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“A truth whispered among animators is that 70 % of a show’s impact comes from the sound track”

Animation sound can be…

Pre-synchronous (ie. Disney’s Fantasia)
Post-synchronous (as in my case)

Usually animation is synced to a pre-existing soundtrack rather than the other way around. My justification for producing images before sound:

Michel Dougherty: (in The Animation Book)
For most people starting in animation, the picture comes first and accompanying music, sound effects, and voice elements are usually added once the picture itself is completed or “locked”. Starting out with a locked-down track can actually be an impediment if your project is experimental or abstract. In such cases it is smart to make visuals compelling before starting the track work. If you can make your piece work without the benefit of any audio, bank on the fact that it will be even more powerful once your sound has been added.

Unfortunately, the nature of the collage media I am using makes it rather difficult to predict timings, though I have done timecode plans and estimate the entire animation to last about two minutes. Some of my earlier posts in March showed my earlier research into soundtracks and possible sources. It’s getting rather late in the game, so the music is being pushed to the top of the agenda again. I plan to leave at least a week free after final render to sync in some decent sound effects (ie. train whistling, fire burning, wave crashing) and a background soundtrack. In one of our lectures today, Mark Power was playing around in Garage Band and Soundtrack Pro. My background in sound mixing is limited but these programs do most of the work for you. After the lecture, I shifted over to the mac labs and spent about an hour going through the sound library and testing out simple combinations. I’ve made a list of potential tracks to mix so once the render is complete I will go back onto the Mac and produce the audio. It’s taken a lot of the worry out of it, as it doesn’t seem too difficult to mix up something half decent. The biggest concern I have with the tracks I found off the web was the low or scratchy quality – especially for the circa 1800 tracks. I can still import snippets of the Stephen Foster’s “Whoa Nellie! Hey Nellie!” chorus into the track, if it suits.

Another important note from Introductiont to Animation Sound @ FilmSound.ORG:
“Non-synchronous music has not been carefully timed to fit the picture. Because music and film both are “time arts”, it is inevitable that any selection will synchronize with the picture at random points, and even nonsynchronous music severs as a “bed” for the action throughout”.

I also found a useful tutorial on Creative Cow about force syncing animation to audio using frame markers in AE.


Let’s dissect it a little and see what’s going on. The first two lines of the expression use the new capability added to After Effects 5.5 that allows access to layer marker properties. The first line creates a variable called “hit” that is the time at which the first (and in this case – only) layer marker of “r arm comp” occurs. The second line defines a variable “t” that is the difference between the current comp time and the time of the nearest layer marker in the “drums.wav” layer (which has a layer marker for each drum hit). The last line simply adds the two variables and the result gets plugged into the time remapping property of “r arm comp”. What does all this accomplish? Consider the case when the comp time is exactly the same as one of the layer markers in “drums.wav”. In that case, “t” will be zero, which means that “r arm comp” will have its time remapped to its own “hit” marker. The net result of this is that wherever there is a layer marker in “drums.wav”, “r arm comp” will be time-remapped to the point where the drumstick hits the drum. In fact, the whole range of animation around the “hit” point in “r arm comp” gets remapped to sync up with the layer markers in “drums.wav”.




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