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||Instruments and harmony
||Projects and settings
These are the most important controls in SonicPhoto. They're pretty self-explanatory...
Choose a preset!
SonicPhoto comes equipped with dozens of presets. Try them out to see a glimpse of what is possible to achieve. Also feel free to use any of the sounds once you've purchased the full version.
Load any drawing, picture, or photo from this button. You'll often find that darker pictures (e.g.: at night) produce more interesting sounds. When you load a picture in, the other options remain the same, so you can try out effects more easily.
If you've altered the picture through your art program (*say Photoshop), then "Reload picture" will update what you've done. This saves having to go the "Load picture" requester.
Save sound as...
Once you've clicked "Create or Play sound", your sound will be ready to save. Use the "Save sound as..." button to save a WAV file to disk (not available in demo version).
Once you've already saved a sound, this button will save over it without having to go to the "Save sound as..." requester.
Create or Play sound
The most frequently used option. When you want to hear what your sound is like, click this at any time (make sure you've loaded a picture in first of course). Space is also a shortcut to this button.
This stops the sound from playing, and also stops any calculation if it's in progress.
Click this for info about SonicPhoto.
Update / Upgrade
This allows you to update the demo or order SonicPhoto if you have the demo version, and update SonicPhoto if you have the full version.
Help from web...
Visits this page!
Often a picture will sound completely different when it's rotated 90 degrees, so be sure to try this out.
Reverses the sound picture and therefore the sound.
Flips the picture vertically. High frequencies become low and vice versa.
If you have a picture which is very bright, you can use this option to reverse the colours. This can completely change the sound.
This is on by default. If the sound is very quiet (or overloud/clipped), it will be automatically adjusted to be at 100% volume.
Stereo sound great, and so it's on by default. Make sure you also check out the "Stereo (%)" slider to adjust the amount of stereo.
Extra high quality
Unticked, SonicPhoto will produce pseudo 12-bit sound (or better) for previewing purposes. With it ticked, full 16-bit quality sound will be produced.
These form the bulk of the sliders and numeric boxes where you can tailor the sound in various ways. Feel free to use the mouse wheel over any slider (and press space to play back the resulting sound. You can also enter values in the numeric boxes which go beyond the visible range of the corresponding sliders if you really want to.
After normalizing the sound, SonicPhoto will then allow you to further adjust the volume to a quieter or louder degree (louder will produce distortion and could be dodgy for your speaker equipment, so use with care.
Adjust the 'stereo-ness' of the sound with this option. The demo can only produce 25% of stereo, whilst the Silver version can produce 50% (and the Gold edition - 100%).
Fade in (ms) / Fade out (ms)
This control has a dual purpose. The main use is to allow the sound to gradually fade in or out (setting the slider/value to maximum will just fade out over the entire sound).
The second reason is to prevent the tiny click/pop at the start/end of the sound, in which case a value of a tiny amount - 10-100ms is appropriate
If SonicPhoto is rendering too slowly, try lowering this value. For the final production sound, set it higher. Values beyond around 1000 make little difference to the sound (though in some cases, this can be as high as 2000-4000).
Lower quality is also sometimes desire to produce a strange cacophonic or droning sound sometimes, and higher values can often increase the quality of the stereo too, so be sure to experiment.
Sound time (sec)
Adjust the length of the sound in seconds. The demo can only produce around 10-20 seconds, so upgrade if you'd like more.
Lowest freq (Hz) / Highest freq (Hz)
These two controls set the minimum and maximum frequency of the sound. For example, if the lowest is set to 40 and the highest to 10000, that means the bottom of the picture will have sounds at 40Hz, and the top of the picture will emit waves at 10000Hz. All the pixels in between will be appropriately stretched.
Also notice the 'Feather' controls to the right. Each one corresponds to the control just to the left. Sometimes it is desirable to allow a little feather (0.5-3) for the Highest frequencies to soften them a bit. You could instead simply lower the 'highest freq' value, but this cuts them out altogether.
This sets how 'bright' the audio will sound. If set to a high value, the frequencies will be biased/curved/stretched towards higher frequencies (but no higher than the maximum you specified in the "Highest freq (Hz)" control. Vice-versa if set to a low value.
This determines whether the picture is mapped to the sound linearly or loagrithmically. In practice, it works out somewhat similar to the 'Brightness' control, so try both separately to see the difference.
Harmonics, Step, and H-Tone
By default, SonicPhoto will use a simple sine wave to produce all the pitches. However, you can adjust these to make a sharper, more 'gritty' sound by changing the 'Harmonics' found in the lower left corner (not to be confused with the 'Note harmonics' option found in the 'Instrument and harmony quantization' panel).
The 'step' value determines whether SonicPhoto should skip certain harmonics. A value of 2 will produce a square wave, and more than that will make the sound even more 'hollow'.
Finally, the 'H-Tone' value determines the brightness of any subsequenct harmonics (1 is default and means the drop off is proportional to the harmonic number; 2 means the dropoff is squared, producing a less bright, more muted sound).
To being out certain elements in the picture (and reduce darker areas), try adjusting this control. Raising the value will tend to make a sound less 'noisy' and more 'defined'.
Instrument and harmony quantization
This section will allow you to experiment with the vast harmonic possibilities available within SonicPhoto. Make sure you tick the "Active" checkbox to adjust them.
(Not to be confused with the 'Harmonics' value at the bottom-left of the window)
All tonal/instrumental sounds contain 'harmonics' which to put it crudely, define how 'sharp', 'bright' or how 'pure' the sound will be. The dropdown menu to the right allows various presets so you can immediately start experimenting.
Any combination of harmonics can be entered, but must be separated by semicolons. For example, "1;2;3;4;5" will be those 5 harmonics, but a shorter version would be "1 to 5". You can combine ranges like this: "1 to 10, 50 to 60", so that all harmonics from 1 to 10, and from 50 to 60 will be produced. Finally, you can adjust the 'step'. E.g: "1 to 10 step 2" will produce the following harmonics: 1;3;5;7;9
A lot of power is hidden inside this control. Essentially, it allows you to define the musical notes that make up the harmony/chord of the sound. As with the 'harmonics' section previously, experiment with the dropdown menu immediately to the right to try some of the in-built presets out.
Notes can be entered in standard pitch notation where C4 is middle C on a piano (C5 is an octave above, and C3 an octave below), OR alternatively by entering a number (0 = middle C, negative numbers go lower, and positive numbers ho higher).
Just like before you can make chords by separating each note by a semicolon. For example, "C4;Eb4;G4" will create a C minor chord starting on middle C. We can do the same by entering "0;3;7". Feel free to use either notation. However you must use the latter if you wish to create ranges. For example "0 to 10" will cover all those notes and create a cacophonous chord, while "0 to 10 step 2" will create a range of six notes comprising a whole-tone scale.
This adjusts the harmonics so that lower/higher partials are made quieter or louder. Essentially adjusting the 'brightness' of the sound, but in a different way to some of the aforementioned controls.
This explores that range between tonality and noise. If set to a high value, or elements in the picture will lock on to a particular musical note or chord defined earlier. However, if set to a lower number (say 1-5), then the chord will start to sound less harmonious and more like a strange noise.
Techically, the partials are attracted or magnetized to the nearest notes defined earlier in the "Chord notes" section, but don't completely go all the way. The lower the value, the less the partials budge away from their original positions.
Base pitch (Hz)
You can alter the basic pitch of the chord and harmonics defined earlier by changing this value.
Projects and settings
This section deals with loading and saving of projects, so you can resume later.
Feel free to experiment changing the controls as much as you like, since you can always set the program back to default settings.
Save pic with project
To allow projects to be portable, by default, SonicPhoto saves the picture in the same folder along with any project you save. This costs disk space, but is handy if you ever reorganize the locations of the original pictures.
Be aware that when you reload the project back in at a later stage, the picture will be taken from the newly saved location (i.e. the one in the same folder as your project file (.spo).
If you wish to disable this feature and force SonicPhoto to read from the original location of the picture, then untick this checkbox.
Save project as...
If you want to work on a project another time or day, feel free to save it to your hard disk (the sound is not saved, and must be regenerated at that point).
If you have already saved a project, this will allow you to save over it without having to navigate the file requester.
This loads a previously saved project.
This reloads the previously loaded project without having to navigate the file requester.
Open saved picture when loading project
This is ticked by default, since each project will tend to have a corresponding picture you want loaded too.
Unticking this option is great if you want to load the options and settings for a previously saved project, EXCEPT it keeps the picture you already had loaded. Great for trying out different effects with the same picture.