Sound Design: Using Audio as a Creative Tool
Museums and the Web 2000
In April of 2000, I delivered
a workshop presentation on Sound Design: Using Audio as a Creative
Tool at the annual gathering of museum web designers, Museums
and the Web, held in Minneapolis. Below is a brief outline; it is
also available online in the original Powerpoint presentation which
includes extensive lecture notes and links to a variety of sonified
web sites. [See explanatory usage notes at bottom of this page.]
The presentation offers a
review of good (and bad) sound design, proposes ground rules for designing
with sound, briefly covers currently available tools, and offers a consideration
of the future potential of web audio. It includes discussion of educational
applications, the field of sonification, and explores communicating
with sound--including a review of how sound is used as a manipulative
tool in film.
Description (from conference program)
of the most underutilized creative web design tools--can differentiate
your site, aid in the presentation and navigation of information,
and work with other design elements to create new experiences
online. Audio offers another means of exploring and understanding
the complex world we live in. Current research in the relatively
new field of "sonification," in fact, examines ways in which
sound can be used as another means of "visualization."
Meanwhile, at a more pragmatic level, the current revolution
in how music is being marketed and delivered online means
that the audio design tools are out there (and waiting to
be used). Popular browser programs now feature sophisticated
built-in sound support; plug-ins such as RealPlayer and Shockwave
and players like RealAudio and Beatnik deliver high quality
web sound. Bandwidth constraints are increasingly less relevant
as high speed and cable modems allow faster web access.
This workshop is NOT about the "how to"--it's about the "why"
of audio enhancement. It's not about MIDI versus streaming
audio, or which plug-ins and players are cool. It's about
why you would want to even bother with audio on a web page
in the first place. What does audio have to offer the web
community? Can it open new channels for learning--or make
information accessible in a new way? In what ways are museums
already using it--and how might it be used to even greater
effect? You'll learn more about the current state of technology
(with appropriate references to the "how-to"), see some sites
that offer interesting new uses of audio, and have a chance
to share your thoughts on creatively using sound as content.
Life is rarely silent
Why use sound?
What sound does
Web sound--still in its infancy
Sound as an immersion tool
use of nonspeech audio to convey information]
What makes “good” sound design?
Sites that demand sound
The next level
Do you need audio?
Sound and simultaneity
Ground rule 1: consider the user
We need a standard
Rich Music Format (RMF): Beatnik (with examples)
Sound conveys meaning
What do sound effects do?
Role of sound in film
Robert Bresson’s notes on sound
Communicating with sound
Internet is inherently multimedia
Next 18 months
- Use "back"
and "forward" icon buttons (located to right of slide)
to click through slides; you may also click "i" to access
the index page and "A" for a text-only version
- Links to web sites are
active--but may not work consistently on all browsers. (I've added
the actual URLs in text so that you may choose to access them through
an alternate route.)
- Please note you may
need to go in to a second level to see the element described, since
several of these are FLASH sites that require you to enter through
- The first demo from
Network Music can sometimes prove difficult to load, as can Sonicopia;
both are well worth the trouble.
- Use "back"
button to move from on-line site back to presentation slide: for
demo of Coke and Network Music (which don't want you to leave their
site once you've arrived!) you'll need to manually go back TWO levels
to the appropriate slide.
version too slow for you? Look at the TEXT-ONLY
VERSION (live links from slide text seem to work ok, but be
aware there are some additional bugs I haven't yet worked out with
the live links in the notes section beneath each slide).
My apologies for
poor visual quality: I will NEVER again do a presentation of on-line
materials in Powerpoint--it would have been easier for MANY reasons
to do it in straight HTML from the get-go!
You may not reproduce any portion of graphics,
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