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Sculpted 3D Objects Generate Electronic Soundscapes

Digital objects become musical instruments in 'geophone' from New York-based animator and VFX artist Georgios Cherouvim.

Digital music is data—analog signals turned into digital binary, then back again into sound waves. The data is simply an intermediary between recorded music and sound amplified through speakers or headphones. New York-based animator and visual effects artist Georgios Cherouvim flips this idea on its head with his latest project, geophone. Cherouvim treats beautifully animated 3D objects as point clouds that act as sound or music generators. These 3D shapes are, in a sense, like digital musical instruments which can produce dynamic 3D soundscapes.

"I used Houdini, which has a built-in functionality to convert a geometric model into three signals that correspond to the coordinates [xyz] of the object's point array," Cherouvim tells The Creators Project. "For each point in 3D space, a sample is created in the three signals, which are then manipulated to fit within the audible range of frequency and amplitude."

"The last step is to map the three waves to the two stereo audio channels," he adds. "On top of that, the object's form and the order in which its points are stored digitally define the sound that is output. The final audio tracks are rather imperfect and their zero crossings are all over the place. There are ways to further filter and fix that but for the purpose of this experiment, I decided to keep the raw sound."

The soundscapes are generated solely by the data that represents each object. Cherouvim compares the process to how a gramophone reads the grooves of a vinyl record and outputs sound. Geophone, on the other hand, “iterates through the points and turns the traveled path into audio waves.” This process is expressed as lines traveling along the object’s surface, which could be flat and mountainous topographies producing synth drones, or highly abstract shapes producing rhythmic static.

“The end result is defined by the shape of the object, the order in which the points are digitally stored, the frequency in which they are iterated and the way the three graphs are mapped on to the two audio channels,” Cherouvim explains. “No further processing has been applied.”

Check out geophone in action below: 

geophone from Georgios Cherouvim on Vimeo.

Click here to see more of Georgios Cherouvim’s work.

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