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Audio Geometry Exploration – Sonification in Houdini

Created by Simon Russell, animation director based in London, the following is a series of Houdini experiments where geometry is used as a way to visualise sound and vice versa.

Through his experiments as well as commercial work Simon has been long time interested in the interaction of shape and sound. As Simon has discovered, Houdini lands itself to be an excellent tool for this as it’s flexibility allows audio to be created directly from f-curves, from geometry, samples or from MIDI and then manipulated in myriad ways.

In one of the experiments embedded below, the audio is generated from 3D geometry. As the particles collide they create an audio pulse based on their height. The is also audio generated from the small burst of particles. The outer and inner ring also emit a constant tone. The Plexus like effect also generates audio based on it’s height. It pops in and out based on the proximity of the points.

The basic elements are exported from Houdini into Cinema 4D where cloners and splines are used to create additional geometry for render. He then finished it with a simple composite and mix in After Effects and Audition.

For other experiments also embedded below, Simon uses a MIDI file to create the geometry in Houdini. He then moves the geometry into Cinema 4D to make it more interesting and render it. For example in the firefly experiment, the pitch of each ‘firefly’ is determined by it’s height and we it’s left/right position also defines it’s place in the stereo spread. The experiments go on, using particle systems to generate audio, 2d primitives, even using procedural sounds where the length of each ‘stem’ denotes the volume of the drum hit. For the full list of experiments including video that accompanies each, see Simon’s project page below.

Project PageSimon Russell

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