Sound designer, Ben Burtt. Photo by Gregory Schwartz (

There’s a fascinating piece by Mel Lambert on the Editor’s Guild web site, giving details of every aspect of the sound—from dialog to Foley, to mixing, to creative sound design— for JJ Abrams new science fiction film, Super 8.

In it, master sound designer, Ben Burtt details how he used his own voice to control a bank of sounds in Kyma, performing it like a musical instrument to create the voice of the alien.  Burtt says that he wanted to create a character who, although alien, had an expressive soul, purpose, and rationality.  Once Industrial Light & Magic, which handled visual special effects, heard Burtt’s vocalizations, they were so inspired that they added a tongue to the creature’s mouth! One of the few times that they created picture to sound, instead of the other way around.

Full of insider tips and tricks ranging from how Burtt sustained the tension in a long train crash scene to how Matthew Wood compensated for young actors’ voices changing over the course of the shoot, the piece is essential reading for anyone who’s serious about sound design!

(Thanks to Matteo Milani for spotting this article and sharing it with us!)

Supervising Sound Editor, Matthew Wood (

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