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I want to make a voiceover commentary on a video sound like it's coming from a 1960s tape or film reel. I suppose for that I need to reduce quality in a distinctly "analog"-sounding way, add some noise, filter out some frequencies etc. What kind of effects setup or plugin would you suggest? I'm using Logic Pro X as the DAW.

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    Old tape & film sound distinctly different. Melloj has provided a good tape emulator... but it won't work for film. Which do you actually need... & bear in mind that by the 60s, reasonably good results were actually obtainable, so you need to be really quite specific in what effect you are looking for.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 27 '16 at 16:13
  • This is true. I once heard a recording of an F1 race track recorded in the 60s by my tutor. You would swear it had been recorded last week. Such was the quality. But it's about character and what people expect to hear. Don't know really. His approach is correct. I'd find old news reels on youtube as reference and try and copy it.
    – Melloj
    Dec 27 '16 at 19:34
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The most important thing with this won't be the "plugin" you use it will be the performance and language used in the voiceover performance. That will be the key to ensuring authenticity.

For instance, if you were to look at voiceovers or presenter performances in Australia, they would be markedly different today than they would have been back in the 1960's. Accents would be different, language and grammar would have been different.

Focus primarily on performance, then look at the technical side of the production. The technical side is easy in comparison.

For instance:

Most voiceovers from the 1960's will have little production sound and lots of orchestral music going on in the background. Check youtube for loads of examples.

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Mark is right--

Getting someone who can actually do the voice will be the most important part. After you've got that out of the way, make it tinny be bringing out the mid-highs and then run it through a couple tape saturators.

If you wanna add a VERY SUBTLE vinyl noise to it, a plugin such as iZotope Vinyl (which is free) would do the trick, but it might be easier to just use some vinyl samples. Check out the 99Sounds vinyl FX pack.

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When you're trying to recreate a sound, I think it's always important to understand how that sound was created in the first place.

Vintage film sound was recorded through crystal-based microphones and then placed optically onto the film strip - Here's a film from 1943 describing the mechanics involved in recording and reproducing optical sound

With each part of the process and each duplication for distribution, some quality was lost through a number of processes:

  • Dust on the film would cause ticking and popping noises.
  • Scratches could cause louder pops, growls or zipping noises depending on the reproduction process used.
  • Focus/exposure problems during duplication could cause the peculiar type of distortion and compression you can hear
  • The glue used to join two parts of film in an emergency edit (usually after the film has snapped in the cinema) would cause a ver definite pop a little before or after the splice - 14 1/2 inches (368mm) was the standard for Movietone making approximately 10-11 frames or almost a second's difference to the sound edit versus the picture edit.

To reproduce these you could use a vinyl replicator for the pops and dust noises. You could also try playing with the compression and distortion (probably an over-driver rather than a fuzz) and an EQ to replicate the microphone and focus/exposure errors. Finally, if you intend to do this multiple times or on a large scale, I would suggest compiling a library of pops, growls and zips taken from the spaces between recorded sound on any old film clips you can find and layer those in as needed.

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Look for a tape plugin. Waves do a free demo of theirs that works for seven days. Tape saturation, wow and flutter etc. I used it on a friends track because wanted it to sound like it was recorded in the 80,s. It's great. Be sure of your methods before you activate it because it stops working after 7 days.

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  • Can you add links? Are you referring to this one? waves.com/plugins/…
    – clstaudt
    Dec 27 '16 at 13:58
  • Just look on Waves website, they're all there. But like others have said it's probably not the right one for film.
    – Melloj
    Jan 3 '17 at 22:26
  • I think some of the more extreme settings may help - Tape simulators often offer "Saturation" which is a particular combination of compression and overdrive that might help - It would require some experimentation though... and 7 days may not be enough Nov 23 '21 at 20:25

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