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How to make dialog and sound effects sound distant? 

Charles Deenen: 
Over the past years, I've often had to make dialog and sound effects sound distant or "on the street" since the original recordings where close up. Sometimes I've had good success, and sometimes I can't get it to sound good at all. Biggest problem always seems to be that it sounds too "verby" or processed. 

Last night I watched Jacob the Liar and the background dialog sounded like I've always wanted to do have mine: real, and on the street. Does anybody know if this was obtain artificial, or if some of it was actually recorded in a narrow alley and street to obtain this effect ? If it was done artificially, can anybody tell me what I'm doing wrong ? 

Randy Thom: 
If you fiddle with the EQ (mostly by filtering out lots of lows and some highs), and play with reverb and delays, you can usually get it to sound pretty good. Try removing some of the mid-range from the reverb return (the area between 800 and 2k is often where the most identifiable and undesirable digital reverb artifacts occur) 

Another technique is what is sometimes called "worldizing." This refers to playing back existing recordings through a speaker or speakers in real-world acoustic situations, and recording that playback with microphones so that the new recording takes on the acoustic characteristics of the place it was "re-recorded." Walter Murch used this technique to wonderful effect on films like American Grafitti. Obviously, you need a reasonably quiet place to record in order for this technique to work very well. Though the louder you do the playback, the less problematic ambient noise will be. Watch out for distortion, though! 

Carl Warner: 
Randy has given you excellent advice. I can still remember when all major recording studios and film post houses had acoustic echo chambers.  Housed usually in the basement of the facility, the best ones were constructed like an intricate maze. These were numerous microphones and speakers placed throughout the various passageways in the maze and by selecting different mikes and speakers you could custom the audio to almost any desired reverb effect. Of course using EQ effectively also helped to achieve some really amazing results. 

Edited excerpt from CAS webboard 
(Message thread: Distanizing" dialog and sounds) 

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