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I'm trying to add some trumpet solo into my film and I want to make it feel like you are in the school and someone is playing it in the far away playground/another building.

For (1) post-production, I read some other posts and learnt some basics like adjusting EQ (low pass) and playing around with reverb and pre-delay. But I feel like adding reverb will make it feel far away in the same room but it's kind of different in my case. So I'm wondering if there's more things I can do. I'm also considering using plugins like Altiverb and their presets.

Also I haven't let them record it yet so I'm wondering if there's something I should pay attention to (2) in recording (such as they should stand farther away from the mic compared to normal recording).

I'm trying to achieve effects similar to this

and
.

Thanks for the help in advance!

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4 Answers 4

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That's an interesting challenge.
It's not actually that it's really far away, but that it comprises of two sets of different distance cues.
It's perhaps easier to hear in the second example, but you have the classic case of sounding like it's a) in a reverberant space but also b) that reverberant space is distanced from your listening perspective.

If you want to hear this in real life, try walking past a music college at pretty much any time, day or night - there will always be solo &/or ensemble players, usually in different rooms, playing unrelated material. Each performance you can hear will be already ambient from the room it's in, but then additionally distanced by only being able to hear the result from perhaps an open widow as you pass. This becomes highly directional.

I think you're going to have to try recreate this in two stages, unless you have access to the specific space you're trying to recreate & the gear to set up sine sweeps or even a clapper, in which case I'd just let Altiverb create it for you.

Otherwise, I'd be tempted to create the initial room space in mono, as though you were recording it in the room, before pushing it into your second space, which is outdoors.
You first space, then, treat as though you were recording it in the room with corresponding room ambience/reverb. Don't trim the EQ at his point, but do incorporate a lot of the ambience, as though you were distant-miking rather than close. I don't think a close mic will help at all for this.

Once you've got that initial space, then push that back into your 'outdoor' ambience, which will be much more sparse, longer single reflections rather than 'reverb'. This is where you can attenuate the top end from your first pass; then pan it to the audience's perspective [bear in mind here you will be pushing a mono source to a stereo or quad result. The returns from this ought to then create the stereo/5.1 ambience inside the perceived current filmed scene.

BTW, I don't think they got it right in the movie - the resultant sound is too even in a stereo field [my normal mixing environment isn't equipped for 5.1, so I can't test that].

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  • Thanks for the detailed response; This two stage strategy makes sense and I'll try it out.
    – Jay
    Dec 10, 2021 at 13:16
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It depends on many factors and the sound of a trumpet plyaing on a playground (i.e. outside) will differ from one playing in another building. And then obviously the layout of the room, the construction materials, whether there's rooms in between, whether the doors are open or closed etc. will all make a difference in how to approach this.

You should record as "clean" as possible, avoid - if possible - any room reverb etc. It wil give you more choice later on.

Think about the space, is it wide open, and on concrete? Then it takes a long time for the sound to travel and bounce. But when it bounces, it bounces hard. I.e. set reverb with a long duration, probably add in some echo with even longer duration, and use a high pass. (if you have very deep basses, you need a high and low pass, to clearly separate the high which bounces and the low which reverberates)

If it's inside, then sound bounces quickly, but also loses energy quickly, i.e. quick reverb on the room itself and long reverb on top (to simulate the bouncing of the sound which leaks from the room) And this time add a low pas, the high frequencies get lost pretty quick.

It will be a lot of twiddling and searching before you get it realistic. And visuals matter, they influence how we interpret the sound, i.e. you should mix the sound while viewing the visuals (especially if this is new to you.)

Edit: and yes, I agree totally with Tetsujin the sound in the movie is too even, you should definitely pick a side and pan towards it

Last but not least, it might help to use something like the ambeo orbit plugin, especially if you want to add some motion, i.e. if the camera travels and you want to reflect this in the mix. It won't be enough on its own, but it can definitely get you a bit on the right track. https://en-us.sennheiser.com/ambeo-orbit

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In your examples, I just hear a normal recording mixed rather quietly.

Would it be too obvious to suggest you set up a mic, open the studio door, send the trumpeter some distance away and press Record?

Another trick is to stand the player on the 'wrong' side of a directional microphone. Or record with their back to the microphone.

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    Reminds me of what they had to do in the early days of broadcasting live band music with a single mic on the radio - the flutes and clarinets would all gather around the mic, strings (usually just a standup bass guitar) just behind them, trombones, tubas, saxes a few yards further back, and the trumpets went all the way out in the hallway, maybe with the drums for company. Dec 10, 2021 at 21:12
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In Audacity, use the reverb effect. From the defaults:

  • increase the "room size", because you want it to be in an open area
  • reduce "reverberance"
  • increase "damping", because that will happen over a long distance
  • reduce "tone high", because higher tones will have even more damping than lower tones
  • maybe increase "wet gain"
  • reduce "stereo width", because sounds from far away will sound like mono
  • check "wet only"

Then, add a noise floor. In the outside there will be thousands of different sounds mixing together as noise.

Maybe add some environmental noises such as cars, people etc.

Here's a clean example [MP3], composed of two sounds created by sorohanro under CC-BY 3.0 license, namely solo trumpet -07in F - 90bpm.wav and solo trumpet -01in F - 90bpm.wav

And with the reverb + noise effects applied [MP3] (maybe too much noise, still). Settings:

Screenshot Audacity

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