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Topic: Painting Sound Effects

  1. #1

    Painting Sound Effects

    Yesterday I had this idea that is, apparently, not new. I have been composing music for about 3 years for a series of stories I have been developing for (now on my second) screen play. My interests in sound generation extend to realistic sound effects in support of the 3D animation and effects that I have been also developing. My wife and I are international nature ecotourists and we have been to all continents (excepting Antarctica) looking for (mostly) birds and other wildlife. I am also a wildlife photographer. It is amazing how (especially song) birds have mastered the ability to make amazing sounds. The idea that came to me is to record these songs and produce a sonogram (using an FFT algorithm) that is represented digitally as an X-Y graph where the X-axis is time, the Y-axis is pitch and the darkness value (luma) represents amplitude. Sonagrams of this type are commonly given in bird field guides and are useful in species identification. However, I have always wondered whether you could take one of these sonagrams and render it back into sound to get something close to the original sound that was captured at the front-end of the pipeline. In my Internet research I turned up MetaSynth. It seems you can paint a sonagram yourself using something like Adobe Illustrator and render it into sound. It even uses one of the chroma channels for panning while, I believe, the luma channel is used for amplitude. You could even use another chroma channel for one of the other surround-sound channels or just RGB for three of the surround sound channels. It might even make sense to use the alpha channel for something. Anyway, MetaSynth only runs on the Mac . Does anyone know of other similar packages (that run on Windows-XP ) that can analyze sound in this way and turn around and produce sound using a modified or even composed sonagram using this graphical technique?

    What a powerful technique!



  2. #2

    Re: Painting Sound Effects

    I don't think this is what you are looking for, but Cameleon, by Camel Audio, allows the user to import a bit map of an image that is used the determine the sound. So, FWIW, here is what they say:

    Cameleon also allows you to import image (BMP) files and turn them into sounds. This offers an extremely powerful way to design never heard before sounds, and if you're ever stuck for inspiration, just try loading up any picture - perhaps a picture of your mum!

    Here is the link: http://www.camelaudio.com/cameleon5000.php

    For original progressive electronic rock influenced by J.S. Bach and (old) Rush, check out: www.soundclick.com/jeffreynaness.

  3. #3

    Re: Painting Sound Effects

    You could try Coagula, which is free. Or you could try Atmogen, which is not. Here are two more links:

  4. #4

    Re: Painting Sound Effects

    This might be a good solution for what you are looking for. The are some good features that might be especially good for your application, such as automatic stocastic (noise) sound removal.


    If you are interested in bird song notation you might also want to check out the ninth movement of Messiaen's Eclairs sur l'au dela.

    and lastly the acoustic ecology site @



    Student in Electro-acoustics

  5. #5

    Re: Painting Sound Effects

    Thank you Jeffn1, Ninth and talisman,

    These were all good leads. I played around with Coagula much of Saturday.
    I scanned a sonogram of Red Tailed Hawk from one of my old field guides and fed it to the program after some image manipuation. The resulting sound was similar but significantly degraded from what my memories of a RTH sounds like. But the basic timing and envelope was correct. Certainly the original sonogram was produced with some sort of analog analyzer. But the image I blew up was pretty tiny to start with. Sounds like it must require considerably more resolution in the image than what I supplied. Sometimes the conclusion to research is "needs more research". BTW, I found it very easy to produce something similar to a canary's song just using the paint feature.



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