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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally got around to "building" an effect that I've had in mind for years: I'll have an old rotary phone on a small table in front of the house, and when someone approaches, my computer will make the phone ring and play a spooky audio file to it when it's answered. But now that I've got it working, I realize that I don't have a source for the sort of audio that I've had in mind. What I'm wanting is a sort of low-fi, distorted, voices from "across the divide" ... sort of a Stranger Things Season One feeling that gives the sensation that you've received a call from someone who is stuck in another dimension, or calling from beyond the grave, or otherwise trying to connect over a vast distance and great divide. Anything along these lines come to mind? From a tv show or movie, maybe?
 

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Why not record your own message and apply some fx to it in free audio editing software such as Audacity? That way you can also include references to your haunt, events or landmarks in your area and maybe some people who live there.

First thing that comes to mind is Reverse Reverb which has been used in quite a few movies for this sort of thing:


The above is not a great example audio-wise (no actual words being spoken) but it does show how to do it clearly step by step.

Another often used trick is pitch-shifting the original audio, usually to a lower pitch but higher is also an option, and mix that in with the original. The pitched could be shifted down one or two octaves or just a few semitones. You can also add multiple pitch-shifted versions. Mix to taste. If you combine this with the Revere Reverb it's probably best to first do all the pitch-shifting and then do the Reverse Reverb on the entire mix.

Maybe the old rotary phone's electronics and speaker will already make it sound like a phone connection but otherwise you could also apply a 'phone line' effect (often available as a standard effect but I don't know if Audacity has it) which is essentially just a frequency filter that removes everything below 300Hz and above 3.4kHz. You could also throw in some crackle and noise perhaps to convey a sense of distance. And season the whole thing with another helping of normal reverb. Experiment with the amount of reverb vs direct signal.You could try using plate or spring reverb rather than the default high quality modern reverb algorithms to give a metalic edge to it all.

You could also try applying other audio fx such as all types of distortion, flanger, phaser, chorus, ring modulator etc.

EDIT: Another trick is to record the audio speaking very slowly or very rapidly but with a (more or less) normal voice and then speed up or slown the recorded audio.

You could also try actually speaking in reverse yourself: first record normally, reverse the audio and listen, then try to replicate the reverse recording with your own natural voice and record that and then reverse that. I believe that was used in Twin Peaks in the Red Room.
 

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Just wanted to add: the choice of voice actor and their performance will have a great impact on the end result. You'll have to think about what sort of impression you want to convey exactly and how to get that accros. Is it a ghost or demon they will be hearing, or perhaps some girl trapped in another dimension?

You could use a forced voice instead of a natural voice, or whisper etc. Just reading out a few lines in a flat tone and expecting the fx do to all the work is not going to give the best result.
 

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I have done what Scary Smurf suggested before. I needed that sort of "Phone effect" for a movie I was working on. If you need someone to record it, I am volunteering.I do most of my recordings for my spook house and all sorts of stuff. Tell me what you want it to say and I'll get you something to try...
 

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OK, mc510... I just had some time tonight and thought I would record a handful of tracks for fun because I like this sort of thing, so here you go...Link If you like them then feel free to use them, if you want something specific just ask. I included some original audio for comparison and I tried different effects for sampling purposes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, thanks everyone for the great suggestions, and the pre-made audio tracks! I spent the past couple of days looking for audio that I could lift from movies or tv shows and struck out, so I'm all-in on the homemade stuff. Totally agree about the voice acting being as important as the effects ... like I've been imagining that one of my recordings is someone just saying something like "hello? hello? is anyone there? can you hear me? I don't know where I am; I can't find my way out; somebody is chasing me" etc etc, but I realized that this all relies on the voice really conveying fear! Plus the effects, which are the easy part. I was playing around with Audacity and Steve Harris's LADSPA plugins this morning; the best single one that I tried was appropriately named "Barry's Satan Maximizer." I can picture spending way too much time over the next year learning about audio FX!
 
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