|The Eighth Annual Interactive
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2003
Group Report: What is Is Interactive Audio? And What Should It Be?
A.K.A. "The Provocative Doorbells"
|Clint Bajakian; Bay Area Sound|
|David Battino; Batmosphere||Keith Charley; Creative Labs|
|Rob Cairns; Associated Production Music||Alain Georges (Dr. Mad); MadWaves|
|Mark Griskey; LucasArts||Danny Jochelson; Texas Instruments|
|Rob Rampley; Line 6||Facilitator: Linda Law; Fat Labs|
I. What is Interactive Audio?
Interactive Audio is sound produced by an Interactive Audio System.
So, what is an Interactive Audio System?
An audio system that is designed to have its pre-determined sonic behavior influenced in response to real-time events, and is comprised of an Interactive Audio Engine and Interactive Audio Data.
Direct vs. Indirect Input Stimuli
Reactive vs. Interactive
Current Examples of Interactive Audio Systems
Ableton Live (www.ableton.com)
Runtime Mixing System
Roland V-Synth (www.v-synth.com)
Game Audio Systems
Theme Parks (environmental response through, e.g., trip wires)
II. And What Should It Be?
An Interactive Audio System should include the following in order to be successful:
Examples of Potential Interactive Audio Platforms
III. Why Interactive Audio?
For many years, audio designers in the video gaming industry have been asking for tools and components for the creation of Interactive Music. Systems have come and gone and still satisfaction does not yet seem to have been achieved. For others, the question of Why still remains. Who or where are these hordes of consumers demanding interactive music scores to enhance their games? Who on the consumer side is even asking for interactive music for any purpose? Of course one could say, "Who ever asked for the hula-hoop or the pet rock?" Yet once these products were available hordes of consumers wanted them.
Unlike with the pet rock, however, there is already a huge consumer base for interactive music. Perhaps one of the biggest indications of this came on August 1, 1981, when a new television broadcast network called MTV first aired. Suddenly it was no longer satisfactory to simply record your music for audio-only playback. To satisfy the consumer, music video versions had to be made as well.
Also in the '80s, with technology rapidly advancing, a new type of musician was born. This musician replaced the traditional instruments with tools like the turntable and the audio mixer. Rather than study traditional methods of composition, this musician used technology to alter the physical aspects of sound itself. This musician could recycle existing music and remix it with other sounds to make something new.
So much has been evolving in interactive music that for the last two years a UK-based organization called IMA (Interactive Music Awards) has been highlighting and honoring the best in interactive music on the Web and elsewhere. The IMA seeks out and solicits content for submission in a number of categories to be judged in two ways. The first is by an expert panel of judges and the second is by vote from music fans.
In addition to leisure consumption, interactive music has taken a large part in musical education as well. Loads of Web sites offer musical experiences aimed at educating people about music creation. All levels of toys offer interactive systems that allow children and adults to take part in music creation without having learned to play a traditional instrument.
With all that is going on with interactive music today, there are still many artists who can see new paths to take. For some, the necessary tools or methods do not yet exist, but it is obvious that continuation in the design of interactive systems and platforms will continue to help satisfy the consumer demand.
IV. Conclusion and Recommendations
There is a documented trend toward interactivity in many areas. Consumers, especially young ones, are demanding dynamic, creative activities instead of passive, static ones. Remixing and downloading are extraordinarily popular. Interactive audio has the potential to feed that demand. However, if it is poorly implemented, it could stifle innovation and disappoint this important new audience. Standardizing a framework for interactive audio systems now could ensure that the next generation of audio-based applications is rewarding for everyone.
There are many examples of a growing trend toward interactive audio in society today - on computers, video game consoles, home entertainment devices, and telephones; in cars, shopping and checkout systems, theme parks, museum exhibits, education centers, and more. The most advanced interactive and adaptive audio today is found in video games. As games become more sophisticated over the coming years, so too will other instances of audio that is played adaptively in response to user stimulus. The audio will be played back more and more intelligently, both in how it plays, and in what plays. For example, if a person were to say something to a robot, the robot's responses in today's state-of-the-art would be primitive compared to a human being's. But with Artificial Intelligence (AI) growing in leaps and bounds, and interactive audio systems improving across countless platforms and applications, demand for adaptive audio to be innovative and natural will increase and evolve.
That is why it is important to start now to develop a formal understanding of the main principles of what constitutes interactive audio so we can collectively design and share customized instances of those building blocks and simplify the design and production process for all industries seeking to enhance their products with interactive audio. Interactive audio is here to stay and will continually increase its presence in all types of human experiences. It makes the greatest sense to get the foundation properly established at the outset to avoid scattered efforts and incompatibilities, and to enable the greatest level of individualization of a solid, well-defined departure point.
V. Further Information
For more information on interactive audio and the progress on related standards, the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IA-SIG; www.iasig.org) is an excellent resource. In particular, its IXMF (Interactive XMF) working group is in the process of completing extensions to the XMF format specifically to address many of the topics that have been covered in this report.
VI. Action Items
Complete the report within 4 weeks
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