Bump It

When I tried to come up with an idea for a radio bumper, dozens of ideas came to mind. Probably many of them were not practical, would have taken hours to track down the clip I needed, etc. So I decided to follow up on my animated gif by creating a bumper using audio from American Beauty (The greatest film of all time. Of all time.).

Generating this was a pretty involved process. For those interested in the steps I went through (on a Mac):

  1. I downloaded the American Beauty trailer from YouTube using PwnYouTube.
  2. I extracted the audio in MPEG Streamclip. Audacity also has the ability to do this if you import the mp4 as audio, but I found that I liked the quality of the audio better using MPEG Streamclip, and this way I have the audio file to work with in other programs. To extract it:
    1. Open the mp4 in MPEG Streamclip
    2. From the File menu select Export Audio…
    3. Save it as an aiff file
  3. In Audacity create a new Project.
  4. Go to File -> Import -> Audio. Select the aiff file.
  5. You can select and delete all of the audio you don’t want to use. You can also select the portion that you do want to use, then go to Edit -> Duplicate. Then close the track that contains the extra audio.
  6. To create the “DS106 Radio” audio:
    1. I found a free demo of an online text-to-speech program.
    2. For the voice, I used “Julie (US)” with an echo effect.
    3. To capture the audio into Audacity I used Soundflower. Setting it up as an input device requires changing your system preferences. There is a tutorial here. And don’t forget to change them back after!
  7. I then trimmed out the dead air portions when I was switching from Audacity to the browser and then back.
  8. I decided that the transition between the clip from American Beauty and the text-to-speech was too rough, so I smoothed it by copying the music from the beginning of the film clip and lined it up with the text-to-speech at a reduced volume.
  9. I then exported the bumper as an mp3. This requires having the LAME encoder plug-in.

In all my years of listening to radio and the random 10-15 second audio clips they use, it never occurred to me how much work this can be. I’m sure in a radio studio the equipment available makes it easier. But that still doesn’t narrow down the number of options to choose from. Makes me glad I have the greatest film of all time to fall back on.

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