Melodyne: Formant Tool Sound Design

Melodyne as a film production sound design tool? If you've never explored the more esoteric uses of Melodyne then read on as Celemony expert, David Andris, guides you through some formant tools tips.  

Melodyne can be used for a lot of options during the course of the production of a record, or film. I bet you didn't think about using it for film work. Have you ever thought of being able to record some of the sounds that the tools in Melodyne make when in use, like the Formant Tool? No? Check it out:

Step 1 - SoundFlower Download & Installation

The first step is to go download Soundflower and install it.  Here is a link to the download page:

Soundflower will allow us to transfer the audio from Melodyne Editor in standalone mode to Pro Tools without the need for rewire. In this specific use, Rewire wouldn't work.

Step 2 - Audio MIDI Setup & Aggregate Devices 

Next you're going to want to set up an Aggregate device in your Audio Midi Setup. This utility can be found by going to your Main Hard Drive  / Applications folder / Utilities folder / Audio Midi Setup.

Once the Audio MIDI Setup Application is open, go to the bottom left side where there is a plus sign. Click on this to make a new Aggregate device, and you will be able to see all your available inputs and outputs that can make up this device. At this point you can select 16 channels of Soundflower, or use a 2 channel version. The 2 Channel version will be the easiest option. Make sure you also select the hardware device you normally use to listen to your DAW so you can hear what you're doing.

Audio Midi Setup

Step 3 - Setting Up Our DAW Preferences  

Now we should be able to find our Aggregate Device in our main DAW. As you can see here I can select it in Pro Tools by going to Setup > Playback Engine. Then select the Aggregate Device, which I named Soundflower (clever I know!!).

Playback Engine

Step 4 - Setting Up Melodyne Preferences 

So, now we have our recording DAW set up, all we have to do is open Melodyne Editor in Standalone mode and change its outputs. Once you have Melodyne open, press Command-, (comma) to get to your preferences window. Select the Audio tab, and go to where it says Audio Device. Click the drop down and select your Aggregate Device you just created. Finally three dialog boxes down select the output to send it to. You're going to set up your DAW input to that same channel number.  

If you look at the Melodyne screenshot, and the Pro tools screenshot you can see that I have the input of Pro Tools getting its feed from the outputs of Soundflower 1-2. Melodyne is feeding these channels.

Make sure you're sending to the right outputs or you wont hear anything

Make sure you're sending to the right outputs or you wont hear anything 

If you set your DAW Inputs to the same Outputs you set in Melodyne you should be all good

If you set your DAW Inputs to the same Outputs you set in Melodyne you should be all good

Step 5 - Recording the Sound Design Performance 

In Melodyne, open up the file you would like to edit the Formants of. I've decided to use the overtones of a piano. Here is what the original audio sounds like.

Finally, go to Melodyne and select the Formant tool (by right-clicking in the edit area, going two tools over and left-clicking). Then switch back to Pro Tools, arm the track you would like to record to, and start recording.  

Go back to Melodyne now and Click-Drag up or down with the Formant tool.  This will result in the Creepy/Haunting tone you can hear here:

The thing to remember is that this can be done with any audio you bring into Melodyne. It can also be replicated with any of the tools besides the timing tools and each tool will create different sounds.

Dave has been addicted to audio since he first picked up a microphone in college. He took that passion through to SAE, which landed him with Celemony in 2006. He has been a Melodyne guru/ Product Specialist since that time, and has given seminars overseas and all over the US. He currently lives and works in the South Florida area as a... Read More


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