For my Lunch & Learn lesson I wanted to talk about something simple that everyone has most likely experienced in his or her daily life and during sound editing/designing. We’ve all heard it anytime we’ve walked down the street and heard an ambulance or police car passing by or maybe even an airplane. The point in time when you first hear the siren and the time when it has sped off into the distance sound different in pitch. I personnally get woken up everyday by hearing the Doppler effect of an airplane landing or taking off since I live 10 minutes away from an airport.

Doppler Effect - An apparent change in the frequency of waves, as of sound or light, occurs when the source and observer are in motion relative to each other, with the frequency increasing when the source and observer approach each other and decreasing when they move apart.

Discovered by Christian Doppler in 1842, Doppler proposed that sound waves shift both when approaching and receding from an observer thus causing the pitch to change.

Waves Doppler Plug-In

Waves Doppler Plug-In

If you have access to Waves Doppler plug-in than you can get an idea of how simple and complex you can make a sound effect pass by your screen. The Doppler plug-in gives you the ability to not only control when you want the sound effect to pass through the center of the screen but also a change in pitch as it approaches or recedes or both.

As with any other plug-in you can play around with a bit to figure out how it works, but it is important to know that this effect will essentially turn any mono track into a stereo track to create that spatial image, so keep that in mind. Also, the audio suite version only works with stereo files. This plug-in allows you to take any generic pass by of almost any vehicle and make it fit any scene or special setting you may be cutting or mixing.

I decided to create a general spaceship pass by using general sounds that individually would sound mundane.

First I took 5 different steady stereo sounds to cover certain aspects of frequency for my imaginary spaceship.

Spaceship Doppler Raw Layers

There are two ways to create the doppler sound effect I wanted: I decided to buss all my tracks through a Doppler AUX for more flexibility to fit sound to picture, but I also ran the same group of audio tracks through the AUDIOSUITE version with the same preset  I created to see if there was a great difference. There ended up being a slight level difference and I won't handles to make the sound last longer if needed.

While adjusting the settings to the Doppler plug-in the first thing you want to do is make sure that it doesn’t continue to loop even when your effects aren’t playing so you’ll want to change the Mode to “Trigger.” That way it triggers on your sound effects and plays along to match the picture.

Setting the MODE to TRIGGER

Next you’ll want to change the direction your object is moving in the scene you’re cutting using the left and right arrows.

Set the time it takes for your object to move across the screen.

Now comes the fun part. The three dots will control your Left, Center and Right Spatial Image and also the pitch shift at which point during your objects “by” will it start to sound like an actual distancing has occurred. This is completely up to you and how creative you decide to take it.

Final Result

I’ve also screen-shotted my general spaceship sound session for you to take a look on how I took regular static sounds and warped them with the Doppler plug-in.

Audio Suite Version:

Aux/Bus Version:

What are your favorite Doppler Sound Effects? Fighter jets, spaceships, ambulances?  Let us know in the comments below!

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