearing is followed by sounds of train cars roaring past the kids. Suddenly an automobile drives on the track, speeding toward the train, then colliding and exploding with it. The kids run for their lives as flying debris falls around them.

Listen for:

The sounds of debris flying, the train screeching, train cars exploding in midair.

The sound of the flying train cars starting in front, moving to the side and then to the back.

The way the sound gives the feeling that the train cars are going “up.”

Something happening in every channel. “If we could move it, we moved it,” said Behlmer.

Channels used: All
Wins for: Overall best use of 7.1


Creature Attacks at Gas Station
Chapter 6, 36:27

The sheriff arrives at the gas station to refuel and walks inside to pay the attendant. Eerie sounds are heard in the distance; a bell rings before a pack of dogs runs by. The squad car’s siren begins to sound, and the bell’s ringing fades into the background. Suddenly a car crashes through a garage wall, landing on its side, and all the lights start flickering. The attendant checks on the sheriff, whose car is destroyed. The attendant then sees something that sends him screaming back into the gas station. Just as the attendant enters the building, the windows blow out of the gas station.

Listen for:

Distant screaming of woman in the scene opening that is nearly impossible to make out

Dogs barking, with pans from L to R, then fade out

Gas pump “tinking,” with a build R before the big hit

Birds chirping in every channel

Look for:

The police chief turning his head toward the sound directed in specific channels

The gas station attendant wearing headphones and listening to cassette tapes, corresponding to the movie’s 1979 time period

Channels used: All
Wins for: Best use of 7.1 for subtle effects


Fixing the Power
Chapter 7, 44:00

A power company truck is driving out to check on power outages. Walkie-talkie chatter reports that power is out all over the area. A power company worker gets on the truck’s mechanical ladder and heads to the top of the power line. Crickets are chirping as the worker tries to restore power. The worker sees debris flying in the distance and hears loud noises just before the power on his truck goes out and something suddenly attacks him.

Listen for:

Sounds moving from R to L and L to R, corresponding with objects flying on the screen.

What you don’t see: the attack has very little corresponding video; it takes place mostly in the audio environment.

Channels used: All


Creature Destroys the Bus
Chapter 14, 1:19:20

The kids are apprehended by military police after breaking into the middle school. While the kids are on the bus on their way back to the evacuation area, a creature attacks. The bus blows a tire as soldiers try unsuccessfully to shoot the creature with a tracking dart. As everyone tries to escape, the creature flips the bus, bringing the kids face-to-face with it.

Listen for:

When the bus falls to its side, the sound effects pan from L to Ls at the same time the sound pans through the middle and into the right; this gives the effect that the entire room is tilting.

The way the sound moves across channels as the creature walks across the roof of the bus. Listen for audio going from rear surrounds to center as Joe comes closer to the creature.

The way the effects trade off with the music to create emotion.

Channels used: All
Wins for: Best scare of the film


Neighborhood Battlefield
Chapter 15, 1:25:27

After the kids are rescued, they get caught in the Air Force’s attempt to kill the creature by use of tanks, missiles, and other weaponry. The entire neighborhood has become a war zone, and no one is safe.

Listen for:

Shots being fired and panning across channels and across the scene, going from R to Ls and vice versa.

Creature sounds in the rear surrounds that make you feel like the creature is behind you.

Rear surrounds keep the activity alive even after the image moves on (for example, the war sounds move to the rear surrounds).

The way the effects trade off with the music to influence the scene’s emotion.

Channels used: All


Inside the Creature’s Lair
Chapter 16, 1:30:20

The kids find a tunnel to the creature’s lair and rappel down into it to try and save Alice. They find bodies of people the creature has captured. Once again they come face-to-face with the creature.

Listen for:

Engines roaring, motor fan belts, ratchets.

As the camera pans, the audio follows to the corresponding channel.

Look for:

The creature following the audio, which is being sent to all channels

Kids in the tunnel following the sounds, their heads turning toward the sounds in corresponding channels

Channels used: All


Returning Home
Chapter 17, 1:38:15

As friends and families are safely reunited, the creature fixes his machine and leaves the town to return to his home planet. The creature peacefully leaves his lair and assembles his spaceship at the top of the water tower, creating a magnetic field toward the ship.

Listen for:

Audio flies across all channels, corresponding to objects flying across the screen.

The dramatic audio shift from the sound effects to the score as Joe’s locket is pulled by the magnets in the spaceship.

A lack of brass and a lot of violins in the score.

Channels used: All
Wins for: Most emotional use of audio