I have some dialog that i want to match into the soundscape to be a background voice. (turning it into Walla basically) Since it has been recorded like a closeup VO i am wondering what tricks / tools i should use to make it appear more distant.

The obvious ones are a bit of reverb maybe, some eqing, maybe a de-esser to get rid of consonants...

I guess the deeper question here, regardless of which tool to use is: -What makes a voice appear distant, which frequencies need to be attenuated, etc.

I know this is matter of the specific room as well, but what makes a voice appear less direct and more in the background?

And if there IS a certain tool that you'd recommend here, feel free to let me know.

  • pulling it out of the centre channel & into LR would automatically defocus it, top rolloff too. Delay L-R/F-R depending on 'where' it should be would give imitation haas. [though I'm not an ADR/foley guy, so I'll leave it to the experts] – Tetsujin Dec 17 '14 at 19:31
  • Another thought - we need to know the environment, indoors/outdoors etc. If it's indoors, then a decent convolution reverb [which you can make from the clapperboard 'clap' itself if you have Altiverb] would help push it back nicely. Outdoors, no reverb/echo at all, unless your guy is yelling in an obviously reflective environment, housing estate etc – Tetsujin Dec 17 '14 at 19:57

I've had decent luck experimenting with making a "distant" sound with just processing:

  • A bit of lowpass filter (not too aggressive, but obvious enough) to dull it, and leave other sounds in the mix more prominent.

  • Reverb with a semi-long initial decay and dense reflections. The idea is to suggest that there was plenty of space between the sound and the listener, enough for echoes to build up.

  • Accentuating any stereo effect by de-emphasizing the center. You can do this with a Mid/Side EQ.

When I've done this I was going for more of a sci-fi "heard coming over the mountains" kind of sound rather than a more localized walla effect, but I imagine the principles are similar.

While experimenting I noticed that overcompressing the sound seemed to make it more "closer" and "intimate" so I imagine raising the dynamic range a bit with an expander might be useful just because it's sort of the opposite of that. However, I didn't try this, so I'm only speculating, but I felt it might be useful to suggest it.

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Great answers so far. I suppose if you have the chance to Worldize it that might be worth a go too!

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