guys.. there's this film i am working on where the whole story is set on a 2nd floor apartment in a city..since the film would be shot in a set, i'll have to lay ambience tracks from the scratch..i would like to know that for recording ambiences for the story should i record from 2nd floor apartments of the real location to get the perspective or is it advisable to record it from the streets and then EQ it..or do stuffs like that.. please help!

4 Answers 4


As far as recording goes I would do both - try the actual 2nd floor perspective, with window open and closed, but also record from ground floor so you can experiment


What i love about atmos is that you can build the world of the film. Ask yourself a few things:

  • What kind of neighbourhood/building is the apartment in? Is it near an expressway? In a bad part of town?

  • Is it a high quality, well sound proofed place? Is it cheap with poor insulation?

  • What kind of neighbours do they have? Is it in a large complex with many families? Is it predominantly single, young people?

All of these things can give you ideas and influence your choices. Sound design is at its best when influenced by a vast number of tiny decisions like these.

As for recording, don't let yourself be tied to "what it would sound like in real life". Films are caricatures of reality, however subtle. By all means, go to some 2nd floor apartments and record ambience; try 1st floors too, try 10th floors. You never know what's going to inspire you, or what's going to fit perfectly.

  • @Roger :thanks for the ideas.Since you have mentioned about the elements in ambiences that might help the story, i might as well add that the story in set in a noisy part of an Indian city.. but the mood of the whole film is quite the opposite.Again there is another thing that i'll have to establish through the ambience is that the characters in the film are from a different part of the country (hence speak a different language, India being a multilingual country).I am a little bit worried about using too many such suggestions as it might also kill the mood of the film!
    – Mita
    Jun 14, 2012 at 17:53
  • @eyehear05 Sounds interesting! The important thing is emotional realism, so only use what will add to your story. Deciding to leave something out is just as important as deciding to add something. Jun 14, 2012 at 20:09

It's impossible to tell whether it's on the second floor or the 202:nd floor. Many apartments are pretty well soundproofed nowadays, so having traffic sound might very well disturb the viewers if used too much, or in some cases, at all. A city is pretty noisy though, so I'd put a lot of amb with really rich noises on it. Fans and such is a good sweetener!


Nice question. you can do both or either of them depending on what works the best. if you can make the audience feel the same way as the protagonist is by recording it from the 2nd floor of some building, then great go ahead use that sound. Same applies for the sounds you'd record from the streets and eq them later. I'd recommend you record both ways and sit with the director or mabbe a group of people and show them that scene and ask them which one they thought tells the story more effectively.

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