The next step to the Holophoner, the smFrontczak

Either Microsoft is terrible at creating videos, or they have a good sense of an ironically bad video. Check out this submission. I think they know what they’re doing:

Play Microsoft Songsmith demo video

Their newly announced product available from Microsoft Research automatically generates accompanying music to any words you sing into your computer. You can choose key and musical style. You can then go back and change the chord progression if needed. $40 gets you a downloaded application that might be fun.

Songsmith gives me another idea.

smFrontczak: Imagine an application that you tell a story to, it adds sound effects, ambience to your speech and even music to turn your story into a higher production-value podcast or radio play. This would happen using voice recognition to understand the story in conjunction with a large sound effects library. smFrontczak could also enhance radio plays, characters could speak selected stage directions, which could be edited out of the final version.

George: The cathedral's got a mosiac...
Connor: Hurry, it's almost noon!
The children leg it across the bustling
market square and burst into
the murky cathedral.
Mark: The sun! The sun!
The cathedral clock begins to strike noon
(continues over the following)
George: The beam's pointing right at...
...the Blue Knight's shield!

If actors (or a talented individual using different voices) read this script out, the smFrontczak could interpret the script by fading out the busy market square to the left, fade in the cathedral from the left and change the ambience applied to the voices to make them sound as if they are in an echoing hall. Then church bell strikes could commence and continue (with reduced volume) during the scene.

When films are in preproduction, teams are brought in for previsualisation. Storyboarding and animation software (sometimes in 3D) are used to plan scenes to guide many departments. Perhaps the smFrontczak could be used to support the sale of a script in the first place – a tool to turn actor’s readings into dynamic radio plays…

This is the next step on the way to the day when someone will invent a real Holophoner.

The Holophoner is an imaginary device from Futurama, the animated series set 991 years in the future from some of the people that make the Simpsons. It is a musical instrument that uses holographic technology to create 3D operas to accompany the music.

I hope it’ll be a few decades until a real Holphoner appears. In a way, the technology and media industry are paving the way for the day when an individual will be able to compose and perform a complete sensory experience and share it with an audience.

What will audiences need imagination for then…?

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4 comments
  1. M said:

    HAHHA i think they are just bad at creating videos

  2. Your suggested product “Storysmith” is clever. However the name Storysmith® is registered to me, Susan Marie Frontczak, through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Reg. No. 2,438,401. The registration date is March 27, 2001. I consider your use of “Storysmith” to be an infringement of my proprietary rights and a dilution and tarnishment of my mark. I have spent many years and dollars developing goodwill and consumer recognition of my mark. I request written confirmation that you will immediately cease using the mark or any deceptively similar mark. I also request the immediate removal of all references to “Storysmith” in connection with any of your already existing internet posted or otherwise published works. I request that this action be taken by April 30, 2009. If I do not hear from you by that time, I will seek other means of contact to resolve this matter.

    • Alex said:

      I’m sorry for using the term. I will now change it to something else immediately. I assume you do not own ‘smFrontczak’ as a patent or trademark, so I’ll use that instead.

      If you have a patent or trademark to ‘smFrontczak’ I will of course change the name to something else.

  3. 🙂 Thank you for reminding me not to take life too seriously! You are correct that I don’t own a trademark to my own initials concatenated with my name. Perhaps not surprisingly, some people also connect my name to my work, and so at first blush it surprised me to see my name used in this context, but I take your choice as a compliment. You are safe on many counts: I am not the only person in the world with the surname Frontczak, and unlikely to be the only Frontczak with the first initials SM. So this is not a collection of letters to which I can ever lay exclusive claim. At the same time, Frontczak is unusual enough, naming your hypothetical product with my surname could bring curious people to my web site. (I understand Lillie Langtree liked any kind of publicity.) I also see from the email you sent to me that you are a London writer. I didn’t know you were across the pond when I wrote my previous note. I expect that alone puts you out of range of the US Patent and Trademark office. While I don’t have a product today such as you describe, who knows, maybe someday. All the best, Susan Marie

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