sound effects

BBC recreates old radio sound effects machines using lightweight, open source Web Audio API

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 1:00pm

The BBC's R&D Department has launched a prototype showcase for four web-based simulations of BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound effects machines of old.

"Back in 1958," reports ReadWrite.com, "the then relatively young medium of radio demanded sound effects like gunshots and new music for a growing line-up of audio programs. To meet the needs of show producers, the BBC launched the Radiophonic Workshop, a sound effects lab where musicians and sound engineers created fake gun shots by slapping rulers on a table, used analog tape loops and built pre-synthesizer sound effects machines."

Now, results similar to what these machines produced can be generated by web applications built without Flash, using the open source Web Audio API (which processes and synthesizes audio in a web browser).

Here's why this is important, according to the ReadWrite: "For the last two or three years, developers have been moving away from clunky, proprietary technologies like Flash and Silverlight and, whenever possible, using HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build complex interfaces and embed multimedia. The result is a smoother experience that works across devices and browsers without the need for extra plugins."

Read more here. Try the effects yourself here (links to the generators are at the bottom). Finally, ReadWrite has a URL for the Web Audio API, but this one seems to work better.

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