Project Gamma brings intelligent audio to digital comics

AUSTIN, Texas--From the band Love and Rockets lifting its name from the famous cult favorite Hernandez brothers' comic, to a suspiciously-coincidental Jack Kirby and Frank Zappa meeting, comic books and music have a long history of influencing each other.

The fusion of music and comics as directed by the comics' creators has been limited to a list of recommended tunes in the letters pages of the book -- until now. Today, Marvel Comics raised the curtain on a plan to turn that history on its ear with a digital comics-and-music fusion code-named Project Gamma.

Project Gamma is, in the words … Read more

The 404 1,217: Where it's kind of hot in these rhinos (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Discussion: Are you spoiling a movie for yourself by listening to the soundtrack before watching the movie? Inspired by Clint Mansell's new "Stoker" score available to stream.

- Discussion: Which programs are still shown in standard definition?

- The New York Times warns against sitting at work.… Read more

Music app Shazam gets new Facebook features

Shazam, the mobile application that has enthralled millions of listeners with its ability to detect and identify a song--largely ending the need to Google lyrics--has gotten a little bit more social. Namely, the latest update to its iPhone app (and soon Android app) added Facebook integration, which wouldn't be a terribly big deal except that the social music space continues to be so interesting to watch.

Now, when you "tag" a song by running it through the Shazam system to identify it, or just open up the app for browsing purposes, you have an option called "… Read more

The shirt that plays tunes

It may not be breaking news, but ThinkGeek's nifty Personal Soundtrack Shirt might be the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life. The T-shirt features a working speaker, and when you push the appropriate button on the wired remote you get music or sound effects. If you don't like the built-in sounds, pop in your own SD memory card loaded with MP3 files. Or play sound from your portable audio player through the speaker on the front of the shirt. Simply connect the player to the "input" jack on the battery box of the shirt. … Read more

Record, mix, and create music

If Sony ACID Pro is a little too rich and advanced for your blood, the slightly simpler and much cheaper ACID Music Studio may be right up your alley. Version 8 of the program builds upon the already robust music recording, mixing, and creation tools with several new features and enhancement, and yet the $64.95 licensing fee won't break the bank (you can try it for free for 30 days). But don't be fooled by the lack of a "professional" designation in the title: ACID isn't geared for newbies but for serious music aficionados … Read more

Scientists learn why scary soundtracks are scary

Yes, there was a certain something about that haunting soundtrack that really freaked out me--and the rest of the United States--watching the movie "Jaws" the first time. (It wasn't happenstance that beaches across the United States also reported lighter-than-usual traffic that summer of 1975.)

Turns out that a film score like the one Steven Spielberg incorporated for his blockbuster movie actually mimic animal cries, or what scientists term "nonlinear vocalizations," according to a study just published in the journal Biology Letters.

"By their very nature, vocalizations containing nonlinearities may sound harsh and are somewhat … Read more

Hands on: Pocket BLU app serves up Blu-ray extras

Here's a neat idea: an app that links your iPhone or iPod Touch to whatever Blu-ray movie you're watching and serves up extra content, a remote control, a soundtrack listing, and even Facebook integration so you can tell friends about the movie.

Pocket BLU is that app. It's free, it works, and it's pretty cool--but it suffers from two major limitations.

The first is that it works only with Blu-ray players that have Wi-Fi. I can understand the need for a network connection, but what's wrong with Ethernet? Save for PlayStation 3s, few modern players … Read more

Apple revamps Logic Studio audio suite

Apple released on Thursday the next major version of Logic Studio, the company's suite of professional audio applications.

I was given early access to the new version and have been using it for some time now. I can say the new features will not only improve your workflow, but will also improve the sound of your music.

Logic Studio consists of three main applications: Logic Pro 9, MainStage 2, and Soundtrack Pro 3. As part of the bundle you also get 80 Studio Effects plug-ins, 40 software instrument plug-ins, more than 1,700 sampled instruments, and over 20,000 … Read more

MTV's 'Soundtrack' jumps on stage

MTV might've strayed away from music these days--My Super Sweet Sixteen, anyone?--but the entertainment mainstay's latest project aims to both bring it back to its roots and propel it into the social Web. Ambitious, yes.

It's called "Soundtrack," and it's an "interactive music guide for TV." If you're watching a heated moment of cattiness between Lauren and Audrina on The Hills and are dying to know what song's playing in the background, you can log on and find out exactly what it was. Then you can purchase the MP3, … Read more