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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks, getting to be that time of year (pretty much year round for most of us).

One of my goals this season was to hook up one of the Imagineerieing Magic Mirror displays in my haunt door.

I've been able to figure out everything except the voice. I found MorphVox pro and Voice Changer 6 from Diamond, but from what I can tell there is always a significant delay due to the computer processing.

I don't want to buy any new equipment if I can help it, so a software solution would be preferable.

If I have to I could hack the crappy voice changer set I got at Target years back and hook it up to an amp, but I'd rather not.


So what do you folks suggest? For those of you who do the magic mirror, what do you use?


Thanks again for any help, and keep it scary!
 

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We set up one last year. I used a wireless mic from radio shack to control the effect directly and the kids loved it. I didn't use a voice changer, I just kind of got theatrical about how I spoke through the mic and thought it turned out really well.

Are you recording dialogue, or will someone be talking through a microphone too? Are you certain you want a voice changer effect? You may find using your own voice, slightly altered, works just great and is much more reliable.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will be operating/voicing it myself and liked the thought of this somewhat "other worldly" voice booming from the mirror. Probably over-thinking things as usual.

Thanks for your input, JohnnyD.
 

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You can find a raft of shareware software that will change your voice in real time (most commonly used for webcam calls and game avatars.) These would be cheaper than a hardware solution.

[Sorry for the vague suggestion, but I don't personally use this type of software.]
 

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Most audio editing software (sonar, cubase etc) will allow you to place effects on your voice in real time using the echo on feature. Not too sure about Audacity, I will have to check it tomorrow. Any of these editors will fill the bill. Reverb will give you that boominess to your voice while moderately applied pitch shifting will either raise or lower (depending) your voice. Echo with multiple taps (repeats of the original sound) can give you an other-worldly effect, especially if you pitch shift the taps at different pitches. Hope this helps, Keith
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the replies!

Halloweenie, I use a PC so GB would be out of the running...

I have tried a couple of the software solutions but the lag time between me speaking and the sound being heard would be reeeeeeeeeeealy distracting. I haven't tried just using the reverb like Soundman suggested, maybe that will fit the bill. Thanks for the definition of reverb... I run the sound at our church and sometimes the local theater, so I'm aware, but some of our family here may not be.

As for the hardware solutions they are probably the best option but alas, I've already blown my Halloween budget (sez the wife) for the next five years.

I have Audacity but I thought it would only work with recordings, but it would be really nice if I could make it work for this application, since it's not a resource hog.

If I can get the software solutions to work properly I plan on running the sound out to an old car amp then through an enclosed subwoofer, which I think would also sound pretty "otherworldly". Any thoughts?
 

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Bilbo, I run Sonar in my studio and there is a feature on each channel called "echo on" that allows sound to be processed by plug in effects in real time and passed on to the output. I do it with whole groups recording live with no noticable latency. I cannot remember if Audacity has this feature, I run it at church (also the sound/video guy) but all we do is record the speaking. Keep us posted on what you come up with. Keith
 

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I know this is an old post. But I have been doing my Magic Mirror set up for 3 years and I had been searching since year 1 for a good voice changing program or hardware piece that wouldn't break the bank. As it turns out, just about all software I used had some kind of delay from the input to the output. Any software I used that came close to real time altered my voice too much.

It was around this time a fellow recommended NOT using a voice changer as even a slight amount could have people asking you "What did you say?" I didn't pay attention to the advice and perhaps I would have better luck with a hardware device. Not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars, I ended up settling for a BOSS Pitch Shifter pedal, which was by right meant for a guitar. But, I know that a guitar signal is very similar to that of a microphone. In addition, a commercial Halloween 'voice changing' kit that included this VERY device, so I figured at $150, I would give it a go.

Overall during the test runs, I was happy with the way the BOSS Pitch Shifter worked even though it did add quite a bit of hiss to the audio output (which was due to the mismatch of the microphone input). But it was still OK. When the big day came, I was running short on time so at first I started my Magic Mirror display without the pitch shifter as I normally did in the past, everything went fine. Then when there was a lull in TOT's coming to the doors, so I quickly hooked up the pitch shifter and adjusted it to where it sounded good. Almost immediately, I had kids asking me to repeat what I was saying. I fiddled with the thing for almost a half hour to get the voice to sound good AND still be legible, but every so often I still got the question to repeat what I said. So after a while I gave up, turned the voice changer off and went back to my regular voice. Then for the rest of the night I didn't get one person to repeat what I said. After that I never used the pitch shifter again.

So now I tip my hat off to the fellow that warned me about this in the first place and I am extending that warning here for those that are looking to electronically alter their voice. FORGET ABOUT IT! It will cost you time, money, and possibly a headache too. The same fellow recommended that if you MUST alter your voice, the best thing is to use a little reverb, but just a little. I was going to try that out for the next season, which was last year (2012), but we got hit with hurricane Sandy and had no power at the location. ( I improvised for that Halloween and did something different). But this year (2013), the Magic Mirror will return. Whether or not I am going to use any sound altering (reverb only), still remains to be seen. I am doubtful though. The most annoying thing to both you and the TOT's is having to constantly repeat yourself. Bottom line is just BE yourself. Just change your voice on your own. Remember you ARE an actor and you ARE putting on a show. It is your interactivity with the TOT's that people will remember and not how your voice sounded.

Hope that helps,

Geo
 

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junkingeo - Thanks for the input but still wanted to know if you had to do it all over, would you still buy the BOSS Pitch Shifter? Do you think that "other company" does different kinds of tweaks to theirs to get it to sound good?

PB
 

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I'm pretty sure there is another thread around here on the subject of magic mirror voices. A few years ago I went with Alesis Microverb III via craigslist for $25. It worked great and as long as we don't get too carried away with the distortion people have no problem understanding the actor. Just keep in mind you are going for surreal not Satan.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow, blast from the past!! So far I've ended up not using any voice mods. In fact, haven't been able to do much with the mirror at all! Every year I hook up everything, fight with my systems to view the camera I set up along with the mirror, and still end up with something technically going wrong... usually it's the audio. This year I plan on testing at least a week in advance, and getting it RIGHT!!

Thanks everyone again for their input!
 

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junkingeo - Thanks for the input but still wanted to know if you had to do it all over, would you still buy the BOSS Pitch Shifter? Do you think that "other company" does different kinds of tweaks to theirs to get it to sound good?
No, I wouldn't have bought it. As for the "other company", I think they are ignoring the impedance issues when trying to match a microphone to a guitar input. As I said above, it DOES work, but only to a certain degree. My mistake was that I didn't listen to the fellow who had the voice of experience. He WAS right. Now, are there hardware pieces that will work for this application? Yes, absolutely, but that doesn't come without a hefty price tag. I have tried an Eventide Harmonizer and the unit is absolutely astounding in it's sound quality. But this was an over $1000 processor...used.

PB[/QUOTE]

I'm pretty sure there is another thread around here on the subject of magic mirror voices. A few years ago I went with Alesis Microverb III via craigslist for $25. It worked great and as long as we don't get too carried away with the distortion people have no problem understanding the actor. Just keep in mind you are going for surreal not Satan.
I have an Alesis Midiverb and while this does work better than the BOSS pedal, the problem is all the extra hookup wires needed. The Midiverb doesn't have a microphone level input, so it would have to go into an effects loop, of which I do have on my mixer. The deal killer for me was that the Midiverb is a 19" rackmount piece and I am already shy on space in my little vestibule. But even with the Midiverb, it is very hard to get the pitch shifted voice to be legible...it is NOT a harmonizer, it is meant to shift the pitch of instruments, like the BOSS pedal. Now the thing I might try to reinvestigate is how the Midiverb will sound just adding some reverb to my voice. But I have not yet gone back to revisit this after my failure with the BOSS pedal. I MIGHT try it this year...since I don't have to spend any money as I already own the Midiverb. One thing I must say, you certainly lucked out getting the MicroVerb at that price, but one thing is for certain, the MicroVerb isn't nearly as capable as the Midiverb is, so if I am not 100% happy with the pitch shifted sound of the Midiverb, I don't think I would be happy with the MicroVerb. Now Alesis has the QUADRAVERB, and that is a vastly superior unit to both of our units combined. The good news is that recently I have seen this unit fetch for less than $100 on Craigslist. Yet, even at $100, I don't think I am going to take the risk if it works or not. But for if I could find a decent harmonizer for that price, then yes, I would. A Harmonizer is THAT much better than a standard pitch shifter because it is MADE for voice.

Wow, blast from the past!! So far I've ended up not using any voice mods. In fact, haven't been able to do much with the mirror at all! Every year I hook up everything, fight with my systems to view the camera I set up along with the mirror, and still end up with something technically going wrong... usually it's the audio. This year I plan on testing at least a week in advance, and getting it RIGHT!!

Thanks everyone again for their input!
Hello Bilbo,
Glad you still were watching this post. I have been running the Magic Mirror for 3 years now and it is a BIG neighborhood hit. I have since moved away from that location (my parent's home), yet, I have not moved the Magic Mirror to my new residence. It has already come to the point where the people 'expect' the Magic Mirror yearly. As it was, last year, due to Hurricane Sandy causing a power outtage in my parent's neighborhood, I was not able to do the mirror. I ended up doing something else with battery operated equipment. Yet, despite my efforts, people were still asking for the Magic Mirror. I just said, "No can do, we have no power". But that is just giving you an idea of how much interest the Magic Mirror has on the people in that area.

Right after the first year, I wanted to change my voice and that is also when I received 'the warning'. I was foolish and didn't listen. On top of that, I went cheap. Now I have a useless BOSS pitch shifter that I spent $150 that I only used once for a half hour in 2011. Needless to say, I am going to go back to my unaltered voice. I MIGHT try the Alesis Midiverb out with REVERB only and dial in what I need. BUT, I do have a lot planned for this year especially since I was not able to do anything for last year, this year is going to be all that much 'bigger'. We will see what I do, though.

In terms of getting your Mirror to Show Time status, I would go as simple as possible. I don't even have cameras on my system (which is a shortcoming I will detail later). I use a scrim in which I can see TOT's approach the mirror, but they cannot see me. This is done by traditional theatrical trickery and it works like a charm. Do a search for "Magic Mirror" by author jukingeo in this forum and you will see quite a few posts I have up in regards to my Magic Mirror display (and setup).

What I am using is a single Compaq desktop computer that provides the Imagineerieing Magic Mirror digital puppet in addition to the background music. I have a Playstation controller set to keyboard keys using a program called 'joy2key'. I find using the PS controller is WAY better than the keyboard and it is a MUST have. Using a keyboard really would be insane (IMHO). The music comes out of the computer playing MP3s of Midnight Syndicate. The music and my voice (using a pro quality $100 microphone) go to a Behringer mini mixer and that goes to an amp and speakers which flank the mirror.

For my candy delivery system, I have a heater duct pipe that runs down on an angle (using the natural slope of the stoop inside of the vestibule) that exits to a dryer vent outlet. That is it!

I would say for starters that you should go with a similar set up. While this is simple enough, there is still room for error. Be sure to get all your bugs out before moving on. Now getting back to what I said about using cameras, I think I might incorporate one this year as the problem with using only a scrim is that I am BEHIND the Magic Mirror and I don't have visual feedback of what the Mirror is doing. When my wife took video the last time, I noticed that sometimes I forgot to 'fade-in' the Magic Mirror face and as such there are times where I am speaking to TOT's and and the mirror face is not on the screen! I think I would like to add a forward view camera so I could at least see what my mirror face is doing at all times. I think that also with a camera, I might do away with much of the scrim and go with some kind of wall material, just leaving the scrim material for the speakers and the spot where I look out to see approaching TOT's which is right above the left speaker. So I really don't need a full scrim. As it is with the full scrim I ALWAYS will get one (or more) of the older TOT's trying to look past the mirror and seeing what is behind it. Despite this limitation, I still like the scrim because setup and take down is SOOOOO easy.

Take a peek at my video links and pictures here in forum if you need some ideas. The key is to have a good area picked out that does have good evening shade. If you have the Magic Mirror effect anywhere near bright lights (ie a setting sun) it will not work right and you have to wait until it is dark. Luckily, the vestibule on my parent's home faces East, so there is a good amount of shade there by the time I start. If you have a front (or side) door that is on a porch, that is ideal as you can set up the Magic Mirror right over the main entrance to your house.

At any regard, if you need help with this, just drop me a line, and I will be more than happy to help.

Geo
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Unfortunately simple isn't workable for me. Ideally I would set up fairly similarly to you... sit behind the mirror, watching the TOTs through a scrim and delivering the goodies into a spooky tray, along with a blast of fog for good measure.

The issue is both my wife and I would rather hand out the candy in person. We love to see the costumes and hear the accolades regarding our decorations (c'mon, did you think I was really doing all this for the kids??). This means the door must be operable, which I've managed so far.

The door is at the end of a narrow foyer so I have to be at least 8 feet away from the door when I'm operating the controls. I use an old PC flight controller joystick and I think the same software you use. The stick controls the head, trigger for the mouth, and the thumb-stick takes care of the expression and fading in and out. I have a cheap security cam fed into a hole I cut over the mirror wired to a monitor, so I can look left and comment on the princess' dress, then right and act scared of the 2'-8" monster. The one time I did get everything running correctly the kids were very impressed, so I really want to make this work!

I think borrowing/buying a decent microphone might be a good start. It always seems to be my audio where things break down. I think I'll just forgo the voice altering, since it seems to be just another cog that can get messed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks again for the feedback. Wonder if this is the year without a technical hitch??
 
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