Explorations in Audio

After 11 years of using the Director multimedia tool to create pieces such as dbCinema, Jig Sound, Arteroids, Nio, A Pen, On Lionel Kearns, War Pigs, F8MW9, The Idea of Order at Key West Re-Ordered, and Oppen Do Down, I’m attempting a major bit of re-tooling to Flash.

I’m interested in the audio capabilities of Flash. And I’m interested in the visual processing possibs of Flash. But in this post, I’ll show you why I’m interested in the audio capabilities of Flash. There’s some interesting work going on in Flash audio. Not too much actual art, at this point, that utilizes Flash’s new audio capabilities–by anyone. But there are some Flash pieces on the net that show some of the capabilities and poetential of the new Flash audio features. When you look/listen to these pieces, you’ll have to use your imagination to conceive of the artistic possibilities before you.

Flash now provides granular access to audio. Down to the level of the sample itself. This is unto audio what visual access down to the level of the pixel is to visual processing. It makes it possible to generate sounds and to process sounds.  One can create audio dynamically.

Also, Flash provides such granular access concerning audio from the microphone, as well as concerning mp3 files and sound playing in the computer.  The microphone possibs are interesting to me. One can make performance instruments, for instance. So that a person can rant and rave into the microphone and that audio is both processed, real-time, into whatever and, also, Flash responds visually to the audio.

Visual response to microphone input

Visual response to mic input

We can see this capability in http://blog.onebyonedesign.com/?p=416 . This piece requires Flash Player 10.1 or later–10.1 is not released yet, as of this writing, but there is a ‘candidate release’ available which you need to install if you want to view/hear this piece. In any case, what happens in the piece is you vocalize into your microphone and the piece reacts visually. We can imagine works where the visual response to microphone vocalizing is considerably more interesting and funkier.

We can also imagine the mic audio being processed, real-time, during the vocalizing, which brings us to the next couple of links.

There’s a Singapore group developing things such as http://labs.sonoport.com/audiostretch which lets you select an mp3 file from your computer, plays it, and lets you change the speed of the audio independent of the pitch, and lets you change the pitch independent of the speed.

Another demo by sonoport.com is at http://labs.sonoport.com/audioextender . This lets you choose an mp3 and then play it backwards or reverse it or apply a filter to it.

Another interesting demo–this one by Adobe–is at http://adobe.com/ap/products/flashplayer/features . This demo shows various Flash processing features, if you click where it says “FEATURES” on the left. Then click “Dynamic Sound Generation”. Then click “Guitar Rock” and select “Generated Sound”. This plays a basic tone and, as you move the mouse around, the tone changes. This demo shows how you can generate dynamic audio in Flash.

'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

The main Flash audio Guru seems to be a Belgian developer named Andre Michelle. You can see lots of his demos at http://lab.andre-michelle.com . He is the lead developer of http://audiotool.com , which is the most sophisticated audio tool on the net. And it’s developed with Flash. There are tutorials on how to use the ‘audiotool’ app at http://youtube.com/results?search_query=audiotool .

I’ve also been reading a great deal about Flash audio. By Googling key ActionScript terms and going to, mainly, blog entries where techniques are discussed.

I’m progressing very slowly at this stuff. Learning this sort of stuff, I find that for the first several months my speed is excruciatingly slow. Really painfully slow. It hurts. Ouch. My brain. It takes me a day sometimes to figure out what to do next and then another day to face the cortical pain of doing it. Either that or I am a lazy whining dog. OK I’m a lazy dog. But–and this is my only saving grace–if I am a lazy dog, I am also like a dog with a bone when it comes to learning this stuff. I don’t give up.

Finally, here is a page of annotated links I put together concerning interactive audio art works on the net. These are in a variety of technologies, not just Flash. There are also links, toward the bottom of the page, to writings about interactive audio, and links to videos about offline work. And here are all the interactive audio art works I’ve made, so far.

One Response to “Explorations in Audio”

  • [...] a Flash audio library of code called Sion. I’ve seen a related and probably earlier piece by Andre Michelle, the Flash audio guru. But it’s very charming nonetheless. You click on squares to [...]

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