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Hi,

Just was wondering what was the best way to get the vocal perspective of someones inner thoughts. It is a normal situation where the actor is conveying their inner thoughts to the audience. Nothing fancy. Can someone shed some light one how to do this?

Thanks.

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8 Answers 8

The thing that popped into my mind is an intimate VO recorded on a large diaphragm condenser. If the talent has never done voice-over work and has problems with being too loud or projecting, tell the talent to get close to the mic (about 2 or 3 inches) and speak to it as if he's talking into someone's ear (like as if the mic is the person's ear).

Leave it relatively dry and add slightly more reverb to the foley and things happening in the environment while he is narrating to separate the "head voice" from the rest of the environment (it's all about contrast).

I've done this with great success in the films I've worked on that needed this treatment.

There are also countless examples of this dry treatment in great films:

Fight Club

Benjamin Button

The Thin Red Line "I shot a man" sequence

etc. etc. etc.

WARNING: Closer mics mean louder mouth noise and clicks. Be ready to spend a while editing those out.

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No necessarily a DESIGN trick, but a mix trick is to put the voice across LCR, creating a voice that's "disembodied" from the action on screen - Murch used this to good effect in "Apocalypse Now".

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1  
@Sonsey, That's one BIG VoiceOver. I like it. –  g.a.harry Jun 7 '11 at 17:46
    
Weird- I was actually thinking about this while reading above. Someday I'll be able to make all my decisions the same way Murch would! –  Dan2997 Jun 7 '11 at 23:01

I really like my inner monologues to be super dry and up front. Nice and soft and round. Not quite the Voice Of God thing, but think Morgan Freeman in March of the Penguins and pull it back a little.

Using a lot of effects runs the risk of obscuring the lines for first-time listeners, particularly for an audience that doesn't spend much time listening to stuff through flangers, reverse-delays, et al. Especially if it's a one-time thing. The most annonying thing in the world is having to rewind because you missed something that might be important. The brain/ear needs time to adjust to whats happening sonically.

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I think effected VO is a little retro these days, and I agree that most of what I've heard in the last 10 years is the ultra-dry, center-channel approach. I think the gist, though is that as long as if feels different enough from the main dialogue to be different, when married with images of a non-speaking actor/actress, that'll get the point across. –  NoiseJockey Jun 7 '11 at 14:30
    
Exactly. The difference between the literal worldizing that happens to on-screen dialogue and clean booth-recorded monologues is more than enough to make it clear. | Here's a weird thought: Technically, the world around us is actually the best and most accurate convolution reverb ever made. –  g.a.harry Jun 7 '11 at 15:10

I find that the proximity effect LF boost provided by getting a cardioid right up in the actor's face adds a bit of weight to an inner monologue. It seems to make it feel a bit larger. Add just a smidge of verb (just a little bit!) and you've got a nice, subtly ethereal bit of dialogue with good presence.

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I agree with the suggestions of leaving the dialog dry. The more intimate you can make this feel the better. Especially if you goal is to bring the audience closer to the character.

If you are mixing in 5.1 try placing the VO in the LCR. Adding voiceover to the stereo field can give the audience the feeling that someone is talking directly in their ear. This was done very effectively in Apocalypse Now. Listening to that mix in a theater gives you the feeling that Martin Sheen is practically whispering in your ear...almost like you're a priest in a confessional booth with him.

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If you're looking for a sort of subconscious psychic effect where you're hearing someone's thoughts...

Maybe try reversing the dialog and then adding a reverb and then reversing it again to get a sort of backwards/reversed ghosting effect. This also works well with delay. Then you can also add a regular reverb and/or delay and blend between all the layers for balance and clarity.

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@g.a.harry's advice is good. I actually meant this in a very subtle underlying way. Just something barely there to give it a little movement and distinction, not overbearing like "voices from the otherworld" extreme. Hence the "balance and clarity" part. Sort of an underlying whisper effect, but the clarity of the main dialog being very clear to represent a very conscious thought. –  Syndicate Synthetique Jun 7 '11 at 15:54

The effect of rvrb, reverse, etc... may be more what you're after rather than mic position which should be dry unless you are "seasoning to taste."

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I agree with the suggestions of leaving the dialog dry. The more intimate you can make this feel the better. Especially if you goal is to bring the audience closer to the character.

If you are mixing in 5.1 try placing the VO in the LCR. Adding voiceover to the stereo field can give the audience the feeling that someone is talking directly in their ear. This was done very effectively in Apocalypse Now. Listening to that mix in a theater gives you the feeling that Martin Sheen is practically whispering in your ear...almost like you're a priest in a confessional booth with him.

I am editing a short movie, and in four moments I have the talent walking slowly in a long corridor, looking down, obviously sunk in his thoughts... I used a very dry sound , totally deessed, almost all low freqs removed (near 15db), resulted in more medium frequencies, like old records, and positioned in LR front and 10% in C channel . The producers were very pleased. Thanks Justin Pearson for the overall concept.

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