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I'm editing a video just to do for a fun challenge, its of a rally car doing various manoeuvres and drifting, just using library material, no recordings I've made. Was curious to know of any strategies or approaches people have when editing sound for a scene like that, or a chase scene. One thing i'm struggling with is to make the sounds of the different cars in the library sound like they are only one car...

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In that situation, where you're having trouble getting sounds to match, layering is going to be your friend. If you can find some elements to lay in underneath that will augment the actual sound, you'll at least have some commonalities between the multiple sounds that will help dupe the audience.

Also, camera/perspective changes are where you'll want to put in the sounds with the most radical tonal changes, if they're all you have to work with. If you have those layered elements in there still, you will still have that connection to the previous sounds. We are much more forgiving of sonic changes that occur with visual cuts than we are of ones that occur independent of the picture.

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I always work thinking in terms of stems, and have sets of source tracks named for each set of stems. So for editing a car chase, I would have a set of (10-32) tracks and a stem dedicated to each of:

  • Vehicle movement (tyre movement, screeches, suspension etc)
  • Exterior vehicle moves
  • Onboard vehicle
  • Interior vehicle

This helps clarify cutting sound as per the picture cuts. It depends on the context and picture cuts of the film as to how strongly you want to make the sequence 'smooth' or 'cutty' - it can sometimes be more dramatic to accentuate picture cuts/perspective changes...

Once you have the sequence working it can be valuable to solo a stem/set of tracks eg vehicle movement, and focus soley on it to make it more exciting/dynamic/interesting. Tyres do not only make sound when they screech - watch a great car chase film like Ronin and listen to the different tyre sounds for different surfaces... Think about G Forces on the car interior as its moving fast, when it skids around a corner the suspension may be under a lot of load as well.

As for making different car motor sounds work for a single car, that is not a process I would ever pursue. Good vehicle editing is like good ADR editing: you start with a good performance! For a film, access to vehicles is something to insist on.

  • Totally agree with you. I usually spend more time on the tires than the engine sounds as they sell movement more than anything. – Justin P Aug 27 '10 at 23:43
  • "making different car motor sounds work for a single car, that is not a process I would ever pursue" +1 for that - each car has a voice - and you need a shed load of good source material from that one car to make it work. coincidentally pole.se is a good place for engine source material :) – RedSonic01 Sep 2 '10 at 6:36

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