The ambience table: A serious gaming interface for aiding sound design
Jönsson A., Breslin R., Ma M.
Ambient sound plays a critical part in all media related to the moving image, video games, and live performance. It defines its place and time, temporalizes it to towards a future goal and is key in creating audience immersion and belief in what we see. The process of recording, manipulating or designing audio elements is usually handled by competent professionals. Can a different approach be had to the way we design sound ambiences and what relationship and role does ambient sound have to media such as film and games? Using object-oriented programming environment, Max/MSP, a low-cost serious gaming interface was designed and implemented - the Ambience Designer. This rids the process of its esoteric nature and together with an especially crafted tabletop interface allows amateurs to design and interact with the ambient sounds of birds, wind and traffic for home movies and indie games. The Ambience Designer removes the esoteric ways of audio design in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and use intuitive user input that connect with our every day subjective experience of sound - such as distance, placement, and intensity - in place of parameters that only professionals could understand and use. Future developments include moving the Ambience Designer to a commercial multi touch table/tablet such as Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad which will enable us to utilise more intuitive, multi-touch gestures such as tap, scroll, pan, rotate, and pinch. The Ambience Designer was evaluated among working professionals, amateurs and the general public and initial findings were promising. During the survey, participants also suggested some future applications of the Ambience Designer, such as a creative and educational tool for children or people with special needs, for therapeutic purposes, to trigger memories in elderly, for digital storytelling and post-production sound dubbing for picture. © 2013 Springer-Verlag.