I am learning to use Ardour to create audio drama (my first encounter with a DAW). Is there a plugin or technique that will take a sound and place it “in” a particular position in the audio space? Or move it from point A to point B over a given period of time?
Multiple. The most common example of this is panning, which is simply varying volume of the output channels to reflect the varying intensity of a sound. A panner is built into every channel strip in Ardour, and can be automated to occur over time.
What I had in mind was a high-level “declarative” way of placing sound in space. e.g., “I want these footsteps to ‘walk away’ from the microphone in a ten-o’clock direction for a distance of 15 feet over 4 seconds”.
I agree it sounds a little nutty. Just came to mind and thought I would ask.
I am sure there are a few plugins to do similar out there, honestly i remember seeing one or two off hand. But I will also be honest and say that often times as a sound designer that is not what you actually want, you would be amazed at how often we cheat at sound design because people are not used to hearing realistic, they are used to hearing cheated sounds. Gunshots are the classic example of this, punches, etc. as well. But yes even basic things like foley apply, there are ‘realistic elements’ in each sound, but realism is often not the goal, illusion is, at least enough illusion to suspend disbelief.
Think of it as the difference between watching a youtube video someone shot on their home camera, vs listening to a preproduced hollywood version of the events. The latter is often far less realistic, but sounds much better to us. The same especially holds true in abstract and representational styles of design such as radio dramas.
Now to what that would entail to do, typically as things move away the frequency response changes, depending on distance primarily, and secondarily the characteristics of the air (Temperature and humidity and even altitude). Also you get into how we determine position which includes mS timing differences between our ears, amplitude differences, and even frequency response differences (This is an entire class or two for my students of my introductory courses) so all of these go into play. Then you get into direct vs reverberant sound, and the characteristics of the reverberation to match the space which is determined by size, shape, materials, etc… And probably another factor or three hundred I am forgetting off hand, but those are the primary influences.
So not an ‘easy button’ approach that will work in all circumstances right now, sorry. What sound designers do is mix between all of the above information to create the illusion, destined for a particular playback format (For radio dramas stereo is generally the destination though it wouldn’t surprise me if surround might be being explored for it in the future if not now)
Airwindows has a free plugin called Distance that does this, essentially (just automate the parameter): http://www.airwindows.com/distance-vst/
Didn’t watch the entire video, just the beginning demonstration of it, seems to only affect EQ response, not timing or reverb or placement in a stereo field. Along with that I will say I don’t believe the result of it, because it is rolling off to much high end for many choices. As he mentioned he might recommend it on the wet send of a reverb, which I might be able to believe(Would have to test to know for certain). So only one part of the issue and frankly not a great solution to that to me right now.
This is only tangentially related to my original question, but - my experience attempting footsteps foley:
First I tried recording it in stereo roughly as it happens in the script (direction/distance). Sounded OK, but only OK.
I considered building a collection of footsteps in stereo space that would meet most of my needs.
Then I thought I’d rather have a couple of mono recordings that I could manipulate with volume and panning, so I recorded a few of those. Unfortunately, due to the high gain required to record the quiet footsteps, the background noise was rather prominent. Panning also moved the “hiss” left and right / louder and softer, making it un-maskable (trivially) in the mix.
My current thinking is that I will need to invest in a savings-crippling microphone and interface hardware to get decent foley for subtle sounds.
It is not unusual to see foley recorded with a good quality preamp and shotgun for instance. I don’t have a great setup for it, but with a minimal amount of cleanup in Izotope RX or similar I get decent results out of it. So before you give up entirely, make sure your gain structure is good, find a nice quiet space(Very important honestly), use at least decent equipment, then look into some restoration (Sorry you will may have to leave Linux for this step, though I never tried the solution that was posted here a few months back), and see how it comes out.