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Topic: Simulating distance in sound design -

  1. #1

    Simulating distance in sound design -

    I'm doing a sound design demo where a gladiator is fighting a minotaur in a coliseum. Basically I want the minotaur (and the gate he emerges from) to seem further back, and the gladiator either to be first person or close 3rd person. Is there some sort of effect I can use to push the minotaur back? My instinct says reverb, but I'm kind of concerned with the coloration it gives the gate.

    Also, the main character's voice is recorded pretty dry; would some degree of ambience be expected, considering it's an outdoor coliseum? Any ideas for stuff I could listen to as another reference point?

    Wilbert Roget, II

  2. #2

    Re: Simulating distance in sound design -

    I would think that the minotaur should be in mono, so it does not "spread", but rather sits "in position" in the mix.

    And then it should be fainter, and have a mono return reverb that is a bit spacious, but comes from a distinct "point" in space.

    There are some starting ideas for you. I am sure others will have more ideas.

    --- Glenn

  3. #3

    Re: Simulating distance in sound design -

    You could try SpinAudio's 3D positioning plugin. I use it and love it.


  4. #4
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: Simulating distance in sound design -

    Simulated distance must take into account the listener's (virtual in this case) point of view. So to the question of stadium ambience being added to a character's voice, two questions enter the picture. First, is the character actually participating in a dramatic scene in the space, or is this character narrating from a different time or perspective? This makes a difference in the design.

    Second, even though a live acoustic space might be the setting, if the listener POV is close to the sound source, the ambience might be very live and reverberant, but the reverberant aspect of the signal would be very low compared to the direct signal. In other words, if you are in a parking garage, someone whispering in your ear is still going to be an almost bone dry signal.

    Per the illusion of distance, distance is determined by the stereo spread of the source, the EQ of the source signal, and then finally by the reflective content. The reflective content is the least influential over the final illusion of distance. A mono signal with rolled off high/low content (to account for the heat transfer through intervening air as well as the lack of proximity) and spread-live sounding reverberant signal will read overall as "distant."

    There is no better way to learn these methods than to take someone with you to many different spaces, and just listen to them talk, hit tambourines, play an instrument, etc., at different distances. You can take a few notes, and come out of such an exercise with a whole new perspective on engineering.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Burbank, CA. US of Mexico

    Re: Simulating distance in sound design -

    There's a big difference between making a close-mic'ed sound sound off in the distance and using a reverb plug to position it on a stage.

    To put sound effects in the distance, you need to create a "smearing" effect. First off, you're going to have to dial in your eq so that the majority of the sound you hear has no direct low end and no distinct high end. Reflectivity in relation to distance has less to do with reverb and more to do with non-linear echo. I typically set up a band-pass situation in which I smear the frequencies differently from each other because if you study natural acoustics, different frequncies arrive at the listener at different times and in different ways. For example, for the lower end of the sound I'll have maybe a reverb-y wash. The mid-mids, I'll use a slappy delay. For the highs, I'll create a longer delay at a different frequency. Sometimes, it's vice-verse depending on what type of sound it is.

    Sorry, but no plug in is going to do this for you. If you own PTHD, you're welcome to email me off list and I can send you some examples.


  6. #6

    Re: Simulating distance in sound design -

    Thanks guys! I'll try out each of these and see where it takes me. About the "smearing", it sounds like you're talking about a kind of multiband reverb situation; I don't know of a plugin that does that, but I could theoretically just chain three reverbs/delays together and constrain each of them to a single frequency range, right?

    Also, one thing I'm starting to get concerned about is that it's a coliseum, ie. an outdoor area. Should I have any special considerations with this?
    Wilbert Roget, II

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