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Chapter 15. Sound Design for Interactive Media

15. Sound Design for Interactive Media

Pro Tools is an excellent platform for creating music and voice-over narrations for use in interactive applications on CD-ROMs, Web pages, DVD-ROMs, kiosks, and so on. It’s also quite useful for creating sound effects associated with buttons and other hyperlinks—for example, while the cursor hovers over an object and when the user clicks the button or link. You can use many different programs to create media-rich interactive content that prominently includes audio and video files, at a decent resolution. The file formats and constraints for audio usage vary for each program and situation; you will need to ask the authors/programmers many questions up front before starting to design sounds for an interactive project.

The unfortunate truth is that, for educational and business-oriented interactive presentations (such as CD-ROMs and broadband Web pages with Flash content on the Internet or intranets within organizations), the budget for professional-quality, original audio is often dismayingly small. Among other things, this reflects the fact that many interactive authors come from graphic design backgrounds rather than from video or audio. They may be less cognizant than you might expect of just how much good audio enriches the texture and quality of the interactive experience. That’s why so many pieces are in circulation with noisy, poorly compressed narrations, generic button sound effects that were included with the authoring program or harvested from enthusiast Web sites, and other unfortunate audio. Indeed, you may have to sell these people on the benefits of using your services for professional sound design and recording. As always, the best approach is to lead by example. Bring your examples of killer button sounds, background loops, clean and present-sounding voice-overs with small file sizes, and so on. As a general rule, game designers assign slightly more priority to sound design. There is also some interesting work to be done in the creation of Standard MIDI Files for gaming environments using the General MIDI (GM) specification to assign sounds to MIDI channels, adjusting their Volume, Pan, and so on.


  

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