Music & Sound for Flash
For any web based streaming media delivery, size is
the first issue that must be considered - the major difference to
the "traditional" mediums of film and video. This is the
area to start with: if your final delivery method is tape or digital
media [CD/DVD] this is not an issue; with web content, it is the start
of the planning process.
File size limits are determined by your target audience
and their connection speed. If designed for a general audience via
the web your file size should aim at a 28.8K connection as a least
common denominator - if your target is a high speed connection [DSL,
etc., and B2B] larger sizes are acceptable. As a rule of thumb, 28.8
should be under 1meg - more, and the time to download and stream becomes
a tedious wait. High speed connections do not have this limitation;
here, total length of the presentation - determined by purpose - should
be considered for the web.
Fortunately, one of the advantages of utilizing Flash
for web content delivery is its ability to provide a rich content
experience with a minimal file size. The inclusion of music, sound,
and efx can easily be kept within the determined size limitations.
Part of tailoring the audio component to the determined
size limits is simply put: "how much". The music/sound/efx
can be minimal while retaining the necessary impact to draw attention
to the message, holding the viewers interest, and highlighting key
For the sound designer, the task then becomes one
of effectively working within the size limitations and providing a
aural environment which gives additional substance and depth to the
visuals. The biggest consideration is balance - as these audio elements
are added, a "balance" must be maintained to ensure that
visual portions are not perceived as silent. Just as the animator
must be concerned with timing and pace, so must the sound designer
consider pace and timing in audio - the minimal density to provide
a "real" world experience.
For the composer, there are additional considerations:
appropriate style and maintaining a perspective with the required
sound and efx [does it work with the sound/efx elements?]. Here, all
the considerations for music in "traditional" media apply.
Who is the target audience and what stylistic considerations need
be considered? But, this must be [again] balanced with the needs of
the visual component - does it enhance and augment - giving added
depth and substance? Does it convey and reflect an appropriate emotion
and image that compliments?
In its historical context, the web is very much a
text driven and silent medium - it is rapidly evolving beyond that
limitation. The technology is available but must be accompanied by
creativity and the desire to provide a visual with all the depth and
substance audio can contribute.