April 7, 2015 at 9:26PM


Sound mixing to achieve depth?

Hey guys, so I'm preparing for a short film I'm shooting next month, and a lot of the scenes involve sounds that are in the distance from the main character or in relation to the room that the scene takes place in.

Such as: a record player in the corner of the room, music being played in the characters ear buds while they're in her ear, the sound of a doorbell ringing and door knocking while they are in another room.

How do you guys suggest achieving depth of distance and location while editing sound?


This is all sound design that is done in post after your film is shot. It take time and practice to get the finished sound completed, and will require some skill with audio apps. ( I do my sound work with Sony Sound Forge Pro, and layer my audio with Sony Vegas Pro. )

April 8, 2015 at 9:20AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Thus why I mentioned editing and sound mixing :)

Matt Bastos

April 8, 2015 at 5:18PM

>>>How do you guys suggest achieving depth of distance and location while editing sound?

Layer your sound ( lots of different audio pieces working together ), you can pan to adjust placement for each sound within the environment, and you can process each sound ( EQ, reverb, etc... ) to give it the quality you are after. Just keep building and testing with a proper set of audio monitors, until you have something that you are happy with. ( or take a break and come back to it a few days later if your ears have gone stale )

April 8, 2015 at 5:47PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I think one of the best ways will be to use your lowpass filter or cut the high frequencies in eq. That'll give you a sense of distance as high frequencies don't travel through objects as well. Be careful not to over-do it though. Also just plain-old turning down the volume on those individual audio feeds. In the case of the record player, if it's in the corner of the room just turn it down a little, maybe apply a tiny bit of lowpass and pan it accordingly.

April 9, 2015 at 7:07PM, Edited April 9, 7:07PM


They way I approach it is the following: imagine you speak to somebody and the person is moving away from you. You hear essentially a direct sound, and a sound reflected from the room. So as the person is moving further, 1) the direct sound gets less loud 2) the ratio of the room sound to direct sound changes 3) the room sound is created from different location of the point source. You could emulate what you'd call room sound with reverb and EQ, perhaps a bit dynamic processing, such as compression. In reality sound from different directions hits year ear at slightly different times, since sound has to travel different distances from different reflection paths, and this also introduces subtle phase effects. This is how your ear can decide that the sound comes from a certain direction, and how far. But to first approximation, you could just diffuse the room sound, and have a particular direction for the direct sound. If it is coming from another room, it might be completely diffuse.

In a particular room, you could experiment and move the sound away, and see how you can best emulate with mixing,EQ, reverb and compression. Finally, you could do also mix multiple recordings, such as lav+boom+room mic and carefully mix their ratios. Hope this is a good starting point.

April 10, 2015 at 2:35PM, Edited April 10, 2:35PM

Almosh Taltosh

I think most sound engineers and sound designers use a lot of different impulse responses to get the right depth. Plugins like Altiverb and Speakerphone are ready-made for this, but when on a tight budget you can easily find many libraries of impulse responses on the net.
Now impulse responses are very cool, but algorithmic reverbs are very handy, too. There are some excellent plugins now that rival or even exceed the quality of reverbs like Lexicon, like from Lexicon itself but i like mostly 2CAudio, Eventide, ...
Again there are always free alternatives that are very good, but often need a lot of tweaking. It's nice the more expensive reverbs have a lot of excellent presets that often are superb also for film
Lastly if your system would still support Powercore cards (no OSX after 10.8.4 i'm afraid) the TC VSS3 is the one i would recommend the most. It's got a complete library of presets just for film, and those are gorgeous. They're also in the TC M3000 and Reverb 4000, but why would you want to use hardware with just two channels if you can have the many instances of a plugin that is a lot cheaper and has the same algorithms.

April 10, 2015 at 3:20PM

Willem Van den Broeck
Sound Engineer

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