Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web


November 4, 2011  11:18 PM

More on audio editing



Posted by: Roger King
Amadeus sound editor, editing audio, wave editing

Recently, we have been looking at the process of editing and cleaning sound.  See the previous three postings: cleaning and editing(1) and editing(2).

Then we looked at the interface to a very popular Mac wave editor, Amadeus Pro in a recent posting.

Today, we continue with Amadeus.  Below are series of screen captures, taking us through the process of making two tracks, removing the beginning of one track, then grabbing a piece of the second track, and then gluing the two together into a single seamless track:

1. Record with the red button:

2. Add a second track using the Track drop-down from the top menu and record again.3. Swipe the beginning of the first track, which contains only noise.4. Cut that piece out.5. Here is the result. 6. Swipe a piece from the second track and do a copy.
7. Paste it at the end of the major audio section of the first wave.  Then, cut out the end of the first track.More on audio editing soon.

October 24, 2011  5:12 AM

Editing sound: a look at the Amadeus wave editor



Posted by: Roger King
Amadeus, sound editing, wave editors

Recently, we have been looked at the process of editing and cleaning sound.  See the previous three postings: cleaning and editing(1) and editing(2).

Today, we will look at a very popular Mac wave editor, Amadeus Pro.  This is what it looks like:

Let’s look at what appears on the Amadeus interface:

The sound wave.

The bottom half of the interface shows us a stereo sound wave.  It has been created by using the Record button, which sits on the top left of the interface; it is red and is just to the right of the three Playback Controls (Play, Reverse, and Forward).

The Playback window.

In the upper right hand of the image is a small window that has been overlaid on the main window.  It contains the playback controls, along with the left and right channel meters.

If we hit the play button, the meters will come alive:

The Selection window.

There is a second overlaid window, and it shows us the current selection.

If we swipe a piece of the sound wave, this is what it will look like:

The plugin dropdown.

There is something else in our main window.  It has to do with a very important notion that we find in almost all wave editors: plugin support.  This is how we get special sound effects.  There are two very popular formats, Audio Units (AU) and Virtual Studio Technology (VST).

In this case, we are looking at a plugin for cleaning sound that we have referenced in a previous posting of this blog.  It is iZotope’s RX 2 Denoiser.

If we select it, this is what pops up:

More soon…



October 7, 2011  8:34 PM

You are editing sound: remember the two C’s



Posted by: Roger King
audio, cleaning and editing audio, sound editing

This blog is dedicated to emerging web design and media management technologies.

Lately, we’ve been looking at the process of editing and cleaning sound.  See the previous postings: cleaning and editing software.

My experience is largely with voice, and so please don’t look here for advice on editing music…

Today we look at a couple of goals to keep in mind when editing sound: Consistency and Continuity.

Consistency.

One of the main problems with weaving together sections of audio that were recorded at different times is that the background noise, the volume of sound, and overall fullness of a voice will vary.

This happens even when you try your best to recreate the same recording environment.  It can be even worse if you change locations or microphones or the software being used to clean and record.

So, try to clean the sound thoroughly so that background noise is not an issue.  Level the sound over the entire final clip.

The hardest one is giving the voice the same depth or richness.  The best way to achieve this is to use a good microphone, record in a place without too many reflective surfaces, and always have the microphone at the same distance.  In other words, try to keep a constant fullness in the voice – since it is very hard to fix later.

Continuity.

Another key problem when putting voice fragments together is making sure the edit points are not audible. The best way to avoid this problem is to use a good editing program.

Also, when making your initial recordings, choose logical places to stop.  Don’t stop in the middle of a paragraph.  Try to get to the end of a section or chapter.  This way, any subtle but sudden changes in the sound are unlikely to be noticed.

More next time…


September 22, 2011  2:43 AM

Great (and inexpensive) sound editors



Posted by: Roger King
Amadeus, audio editing, Audiofile Wave Editor, NCH WavePad, sound editing, Sound Forge Audio Studio, Sound Studio, TwistedWave

In the last posting of this blog, we looked at software to clean audio.  Today, we look at software for editing audio – something that you of course must have before you start worrying about cleaning audio.

As it turns out, the programs listed below can use the cleaning plugins discussed in the previous blog posting – although not all of them can use all of these plugins.

PLEASE NOTE. I could not get the IT Knowledge Exchange WordPress system to put in proper paragraph breaks in the posting below, so I have posted a more readable version on the website I keep for my animation classes: wordsbybuzz.com.  I don’t know why I have so much trouble with the IT KE system; I imagine I am doing something wrong…?

Recording voice.

I teach Introduction to 3D Animation at my university and record my desktop and my voice for each class sessions.  I post them so students can review them later.  (See wordsbybuzz.com and 3dbybuzz.com.) I also write fiction on the side and like to read and record my stories.  (See lheureux.co and buzzlheureux.com.)

What are sound editors?
Broadly speaking, there are two classes of sound programs.  The more complex ones are for musicians who want to record and mix, and who might want to use electronic instruments and synthesizers.  These are called Digital Audio Workstations (or DAWs).  The simpler ones are what we are concerned with here.  These are “wave” editors that provide support for recording, editing, and adding effects to sound.  They are used heavily by podcasters.
Cheap but very good ones.
I mentioned a few of these programs in the previous posting, but I didn’t point out the ones that are cheap and are still very good programs.  Because of the competitive market for these products and because more expensive wave editors often have cheaper, slightly cut-down versions intended for small studios or individuals, the prices can be surprisingly low.
Here are some good Mac wave editors that are full featured, have elegant interfaces, and are reasonably cheap: Sound Studio, NCH WavePad, Amadeus, TwistedWave, and Audiofile Engineering’s Wave Editor.  The first four are available on the Apple App store and the last one is available on the Audiofile-Engineering site.  If you choose to buy TwistedWave on their site, you have the choice of downloading a 64 bit version. Some might find the Audiofile product clumsy because it involves juggling multiple windows, but it is very powerful.
Here are a couple Windows wave editors that are full featured and are also quite cheap.  The first one is the best buy out there, including Mac or Windows wave editors: Sony’s Sound Forge Audio Studio and the Windows version of the NCH WavePad product (it is a very different program than their Mac product).  Sound Forge has a very nice interface, but the WavePad product looks a little dated (unlike their Mac product).  Buy Sound Forge on Amazon, and it is even cheaper.
Free!
There is one that runs on both Macs and Windows machines, and it is free: Audacity.  It is a very nice product.  There are a number of other Windows-only free wave editors, but all of the ones I have downloaded and tried are dated and appear to no longer be maintained.
More next time on how to record, edit, and clean voice.


September 3, 2011  2:30 AM

Cleaning voice recordings for Web postings: 3 great products



Posted by: Roger King
Amadeus Pro, audio, audio editing, Bias Peak, cleaning audio, Izotope DeNoiser, Sonnox DeNoiser, Sound Studio, Soundsoap, Wavelab

Important:  I have had a lot of trouble trying to embed images in the IT Knowledge Exchange WordPress blog, and so if you want to see this posting including images, please see the blog I maintain for my animation students: wordsbybuzz.com.

Recording voice for web postings.

I teach Introduction to 3D Animation at my university and record my desktop and my voice for each class session.  I post them so students can review them later.  (See wordsbybuzz.com and 3dbybuzz.com.) I also write fiction on the side and like to read and record my stories.  (See lheureux.co and buzzlheureux.com.)

The problem of cleaning audio.

In both cases, I find myself trying to clean audio.  Since I’m far from an audio expert, I’ve searched around for easy to use plugins that do a good job of removing noise without giving my voice a hollow sound – and without me having to futz around with the settings forever and manipulate audio parameters I don’t understand.

Three great products.

Here are three great out-of-the-box audio cleaning plugins that work with such applications as Bias’s Peak, Steinberg’s Wavelab (my favorite), Amadeus Pro (see the Apple App store), and Sound Studio Pro (see the Apple App store).  (Please note that I use Macs and that not all of these plugins work with all of these applications.)

Bias Soundsoap.

See the Bias site for details on Soundsoap.  It comes in multiple versions, from very cheap to not so cheap.  It comes with a lot of different audio editors, and even their very cheap “SE” product works great.  Bias’s Peak Express, by the way, is a great deal in a professional quality audio editor.

Sonnox DeNoiser.

See Sonnox for details on their DeNoiser.  This one is pretty expensive, but comes with Wavelab Elements, a very good deal in a high end wave editor.

Izotope RX 2 DeNoiser.

See Izotope for details on RX DeNoiser.  This one is pretty expensive.

More on this next time…


August 22, 2011  4:00 AM

Not yet another mail client: Postbox



Posted by: Roger King

The world, especially the Mac world, is not suffering from a lack of email client programs.  But we are short of mail clients that are both full featured and fast.  Not to mention ones that can handle virtually any mail service out there, don’t crash, don’t trash your mail, and look nice.

I use both Mac X and Windows 7 machines, and until recently, used the native Mac mailer and Windows Outlook.

The Mac mailer.

The Mac mailer is reasonably simple and elegant in appearance.  I’ve used it with many different mail providers, and it has never trashed my mail.  But searching is incredibly slow.  This is a killer for me, since I have to process libraries that contain many thousands of messages.

Another problem with the Mac mail client is that it’s fairly rudimentary.  It lacks a lot of amenities.

Outlook.

Windows Outlook, on the other hand, is stuffed to the gills with features and searches on it are reasonably fast. But I it takes forever to open, almost literally.  And it freezes up from time to time.

In comparison, Postbox – click here – which runs on Macs and Windows machines and sits in just the right place on the features vs. performance spectrum.  I use it to process mail on 11 different mail accounts, it has some nice extras, it opens fast, and it searches my mail at lightning speed.

Postbox.

Give it a try.  And oh, it does cost money, but it’s cheap.


August 7, 2011  12:00 AM

The new generation of simple, elegant apps



Posted by: Roger King

Mega media apps.

I teach 3D animation at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  I use Autodesk Maya, the dominant 3D modeling, animation, and rendering application.  It is the most complex application I have ever used, with a vast, many-layered interface and tools that can be extremely difficult to learn to use effectively.

It is these two things that mark the old class of mammoth media applications that create and massage images, manipulate sound and video, and support the development of animated videos and games.  These applications have massive interfaces, with multiple layers of long menus, highly context-sensitive menu selections, myriads of floating palettes, etc., etc. They are also packed with tools that are geared toward professional users who demand tools that simulate sophisticated manipulations of media and give them highly detailed control over their workflow.

Newer, elegant and intuitive apps.

But especially in the Mac world, there is a new generation of media applications that are finding deep niches with sophisticated non-professional users.  Pixelmator is pushing aside Photoshop, Sound Studio and Amadeus are pushing aside Adobe Soundbooth and Bias Peak Studio.

Making a dent in the professional world.

Now there are applications emerging that are trying to win professionals over the “simple is better” philosophy.  I am not a professional photographer, sound editor, or video editor, but it seems like things are beginning to change in the professional world, as well.  The new Final Cut Pro video editing application from Apple is being met with stiff resistance from many users of older releases of the application who call it a hopped up version if iMovie.  The new one, called Final Cut Pro X, has what at least amateur users find a more natural and intuitive interface, and there are many tools that come loaded with presets that remove many fine grained decisions.

Professionals are beginning to take note

Professionals are also writing good things about Final Cut Pro X, however.

Traditional 3D modeling tools like Maya are phenomenally unwieldily, to the point of often seeming to behave randomly.  But there are newer modeling apps, like Silo that have clean interfaces and simple tools that can be learned in days and not years.  Professionals use it.

Sometimes these apps like Final Cut Pro X and Silo are call “prosumer” because they are seen as being somewhere between consumer and professional applications.  But maybe this new generation of apps will push aside the traditional big boys in both the amateur and professional worlds.

More later…


July 31, 2011  8:18 PM

Multimedia asset management: Together



Posted by: Roger King

Please note:  I have had trouble getting images (such as those below) to be readable on this blog, and so the blog entry below can also be seen on my teaching blog, wordsbybuzz.com.

I teach 3D animation at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  (My teaching website is 3dbybuzz.com.)  I have an Apple iMac with a 27 inch screen that I use as my main work machine and a MacBook Pro that I use as a teaching machine.

Together.

A daily problem for me is 1) collecting and organizing the materials I need for class and 2) moving them from my desktop machine to my notebook.

A very easy to learn and use application is Together (see their website and the app store).

Here’s are a couple of screenshots:

Together creates “libraries”, each of which contains categorized media assets, with defaults of Notes, Documents, Images, Sounds, Movies, Booksmarks, and Web Pages.  It’s exactly what I need to organize the visuals I need for a lecture.

The Multimedia nature of animation.

It’s the highly multimedia nature of teaching 3D animation, including single image and video fragment renderings, soundtrack fragments, and lessons formatted as webpages that presents an organizational challenge.  Together addresses this in a simple way.

Together also supports “Groups” which can be used to further categorize assets that have already been brought into the application.

Synchronization?

Together also supports synchronization among multiple machines by using Dropbox, which I have to admit I have had some trouble with.  I find that the sync process often misses a number of pieces of assets.

But all in all, it’s a great multimedia organizational tool.



July 24, 2011  4:17 AM

The other spectrum of education scaling



Posted by: Roger King

Making university education scale.

I teach 3D animation at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  Universities have been struggling in recent years to make education scale, and by that we mean teaching hundreds or thousands of students at a time. We pack students into theatre style classrooms and hire teaching assistants to field questions and grade homework.

There just isn’t enough content delivered during a given class meeting.

But teaching animation – which demands of students countless hours of detailed work to master modeling and animation techniques – has caused me to think about the other way in which we need to make university education scale: delivering a body of knowledge far too large to be shoe-horned into a university course slot.

The problem is the very small amount of face time that students get with professors.  This problem is getting worse as universities struggle for new revenues, and as a result, take professors out of the classroom and commission them to focus on writing research grants.  (This is what is happening at my university, especially in the school of engineering, where I am rostered.)

The old days: Go read and memorize and prepare to spit it back.

The traditional answer is for the professor to quickly and superficially overview a topic and then order the students to go home and read a detailed chapter – on which they will subsequently be examined.

Using the Web: a potent alternative.

But the Web provides a road to a better solution: audio, video, and multimedia presentations that fill in the gigantic gaps and that students can selectively watch.  And, students can fast-forward when necessary, which provides a fairly effective way of optimizing their time.

Another thing I do is augment the library of extended lessons with a weekly blog as a way of maintaining a sense of direct contact outside of class lessons.

My two animation class sites are: 3dbybuzz.com and wordsbybuzz.com.

More soon…


July 19, 2011  10:43 PM

Websites versus Web services, part 2



Posted by: Roger King
the Semantic Web, web applications, web services

In the previous posting, we took a shot at defining the term “web services”. We continue that discussion today.

The quiet growth of web services.

Since part of the idea is that we don’t have to directly interact with web services by using a browser, their explosive growth has been very quiet. Many websites are powered by input they get by using web service APIs. These second-hand websites are often called “portals”, and many portals integrate information from a number of sources and give us access to information that would otherwise be intractable for us to find on our own.

The relationship between web services and the Semantic Web.

In fact, web services underscore the difficulty in making a sharp distinction between the Semantic Web and Web 2.0/3.0, something we talked about recently. Both of them depend highly on automating the movement of information around the Internet.

And information “portal” sites commonly rely on web services to automatically fetch information from multiple sources. Web services are thus a critical building block for many of the multimedia, highly interactive websites that constitute much of the Web 2.0 effort.

So, a cornerstone of the Semantic Web – web services – also contribute greatly to the creation of Web 2.0 sites.

The bottom line.

Web services are transforming the web into something incredibly powerful and are a driving force behind browser-based information portal web sites, as well.


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