I'm making some backgrounds for a short bit of film to make my reel sound nice.

Half of the section takes place with a couple people talking inside an apartment and then the other half is a flashback to a beautifully green sunny field. I'm happy with the 30 track ambience that I've created for the field, it includes wind, grass in the wind, ice melting, and the woman's voice convoluted in wind with birds. It has a lot of depth from the MS plugins, LP Filtering and Reverb.

Hearing the apartment sounds a little bit lifeless.

Are there any cool tricks that you use, and plugins to give many layers to places that aren't big spaces?

  • A good film to study these types of ambiences would be "Limitless". I remember great ambiences
    – Utopia
    Nov 16, 2011 at 1:24
  • The Baader-MeinHof Complex also has nice ambiences
    – ChrisSound
    Nov 16, 2011 at 5:18

2 Answers 2


When layering ambiences I often think in terms of distance: foreground, mid & far... So 'far' components would be distant city, mid ground would be within the nearest block & near would be in the same building...

An important aspect of tricking the mind into interpreting distant sounds as actually being distant is natural slap delay/complex verb - not something that you can easily create with plugins but not too difficult to capture field recording eg think of a siren recorded from 20 blocks away compared with one recorded close & trying to use plugins - you'd literally need hundreds of different delays & impulses to emulate the complexity of that sound...

For mid & close you don't say what the emotional context is - is it a safe place? or a dangerous neighbourhood? Fragments of voices, from outside and from neighbouring apartments could be useful... It really depends what you are trying to evoke - being quiet & isolated from the world may be exactly what the narrative needs, or the opposite may be true..


Well it depends on how high up the aparment is as to quite what you involve.

You're definitely going to need some traffic drone in there as a basis. If the apartment is close to the street then some street walla would be good. Again, if you're within 'earshot' of the street, then other spot effects would be brilliant; car horns, shop doors, children, animals, sirens, all the normal.

If you're 'higher up' or want to include less external noise, then think about what might be going on up in the apartment. Maybe muffled noise from neighbours? TVs, radios, maybe muffled voices? Aircon, fans, random wood and pipe creaks, doors opening/closing, quiet footsteps etc.

If you spend some time giving these individual sounds some life, eg. making footsteps come closer then move further away with EQ rolloffs and panning etc, it can give the piece more character.

One thing to remember though is to not do things for the sake of it. If the apartment is up high and in a quiet place then of course it's going to be quieter than a breezy external location!

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