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May 16, 2024

Alan Meyerson Worldizing

 

 

 

Re-amping is one way to re-record audio creatively. Typically applied to DI electric guitar tracks, the idea is to output the track from the audio interface, convert it to instrument level with a reamping box, connect that to a miked amp, and record it to a new track. Thus, you can change the guitar tone after it’s recorded, giving you more creative control.

“Worldizing,” described by Alan Meyerson in the video Alan Meyerson Mixing Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, is similar but doesn’t use a guitar amp. It involves running recorded audio through a speaker or speakers in a studio live room, mic’ing them and often adding effects to the new tracks to make them sound bigger, different or further game. Working in the large live room at Abbey Road Studios, Myerson added significant character to selected tracks that he’d just recorded in a massive, 740-track orchestral session.

“This is such an organic piece of music,” Alan said. “I want it [the Worldizing version] to be sort of an organic version of what processed music sounds like.”

The setup for the half-day Worldizing session featured three speakers in the live room, each with its own feed from the console. The left and right speakers aimed toward the room's front, and the center speaker was turned around. Alan was able to send any track to any of the speakers.

Alan’s Worldizing Pro Tools session.

“This idea of combining live ambience with nasty flangers and crazy delays—the sounds became like almost a beast,” he says. He plays an example in the excerpt from a Tibetan Horn track that he gave a menacing flavor to with the additional ambience plus effects.

Worldizing Roots

Alan explains that the idea of Worldizing came about in the days before digital technology when you had to get creative if you wanted to alter the texture of a recording. “It was a very creative time,” Alan explains. “You had to come up with ideas for how to [get different sounds].”

Alan says the technique's pioneer was Walter Murch, the sound designer on the 1979 classic Apocalypse Now. “They would put stuff through a speaker in a room or put stuff through a bullhorn or put stuff in some different environments,” Alan says. “[They might] have a speaker out on the other side of a door and record it through the door and stuff like that.”

After that, Alan began experimenting with the technique when mixing film scores. He names The Prestige and Michael Clayton as two films in which he first utilized Worldizing. When an opportunity arose to try it at Abbey Road when mixing the score for Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, he tried it out, and the director was delighted with the results.

DIY

Mixing major film and video game scores gives Alan access to the best studios and gear, allowing him to use the Worldizing when appropriate. In a home studio, where you don’t have access to a large live room it’s a lot harder to accomplish. That said, there are a couple of things Alan mentions in the video that would be doable at home, such as capturing sound from outside the doorway of a room where it’s being played back or running it through a bullhorn or some other sound-altering device and then re-recording.

In addition, you can use software to accomplish similar results to re-recording audio through speakers in a large studio. Convolution reverbs with studio settings or other large-room settings are one way to go. Alternatively, a couple of plugins from Universal Audio are particularly suited to facilitate “digital Worldizing.” These plugins, UAD Ocean Way Studios and UAD Sound City Studios let you “re-mic” audio using the modeled acoustics and mics of the facilities they were named after.

UAD’s Sound City Studios plugin.

UAD Sound City Studios, in particular, has a setting designed to add ambience to electric guitar, which also works to imbue any source with the acoustics of that studio’s live room, which is the essential idea of Worldizing. Similar to what Alan demonstrated in the excerpt, this setting from the plugin features virtual speakers inside the live room whose output is captured by a choice of modeled microphones. You can also add effects such as compression, EQ and reverb from inside the plugin.

This screen shows the setup for the first example.

Here’s an example featuring a MIDI string section loop. First, here’s the basic loop.

 

Next, we’ll add the Sound City Studios plugin using its Re-Mic feature, with the PA Live setup and mostly room mics in the mix.

 

Those pedestrian string samples now sound a lot bigger and have more depth.

If you want more extreme results, you can add additional effects. For instance, in the next example, you’ll hear the same sample through the Sound City Studios plugin, but this time with Overdrive, Vari-Pan, Compressor, Phaser and Delay from the Rhodes V-Rack plugin.

 

No Bullhorn

Alan mentioned using a bullhorn to alter the sound of a source. You can achieve this effect using McDSP’s Futzbox plugin. It features a huge list of what the company refers to as Synthetic Impulse Responses (SIMs) captured from a vast range of electronic devices from bullhorns to cell phones to garbage cans, various speaker types and more. You can also apply distortion, down-sampling, gating, ducking and filtering.

Here’s a short passage from a sampled French Horn section.

 

Here it is with Futzbox applying a megaphone SIM and some high-pass filtering.

McDSP’s Futzbox with the setting from the example.

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