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3D Sound Synthesizer

August 17, 2018

A software program calculates the sounds made by animated objects.



Modeling the sound of animated objects. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Animators create realistic 3D characters and objects for films. But the sounds they make are created the old-fashioned way, by sound effects artists and recordings of actual objects. Now Stanford computer scientist Doug James and his team have introduced a sound synthesizer that analyzes animated objects– say, a plastic bowl falling on the floor– calculating and recreating the resulting sound.

[sound of bowl falling]

DOUG JAMES (Stanford University):

And it does that by knowing basically how all the vibrations of all the surfaces when, say, a bowl hits the ground or water splashes around, how the vibrations of those surfaces produce the sound.

[water sound]


He says the software could not only create sound for films, but could also let engineers listen to new products before they exist, to help them eliminate annoying hums, whirs and rattles. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon