Photo courtesy of Adam De Dominicis

The Sounds of the City

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By Noella Ovid

Ryerson RTA students have launched the Toronto Sound Zone, an interactive catalogue site of soundscapes from various Toronto landmarks.

This interactive media experience was originally created by Adam De Dominicis, 23, and three colleagues as a fourth year thesis project at the RTA School of Media.

“Toronto Sound Zone is the only project that’s using audio as the primary experience behind a medium. We provide a new way for users to explore and think about sounds,” said De Dominicis.

The website showcases a map of the city with 20 different locations across the GTA, providing users with signature sound bites from each respective site and a link to its precise location on Google Maps.

According to adviser Charles Zamaria, a professor at the RTA School of Media, it is a fairly unique project that combines audio and online presence to provide a rich, interactive experience.

“I was very impressed with the team’s enthusiasm and ingenuity for what is a very challenging production, both in terms of production challenges and also rendering a deliverable that is appealing to the user. They stayed the course and accomplished a great interactive project,” said Zamaria.

A cursory glance at the home page captures the familiar, nostalgic sounds that Torontonians are familiar with. Listening to Union Station, for example, gives users the recognizable sound of a subway train’s arrival while listening to the beaches brings a glimpse of quiet, calm waves crashing against the shoreline.

“We traveled to each location, in some cases multiple times, and recorded up to 5 hours of audio. I then edited the recordings down to 45 seconds to a minute each, choosing the most iconic sounds from each location and mixing them to bring out the essential features of each recording,” said De Dominicis.

The interactive site allows users to sample, remix, or otherwise incorporate these recordings into their own creative works and then upload them back on the website for another user to come across.

“Sharing and online access is a key component of most creative endeavours moving forward. It was wonderful to see this team incorporate the traditional – audio recording – with an interactive platform that provides a rich and fulfilling experience,” said Zamaria.

The production team is hoping to get the word out to as many people as possible so that someone who’s interested in the idea can use it to their benefit.

“That could be a musician sampling a clip for their song, or using it as a percussive instrument. That could be someone trying to test different aspects of their listening skills. There are really so many different ways in which Toronto Sound Zone can be utilized,” said De Dominicis.

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