by Hart Shafer
Every day, creative pros are asked to do more of the steps in a creative project themselves, and audio work is no exception. While sometimes you may have a dedicated audio expert to lean on, often the audio work is left to the nearest designer who has a spare cycle. George Lucas was famously quoted as saying, "Sound is 50 percent of the moviegoing experience." For many projects, that is also true with Flash®.
Here are some tips on how to use Adobe Soundbooth™, Adobe's new beta application, to get through a few common audio tasks you can perform to ensure that your projects sound as good as they look. Soundbooth was built for creative pros who don't have a background in audio, which includes Flash designers and developers, video editors, and motion graphics artists. The task-based tools in Soundbooth, combined with these tips, will get you up to speed on what you need to know to get great results. You can grab a preview copy of the Soundbooth beta from the Adobe Labs site.
While many tools can make a recording sound better after it's finished, nothing can substitute for making it sound good to begin with. Here are a few ways to make the best possible recording — even without a sound studio:
Once you're set up for recording, you're ready to dive into Soundbooth. This video includes:
Whether you need to polish your recording to add punch or clarity or you're looking for an otherworldly sound, effect filters can help you get the sound you want. Voiceovers commonly use compression, EQ, and reverb to add presence and depth. A compressor reduces the difference in volume between the loudest and quietest parts of clip, which makes a voice sound fuller. The EQ tweaks the volume of different frequencies and can add clarity to a voice. Finally, the reverb adds a little bit of presence, making a voice sound like it's in an acoustically pleasing environment.
Soundbooth includes a wide set of effects, including polishing filters like EQ and compression, as well special effects like echo and distortion. This video includes:
Flash designers frequently want to pull a loop of audio out of a larger piece of music to play in the background of their project. The best music to pull loops from has a steady tempo, and the easiest loops are consistent across their whole length. Loops that contain ramping moods over an intro or outro often sound odd.
Once you know which snippet you'd like to make into a loop, Soundbooth has some dedicated tools to help you select the right area and save it as a new file. This video includes:
Sometimes pulling a music loop is all you need to do, but other times a project demands customized music. That's where the Soundbooth AutoComposer comes in.
With AutoComposer, you can load one of the specially created Soundbooth scores and then customize it to match the length and mood of your project. A Soundbooth score is a full song created by musicians, but it includes extra audio as well as a bunch of metadata that together enable Soundbooth to modify the song based on your instructions. This video includes:
Synchronizing audio and video elements with animation in Flash can be challenging. One way to help solve this problem is to use cue points and ActionScript to trigger the animation at the right point in the timeline. However, creating and managing these cue points can be awkward.
Soundbooth enables you to create new cue markers while recording, playing, and editing. Once they're created, you can specify whether the cue type is event or navigation, as well as add any number of name and value pairs that can be accessed from ActionScript. When you're finished, export the list as an XML file and use it in Flash. Or in the final version of Soundbooth, you'll be able to export an FLV with the cue points embedded. This video includes:
Hart Shafer is the product manager for Adobe audio products.