Just in time for the holidays, we’ve re-released all JibJab Jr. books, including two brand new seasonal titles “Snow Much Fun” and “Saving Christmas” with sound! Crank up your volume and play the video below.
Sound was the No. 1 customer request since JibJab Jr. Books launched in August, so we made it our No. 1 priority. We called on the incredible talent of Jeff Shiffman to do sound design, (check out more of his work at www.soundslikejeff.com), and our resident technical masterminds figured out a way to sync it all up with the existing content.
How’d they do it?
Jeff created sound for each page in two layers. One layer would always sync up and loop with the animation and the other looped independently as an ambient layer.
“My favorite from a sound standpoint has to be Ocean Commotion,” says Jeff. “The underwater environment allowed me to really experiment with lots of cool ambient loops, and the sea creatures are a ton of fun to add sound to. One particular challenge was the musical sequence with the lobster and octopus. This isn’t a stock music loop but rather one I built from scratch trying to match the fun animation. We start with the octopus on drums, then transition to the lobster and end with both characters playing together. I had to somewhat ‘reverse engineer’ this sequence to be sure to match the tempos of each character’s performance.”
What was the biggest challenge?
Artistically, the greatest challenge of adding sound was to make sure that it did not distract from the stories.
“I did my best to keep the sound design light while still helping the experience become more immersive,” says Jeff.
From a technical perspective, the sheer quantity of pages that had to be retro-fitted with sound was a huge undertaking.
“Our books are around 26 pages long, and some of them have three skin tones and two genders, which means that many pages have six variants that all need to be tested,” says Bennett K., who refined the workflow so books could be produced more quickly and consistently. “I was amazed by Jeff’s work in not only doing sound design for all of the books in such a short amount of time, but the incredibly tasteful job he did on every page!”
The book pages already used video files for animation, so the sound could be added in without any code changes.
“Background sound was different,” says Josh G., who researched sound integration and made the necessary code changes to support it. “I based it heavily on how we handle video animations, but it still meant thinking through the impact of code changes and making sure this new file type would be handled properly. We also had to define an expansion to our bundle format to support additional sound files. In the end, it was a straightforward change, but one that still required that we think things through in order to support the new feature properly.”
Tell us what you think!
Keep giving us your feedback (we like the positive kind too) and tell us how we can make JibJab Jr. Books even better!