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From Chace Audio

Walla is a term used to describe the (usually) indistinguishable background chatter from crowds on film and TV. Like the “oink” of a pig or “cock-a-doodle-doo” of a rooster, the word “walla” mimics the sound it is meant to represent. To the casual listener, the crowd noise in a subway scene or a school hallway sounds kind of like “wallawallawalla.”

Walla is not recorded on-set. When shooting a scene, crowds must be completely silent so that the actors’ voices can be recorded clearly. Special loop groups are hired during post production to record this background chatter, which is later mixed into the final track. These performers use nonsense words or nonsensical phrases to make walla indistinguishable from any actual language.

Occasionally, language specific “call-outs” will be discernable in the walla. An angry crowd may include a few call-outs like “get outta here” or “get him!” These call-outs can be flagged on QC reports from foreign territories as needing to be dubbed, so conscientious record keeping of language-specific walla is useful throughout the servicing life of a film or television show.