11 October 2006

The Sound of SiLence

Torley got me thinking about how sound is used in SL. I often use sound in my builds. Doors creak, electrical effects hum, cannons boom, water splashes, I've got environmental birdsound/crickets tied to night and day... I think part of why it is so rarely used is because of the links to scripting. People in SL for the most part seem so convinced that they could never learn to script that they won't even try. A movie without sound isn't immersive, and for me the same is true of builds in SL.

One of the things in SL I really don't like is the lack of default sound associated with water. A silent ocean doesn't do much for me.

You can set a music stream for a land parcel, but that's not tailorable to any smaller area (like only inside a building.) Potentially one could break up a land plot into tiny parcels and set each one. Might be useful for buildings. Connecting parcels with the same music station sound seemless as you cross them, so walking around outside the building the sound shouldn't stutter or go out of sync. (I hadn't thought about using mini-parcels this way before, but I think I'll have to try it!) Since parcel music streams aren't tied to a height it'd sound odd when you fly over the building. Still would be classy for no-fly zones... Land Parcel music streams can be set via script too, so one could change music streams based on the time of day, etc... I wonder if there's free-to-connect streams dedicated to environmental sounds? The background hustle of a city, wind and animal sounds in a forest, surf and the occasional sea bird, underwater soundscapes...

Sounds tied to a prim are more complicated. They have to be scripted, and they come in a max of ten second soundbites. If you loop sound, you can remove the script and (if I remember correctly) the sound from the prim's inventory while the noise continues - looping sounds have to be turned off like particles. Wonder if there's a small builder market for noisy prims? ;)

The lack of a sound-prim interface in the edit tab is another area that screams "BETA!" to me. If you only have one sound inside a prim, why doesn't it loop it by default? Or let you set a couple properties like loop, play on touch, play at specified interval, etc. ?

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