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Hi, i'm quite new to all the sound recording/editing buisiness (i've just started recording my own sounds and playing around with certain effects and layering sounds). And i've encountered a problem: When recording certain sounds (for example: footsteps). How can you edit the sound in such a way that if you close your eyes you can hear where the person is walking? Simply panning works quite O.K. if the person is up close (but i'm not even a 100% satisfied with that result). But if the person is walking really far away it just doesn't sound right.

What would be the best way to achieve this effect of "moving around".

(i hope i am making any sense :P)

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Distance (Front/Back) can usually be achieved by a high pass/high shelf filter (to simulate the loss of highs as a sound source moves further away in reality), low frequency diffusion, change in volume, increase/decrease in early reflections, increase/decrease in level of the reverb tail.

The early reflections and reverb tail are obviously dependent on the space. Outdoor spaces could do with a few short delays to simulate reflections off nearby obstacles (depends on what't in the video).

Panning (again depending on the movement on the screen) and a touch of a doppler effect (change in pitch) can help make it 'real' as Dave suggested.

Most reverb plugins will give you control over early reflections and the reverb tail. If you are unsure of how to begin, recall a preset that seems like it would match the space visually and tweak from there.

The low shelf filter can be set at about 900Hz and dropped a couple of dB (again depending on the distance that needs to be simulated). Play around with all these controls till it feels and sounds right.

Additionally, in the world of Foley a lot more can be done to simulate distance. As the person gets closer to the camera you could add in a little more of the cloth track, hear more detail in the footsteps (crunch of gravel for example) and also highlight any props/jewellery/sound-making-costume-elements.

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Thanks for your answer! I'm definately going to try those things out. –  cheese Sep 17 '11 at 15:46
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The quickest and easiest way is a little bit of reverb and volume, adding more reverb the farther the subject is away (but not TOO much, unless they're 100 meters away down a brick hallway). After that, subtle use of a low-pass filter or simply rolling the highs off. Finally, a slight doppler effect can work wonders.

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There are spatializer plugins that you can use like Kontakt, Wave Arts, IRCAM tools. These will position the sound in a 3d stereo field.

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Think in terms of direct and indirect sound. The closer someone is the more direct sound is present, the further away the more indirect sound.

Direct sound is the dry sound source without any effects. Indirect is the sound reflected off surfaces, which is normally conveyed using reverb. There is little indirect sound outdoors.

The indirect sound will vary according to the environment, what all the surfaces are made up of and their relative angles and positions. These variations will alter the timings (delays) of reflections as well as the balance of frequencies and their relative loudness.

Generally

  • close (direct) = loud and clear

  • far (indirect) = quiet and indistinct

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