Guest contribution by By Douglas Murray
OK, here is the ugly truth for film post, or really any surround sound work… Most reverb plug-ins do not sound natural for applications using greater than 1 or 2 speakers. What you don’t want: a reverb that jumps to completely different speakers from the source. What you do want: a reverb that spreads out from the sound and helps localize it and define the space it’s in. While I haven’t tried every reverb or surround reverb plug-in for Pro Tools, it’s a very exceptional reverb that sounds localized around the position of the source signal without having to pan the reverb return’s output. The focus of this article is localization of reverb in post for sound effects, dialog, and other discrete sonic events. Localization is of less concern for more enveloping sounds such as ambiences or music, which seem to tolerate more general spatial spreading.
In this article I’ll describe:
- why it is desirable to have the early reflections and reverb bloom outward from the direction of
- the source signal as in nature,
- how these principles must be exaggerated for the theatrical film sound environment,
- how stereo reverbs require panning to work in a multi-channel world,
- how most multi-channel reverb plug-ins largely disregard the direction of the source sound,
- how to simulate reverb localization with existing plug-ins in Pro Tools (more work and less accurate than it should be, today),
- And finally, I will describe a reverb plug-in that does what I want it to do. It seems so simple and obvious! Why is it so rare?
When building the space that sounds occupy, it may sometimes seem like overkill to load up those DSP hungry (though wonderful) reverb plug-ins. They can be a pretty big load when it comes to even the mildest amount of spatialization, and it can also be time consuming to configure one to emulate an outdoor space. I thought it would be worth sharing a trick of mine for both situations. A low-to-no DSP method of spatialization that allows us to “fake the space.” I should qualify this. We aren’t going to be looking at how to fake a traditional reverb, but how to add a mild sense of space to the sounds we work with. We’re just going to give them a little bit of multichannel presence to better situate them in the world. Before I get into the specifics of the process though, let’s review some science!Read More
Following up on David’s previous post, the excerpt from his Sound Sphere article, he and I had a conversation over the phone to go into a little more detail. Here’s the full transcript.
David Sonnenschein: So, I know you read the excerpt that was posted for Designing Sound, but have you read the whole article as well? [ed. full article appears in “The New Soundtrack” volume 1, issue 1]
Designing Sound: Yes, I read the whole thing, but it’s been a few days and the two are kind of merging in my mind. If I remember correctly there were a few more examples…
David: Basically, yeah. It has more examples, and it also has a section of applying this model more specifically to film sound. So it was bit more detailed, and there was some exploration of where it could go…some possibilities of expanding it into other arenas. The earlier section was also relating it to previously established models. It just kind of expounds a bit more in an academic way on the whole issue. So, we can just talk about some of those things in general, or specifically if you want to. Or there are other questions you’ve mentioned that are really pertinent. And people can read more in the article itself. It’s available some place else. So I like this idea of talking about it in ways that are a little bit new.
David has offered up an excerpt of his article, “Sound Spheres: A Model of Psychoacoustic Space in Cinema,” to our little community. The full article appears in the Volume 1.1 of The New Soundtrack, available through Edinburgh University Press (an excellent journal that I highly recommend). David and I will be having a phone discussion on Friday about this new model of his, to be transcribed here on DS. So, if you have any questions or feedback about this article, make sure to leave a comment. I’ll do my best to include each one in our conversation.
Genesis of Sound Spheres
As a sound designer, musician and filmmaker, much of my creative work is based on personal experience in the world, based on my own senses. I have spent a great deal of time alone in the wilderness listening to unknown animal calls and finely sculpted natural soundscapes, as well as in foreign countries that offer unexpected sonic reflections of human culture. Through the simple act of listening and observing my own physical, mental and emotional reactions to the surrounding sounds, the stories of these places, people, creatures and events began to coalesce into a pattern. This pattern was drawn from the previous theoretical structures I had learned from studying and creating films (traditional models mentioned above), but extended beyond into this dynamic model that I now call Sound Spheres.Read More