Today we are going to cover how to put your face into the mix, literally! (Well a picture of you anyways.) There have been a few famous cases of artists inserting themselves or a picture into a piece of music but how did they do it? Well my dear audio enthusiast read on!
Step 1: Find a Picture
For this trick to work you will need a picture of something or someone. Preferably a clean sharp looking picture so the detail is easier to see as this trick can get a little messy with overly complicated pictures.
FL Studio's Beepmap works by scanning an image from left to right and turning the colors into frequencies with varying amplitudes. The red portion of a pixels color will sound on the left and the green will sound on the right (with colors in-between sounding well...in-between!). The height of the pixels will determine the frequency it will start at. So the very top row of pixels will be your highest frequency.
Remember, the picture you pick will affect the final sound!
Step 2: Start Up Beepmap
Beepmap is considered a synthesizer in FL Studio and can be loaded like any other instrument. Before you click to open, set the Max Bitmap Height to 999, this will affect how big your picture can be as Beepmap will only support up to 999 pixels.
If your picture is too small or too big it will skew it appropriately to fit in that pixel range. If you are going for the greatest clarity in your picture then I would suggest sticking to 999. After that open up your picture in Beepmap.
Step 3: Spectral View
If you hit and hold a note right now you will probably notice that it doesn't work very well. That is because you have nothing to look at! In your master channel, add the plugin Wave Candy or some other spectral viewer plugin. If you choose wave candy you will notice that it loaded two windows, one of which controls the plugin and the other which shows the audio data.
In the control window, click on the spectrum tab to turn the audio window into a spectogram. Now when you play a note in Beepmap you should see some representation of your sound.
Step 4: Tweaking
Now when you played your note you probably realized that it didn't look anything like your picture. That is most likely because the time and frequency scales are not correct for our purposes.
Set the Freq parameter all the way to the right and set the length parameter all the way to the left. What this does is it maximizes that available frequency range we have to work with and shortens the duration Beepmap will spend on each pixel before moving on. Now if you wanted Beepmap to last for the duration of a song you would obviously need a much longer duration but for testing purposes the shortest duration works fine.
Try running your sound now in different octaves and see what your picture looks like at different starting frequencies...
If Beepmap was set to a Log scale then it was probably fairly detailed but it probably got skewed in different ways at different frequencies. If you want a less detailed but more proportional picture change the Log scale to Linear (don't bother with Harmonic as it is only good for cool sounds and not clear pictures).
As you have probably noticed, this technique renders some fairly strange and evolving sounds. You could theoretically craft your own additive synthesizer of sorts with any painting or photo editing software if you really wanted to spend the time to do so. For less obvious uses of it try lengthening the time the picture lasts so that no one will readily see it unless the analyze the entire song and zoom out from their spectral view.
You may have also noticed that they tend to be very noisy patches since there always seems to be some frequency being played. If you want to avoid this, use the color black in your picture. Black will not play at all and will make for a much smoother sound (relatively of course). If want a quick and dirty way to try it, load your picture in the free software called GIMP and under the colors tab is an option called threshold. Play with this parameter and save your picture and see how it sounds then.
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you in your next track!
And here's how it sounds: