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You know, this voice that sounds like it's the same guy doing all the trailers. I don't quite know how to describe it, it's a voice-over that's really well stuffed in the lows... that one:

[youtube]ZPBvFXf9Q2U[/youtube]

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPBvFXf9Q2U)

Well, I wonder what is required to recreate this... I've tried compressing the lows, I've tried EQing, but there is without a doubt much more to it. I saw a guy demoing a similar effect with Adobe Audition but he was using DSP stuff I don't have access to.

Do you know of a way to approximate this effect using Pro Tools 8 LE stock plugins?

Cheers,

Justin

PS: I suspect the actor to be playing the greatest role in the success of the operation, the mic to be doing part of the job... how about miking the throat with an SM58? (I'm trying to do away with what I have...)

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I was just about to ask the question, glad I searched for it first. –  Stephen Saldanha Aug 3 '11 at 18:36
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8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your actor is going to be about 75% of the success of this thing. 15% will be mic placement and positioning. The rest is compression and eq.

actor -> 416 positioned pointing down at a 40 degree or so angle aimed at the sternum -> compress moderately to heavily in post (fast attack, high ratio) -> add some high end -> done.

Here's some reading over on gearslutz to get you rolling:

VO mic choices

VO mic positioning

VO compression

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One clue that points to it being mostly about the actor is that these days, there are different voices for different genres. You generally hear the same guys for comedies, and a different set actors for action movies, and a different ones for animation. I think its because the individual voices take on meaning for audiences. I also think it takes time and repetition for a particular actor's voice to work its way into the collective unconscious of the culture.

David Rovin

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I have to agree that it's the talent, and not the treatment of the recording, that creates the magic trailer VO. With few exceptions, most LaFontaine copycats fall short as they can't hit the lower register as well as he did, and no amount of doctoring can fake it accurately IMO. You can have successful VO with a totally different voice of course, as proven by these guys:

[youtube]JQRtuxdfQHw[/youtube]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQRtuxdfQHw

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Do you have any idea how much money Don LaFontaine was making when he was still alive?! I interned with an audio engineer years ago who worked with him once. Let me just say, it was a RIDICULOUS amount.

The actor is all of it. Sure, proper mic placement is going to be key in accurately capturing his performance, but you could have handed that guy a microphone from a karaoke machine and he still would have sounded awesome.

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@Shaun, I agree with you, although I'm not even pretending to imitate him. I think with a different acting I can make my voice work. I'll put myself on a whisky/cigar diet and next week I'll record :D I'm confident with my acting skills and I'll take my time to deliver what I'm looking for. Nature didn't give me the voice so I'll have to be original there... I'll see if I can get it to work. –  Justin Huss Sep 2 '10 at 14:37
    
@Justin If you listen to Don's voice, he doesn't necessarily have the deepest voice out there. It sounds more nasally than bassy to me. Maybe it's just the mix, but still... –  Utopia Sep 2 '10 at 17:02
    
You still hear that type of voice in movie trailers, strange that people are trying to imitate him so much but I suppose its a really iconic sound! youtube.com/watch?v=fVDzuT0fXro –  Haydn Payne Jan 6 '12 at 8:13
    
@Haydn Payne - HA! I've always loved that trailer. –  Shaun Farley Jan 6 '12 at 12:40
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I think 90% of it is the VO actor. A good actor can make a shitty set-up sound decent. In the video, I believe Pablo is mimicking Scott Rummell not Don LaFontaine. I worked with him on trailers and tv spots for Spiderman 2 and 3 and it's funny because that guy sounds just like him. I think Scott is the most talented and in demand VO actor out there. Even when Don LaFontaine was alive, we rarely used him. Whatever you do, don't ever find out how much VO actor's make because it will make you very sad. :(

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Sorry to be so off topic, just woke up when I wrote this. Everyone made some good points and I just rambled about something. I am a big fan of the U87 and many VO actors are used to working with it. –  bpert Sep 2 '10 at 19:19
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I've actually worked on a project that called for a voice like that so I'm just going to share my experience.

Yes. Your talent is really important and must be able to pull off the voice by himself to a certain extent. He had a strong bass voice but still had to mimic it.

Use proximity effect to help get the voice. It sounds a bit more natural than EQ and it helps the talent feel better during the performance. Just don't let him get too near and muffle up the voice. I tried multiple mics and (can't remember for sure now) the mic we ended up using was a Blue 8 Ball.

Don't EQ the voice too much. Too much bass makes it dull and doesn't sound so impressive. A little reverb will make the voice sound bigger. Use a setting that sounds huge with a really short tail. You just want it sound in a slightly larger room but make the reverb subtle.

If I were to try it again, I might try a sub-harmonic generator plugin to see how it works out.

Remember that the voice isn't really just bass heavy, its an "in your face" kind of voice. The nuances in the voice is really important as well.

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In addition to the other points in this thread (actor, mic positioning) you can play a lot with the proximity effect - get the talent to get as close to the mic as they can. But most professional artists know how to use a mic and use the bass build up to their advantage.

Get the right talent, if nothing else works try a simple pitch shift with some distortion/overdrive and heaps of compression.

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One of about 5 actors who do this voice shared the secret as being "years of cigarettes and coffee".

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