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Author: Shannon Zastrow at DoReMedia, Inc. | Website: http://www.doremedia.com

Using the Sync Track's Waveform Display to Help Create Dynamics

Lets IMPORT two more components from our Sound Family called Spankin_fill_01.aif and Spankin_crash.aif. Sound Family chunks have been engineered without drum fills and cross-phrase melodies for looping purposes. Because of the uniqueness of every multimedia project, having fills and melodies as part of the chunk would be a disadvantage. But fills and melodies add impact and dynamics, right? Isn't that why traditional loops get so mundane?

The answer is, yes. Loops alone are almost the opposite of dynamic and compelling. However, using the sync track and layerable audio components like drum fills, give you the ability to add these impact building elements back into our mix... when YOU want them.

Fills provided with Sound Families are always edited to be one or two full measures in length. This means that they will always align with a waveform spike on our sync track.

ADD a new LAYER and label it "FILLS". Lets look on our timeline to find frame number 240. This is where we switch from Spankin_A to Spankin_B.Go back one spike to frame 217 and insert a new keyframe {figure 10}.

Add the sound Spankin_fill_01, with a SYNC METHOD of EVENT.

Not bad, but there is one more thing we need to do to really give it punch. We need a cymbal crash at the end of the fill. ADD another LAYER and label it "CRASH". On frame 240 of this track, INSERT a KEYFRAME and select the sound Spankin_crash.aif from the sound menu {figure 11}.

Repeat the same process throughout your soundtrack to suit your taste. I have put the fill and crash on some transitions, while using only the crash on others.

Give it a play. You may need to adjust your volume levels so the drum fill and crash are mixed properly with your chunks.


Dealing with Seams and timing inconsistencies

Seams are small gaps or pauses between chunks or loops that are placed back to back. Depending on processor speed, playback quality may vary within Flash, causing small seams between chunks. However, if all chunks have been inserted in the correct frames, this should not be a problem upon export to SWF format.

If seams still exist in your exported movie, there are a couple of possible causes and resolutions.

The first reason you may experience seams is due to mis-matched frame rates and beats per minute. Flash's timing method is frames per second, while music is measured in beats per minute. The average ear can hear a 1/100 of a second gap in a solid music stream. So, if your frame rate is set at 10 frames per second, and your first chunk ends in the middle of a frame, you will have a 5/100 of a second space before the next chunks starts, causing a seam. This problem is solved by choosing frame rates and beat-per-minute rates that divide evenly. Basically the number of frames per beat must be a whole number.

To illustrate this better, go to MODIFY > MOVIE and change your frame rate to 12 FPS. Notice in the timeline that the audio waveforms no longer end precisely at the end of a frame.

All DoReMedia Sound Families are recorded at optimal BPM rates and engineered to have timing accurate to 1 millisecond. DoReMedia provides a BPM to Frame Rate calculator which is available free for all registered users.

If you are using frame-optimized sound files such as a Sound Family, and still experience timing inconsistencies upon export, there are a couple of work arounds.

  • Re-export your movie. Sometimes the process of encoding MP3 files can make slight variations in the length of the audio file.
  • Stagger the start of your sync track and the start of your chunks by selecting all frames and sliding them back to frame 5 or so. Then move the sync track back up to frame one {see figure 12}. This will give the sync track a little extra time to "take hold". It's best to do this just before publishing your movie so you can take advantage of the visual reference of the sync track during production.
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Added: 2001-02-13
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