A couple of days ago I downloaded the trial version of iZotope’s latest release, Iris. For those who haven’t heard about it, Iris is a sample-based synthesizer that uses iZotope’s award-winning visual selection technology, as seen in iZotope RX. What makes Iris interesting, is the way that the user interacts with the samples. As with RX, the waveform is displayed as a spectrogram making it easy to spot the most interesting spectral characteristics. But with Iris, a set of Photoshop-like tools are available (lasso, brush, magic wand, eraser) making sound design suddenly a very visual-led process. It’s a completely radical approach to synthesis and my first impression is just how easy it is to create completely wild sounds from existing recordings. And I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. Using the given tools to create spectral selections opens up a world of interesting sounds.
Using three different samples from Tim Prebble’s Tortured Piano library, I very quickly created some other-worldly ambiances. The process was very simple for each and, to be brutally honest, completely random. I literally made a spectral selection with the brush tool, sometimes writing words like “piano” just to see what came out. Add to that a touch of reverb and delay and you’ve suddenly got a spooky alien-like atmosphere.
There will be times when we wish to purposely design something and have more control over the outcomes. But, equally, there will be times when we want to get ultra creative and I feel that Iris may just be the tool that helps many-a-sound designer to overcome that creative block.