I'm currently in post production with a WW2 era short. The climactic scene at the end takes place within a pine forest. There are gunshots that happen offscreen, away from the main characters, and gunshots that happen where the main action is taking place. I'm really struggling to make them sit right in the mix, due to the fairly unique way that trees both block and reflect sound at the same time. It should be mentioned that there wasn't the opportunity to record impulse response on location due to unfortunate time constraints (squeezing a second day of shooting into the last few hours due to predicted weather).

So I guess what I'm asking is this: How would you approach a similar situation in terms of creating the right auditory space within a forest environment?



First of, sitting well in the mix can be a problem for any element in a design. Making it fit is much more a technical endeavor than a 'realistic/document' design process of the element. So the distant gunshots treatment can also be 'unrealistic' but still work well. Making it fit is something that comes after the design in my opinion.

Regarding reverbs and impulses: This might help: http://www.boomlibrary.com/boomlibrary/products/outdoor-impulse-responses

Oh and think about the structure of a forest, it's not only trees that reflect the sound. The canopy is very reflective as well.

Good luck.

EDIT: Not every gunshot has to sound perfect. Here's a simplified example. if the gunshot is more dangerous/possibly fatal it could sound much dryer than other gunshots. So try and create several layers of gunshots with different 'fatalities'. This could lead to a less muddy or crowded mix.

  • Very good points. Been trying to visualise the physical nature of the sound; for the distant gunshots I've been thinking of applying a low pass to the source as the trees would be obstructing the highs/high mids, while pulling out the lows and mids in the reverb for the way those highs would be reflected. For the close range fatal gunshot I'm allowing it to be more stylized, pulling out all the other sounds from the mix and ramping up the echo with rolling thunder that pans in seperate directions. Thanks for the tips, very much appreciated! – Daniel Borodin Aug 25 '13 at 12:53
  • seems like you've found the answer by yourself already :) – Arnoud Traa Aug 25 '13 at 15:47

Yeah, forests are tough. Altiverb has some good forest verbs.

Try an in game worldized reverb with heavy damping, a short tail and a longer predelay. I've found predelay to be the most important setting for real world verbs like this. It should almost sound like a long slapback verb. Try more than 80ms and experiment.

  • Will definitely give this a go, thanks for the tip! – Daniel Borodin Aug 25 '13 at 12:45

Convolution reverb / worldization.


McDSP Revolver has some pretty good forest impulses.

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