The Tyrannosaurus Rex and the slow motion burp

Today Son 1 and I made a PowerPoint presentation for his school homework. It’s the first time we did something like this together.

As I feel it’s important he learns early on how to act when dealing with digital media, especially Wikipedia, I made sure the pictures of dinosaurs we were pulling from their site were correctly acknowledged in the final slide, with other contributions acknowledged: Data compiled by him, design by the both of us, “no dinosaurs were harmed in the making…” etc etc etc.

On the final slide is a credit for a growling sound which accompanies the appearance of a full screen picture of a T. Rex halfway through the presentation and frankly it’s a great sound. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done for anyone’s homework, including all of mine, ever. I’ve copyrighted it, just in case. Hence, the credit.

We recorded our own dino growl using my Zoom H2, my mac, and a little piece of software called Audacity.

Now, when we first had a computer in my parents’ house, we had Windows 95 and it came with a really basic record and play program, which would capture the microphone input and save it as a .wav file. It also allowed basic transformations of the waveform – reverse, stretch, invert. Messing around with it one day, I decided to record a variety of sounds and see what I could to with them. Speech is funny slowed down and sped up, especially if you record at half speed but in your normal voice then speed it up a la Chipmunks.

It was that fateful day in 1996 which shaped the outcome of today’s project in 2012. To the amusement and sheer disbelief of my son, we created a very passable dino growl by recording a big wet burp from his Dad, trimming it down and slowing the whole thing by 55%. It’ll also do for lions growling, tigers, whatever, but “dinosaurs” was the topic at hand.

This is not a lie, and I love it. His mother was truly impressed with the sound effect until she was made aware of its origin. I may have been forgiven by my lovely wife, but now it’s only a matter of time before the teacher asks about it and my son starts explaining…

I’m very proud that something I learned accidentally at age 16 has been of use to my 8 year old, especially since I’m now 32 and should be too mature for this kind of a lark, but most of all I hope I’ve done that Dad thing right and he’ll remember just as long that experimentation can be a wonderful thing. Also, I can’t wait for next week’s homework.


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