Just came across this issue doing sound design for an animation project: If there are various consecutive shots between 2 POV, let's say 2 guys in front of each other, with a glass wall between them, where there are punctual sound sources on each side; the shots jump between each character POV. (Sorry for the poor example but it gets to the point) In this case will you be panning those sound objects according to one's point of view? How far can we go before it gets confusing to the audience? I understand time duration of each shot is to be considered, but I'd love to know what are your approaches when you want to reach both perspectives.


/ EDIT Ok, guys, thank you all for the great answers so far. As there has been some doubts, I'll try to explain better. The example I gave above was just so everyone could easily visualise the situation, even the glass dividing the room so you could understand that the different spaces on each side are been taken under consideration, meaning I am not relying exclusively on panning; the exact situation is a kid that, from the street is looking at a window display very closely at a toy store; the cuts jump between his POV (from the street into the inside of the store) and some close-up shot at his face seen from inside the store. Inside, right behind the glass there are 2 moving toys, to the left (kid's POV). Each one is about 3, 4 seconds, there are two teaks in the beginning and another one some seconds after (between them there's a moment where everything but the music fades, emotional moment, bla bla bla). So that's why I think it's odd not to tweak the panning of the toys, but sure it seems a bit confusing tweak them anyway.

  • It's 2.0, by the way. Aug 2, 2012 at 12:53

5 Answers 5


A few factors to consider:

  1. Most audience members will not actively consider the position of a sound that is not drawing their focus (e.g., environmentals and ambiences)
  2. Conversely, an aggressive panning shift tends to pull focus. It depends on the role that your sounds play in the scene, but do not get carried away with accurate localization of the sounds — it's not worth the time, as...
  3. In a theater setting, the perception of image is ultimately dependent on which seat the listener chooses. Your panning relationships will never exactly be the same between two listeners.

For a shot-reverse-shot scene, I would first ask myself if the sound really needs to change. In a case like two actors on either side of a window, the background feeling would probably need to shift from one side of the glass to the next, but I would probably rely on automated changes in volume, EQ, and reverb/space before I automate the panning. If I want to stretch the boundary of the shot, or create a specific sense of space, then I will try panning the sound off to the sides and/or into the surrounds. If the sound source is visible in the shot then I simply follow its position. As @Mviljamaa mentioned, it's best to mix these kind of effects in a space like the one where the movie will show.

Ultimately, ask yourself: is it important for the audience to feel a significant shift on each cut back and forth?

Hope this helps :)


Provided I didn't misunderstand you, I see two solutions to this. Are the sounds from the two sides more separated by an open wall of glass rather than being in two separate rooms, ie like a wall in a court or something, then I'd keep consistency in it. Is it two obviously very different rooms, for example a guy standing inside an industrial complex, screaming through the closed window to a guy standing outside, then I'd keep their respective views strictly apart, though with very soft transitions between them.

I've done both many times, and correctly cut the last one can be absolutely fantastic, but if the editor can't think in sound and cuts it too fast, it will be terrible no matter what one does.


Depends very much on the particular situation. Changing the soundtrack according to the camera cuts might be appropriate, or it might feel distracting.

Strike a balance between what sounds need to move and what don't. Can the BG be the same or does it need to change? After those, it should be just a matter of seeing whether the mix can stay balanced or how to make it stay balanced. Keep it simple.

It should be possible to determine what is annoying and what isn't with your listening. And if you're mixing for a film theatre (where extreme panning and mix imbalance are considerable issues), then ideally you should be mixing in a film theatre.

  • Hey, thanks. In this case, it would be awkward not to pan the sounds (in different orders, but they are very important in this context), it doesn't sound right; on the other hand it feels a bit weird having them in opposite places every cut. Aug 2, 2012 at 4:10

Support or enhance the story


Soundtrack Cologne?! In this case i would very much make the decision depending on how much sound design and music are working in a ¨leitmotif¨ manner to gather a maximum effect of leading the audiences attention.

  • That's right! Ahah! Aug 2, 2012 at 15:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.