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Researchers Create Sounds of Animated Things Breaking

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Smashed piggybank

The sounds of a piggy bank being smashed include the initial fracture and the clattering of ceramic shards and coins hitting the floor.

Doug James Lab

A delicate wine glass shatters on the floor. A rock is thrown through a window. A child smashes his piggy bank. Dramatic moments like these in an animated movie or video game or some future virtual reality won't seem realistic unless the sound matches the action.

Cornell computer scientists are developing technology to synthesize the sounds that go with computer-animated images of brittle materials being smashed. Their methods look at the computer graphic model that underlies the animation, figure out how a corresponding real object would vibrate when fractured, and how that vibration would create sound.

For years, filmmakers have dubbed in recorded sound, but it is difficult to get it to match the action. And in a game or virtual reality, programmers can't know in advance just how hard or far a wine glass will fall.

From Cornell University Chronicle Online
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