Top 6 Mistakes Ringtone Creators Make
I’ve recently updated my fancy new fangled smart phone. This being more my 4th or 5th smart phone I know the drill. One of the first things any new smart phone user does, is set all their ringtones.
I mean, if I leave it on the default ringtone, I’m gonna end up checking it every five seconds just to find that the text I was expecting from my girlfriend thanking me for the lovely gefilte fish dinner I cooked her, is really just ironically an email offering me medication to…better satisfy my girlfriend.
The phone itself comes with a wide variety of very nice ringtones, but those quickly run out, and next thing you know that guy you had psych class with first semester now has the same ringtone as your crazy ex wanting that sweater you clearly do not still have. Oh wait, THAT sweater? Oh. Well, I gave it to my new girlfriend, who’s at least three times hotter than you. Yeah, and she has, um, a billion dollars, and a golden retriever that doesn’t drool…ever. Yeah!
So to make sure I don’t have to go through that awkward conversation, I decided to download an app that had a strange name starting with a Z (you know who you are) and began browsing their massive collection of ringtones made by common every day individuals with the cheapest sound editing software known to man. This will be cake right? Two hours and 19 pages of ringtones later I’ve maybe downloaded 3 tones. What the hell is this crap? Every ringtone was useless. I mean, who uses these? If I was walking down the street and a stranger walking by played ANY of these ringtones before answering his phone, I’d have the sudden compulsion to punch him right in the face, throw him through the nearest plate glass window, and then drag his bleeding body into the road until a bus ran over him. And then I’d plead insanity and win when I played the ringtone in court and sit back as the judge beat the man with his gavel.
There are clearly 6 glaring problems with almost every ringtone that needs to just…just to STOP! NOW!
#6. Too long:
First and foremost I’m gonna clarify something. There are now two kinds of ringtones: Ringers, and Notifications. Ringers are for when someone is actually calling you. Yes, some of you may be unaware your smart phone even has this option anymore, but when someone is calling you, you wanna make sure you don’t miss it. This means in case you were out of the room for that one second to wax your unibrow that your phone started ringing, you hope it’ll still be ringing when you come back, you double browed beauty you. What’s the best solution for this? Music. My phone lets me set any song on my playlists to anyone so that when I hear the right 80’s power ballad I know who’s calling me. Also, it lets everyone in the room know that my girlfriend is my one and only “Cherry Pie!” and that my mom, “Shook Me All Night Long” …wait a minute…
Sing it on the mountain my plastic friend, sing it!
Anyways, music is easy, so I don’t need to be looking on apps for those, my phone has plenty. What I need to download any ringtones for is notifications. Notifications are for one of my seven emails, text messages, Facebook , Google+, instant messages, and various other apps that want to tell me something mildly interesting, like how Jimmy proposed to his secret internet girlfriend who's profile photos don't seem to look anything alike and I swear I saw that one in a bikini on www.jailbaitboo--know what? Nevermind, she seems nice.
Now I don’t like to brag, but I probably get at least 300 text messages a day. If one of my power ballads was to play every time I get a text message, it wouldn’t get to the second drum beat before starting up again. That’s what I liked about the phone’s built in notification tones. They were short, to the point, and cool. Every time your phone wants your attention, you don’t want it to go, “Hey! Look down here! I got something to show ya! It might be really important! Have a look will ya! Just a quick peek! Why aren't you listening to me?!? I thought we were friends! Maybe I should take the rest of my Zanex so you don't have to think of me anymore! My blood is on your hands!” but instead you just want it to just go, “Hey!” If your phone is gonna go off 35 times while you have your lunch you don’t want the fellow diners to gather up all the steak knives in the place and chase you down the street.
So I decided to look for short, sweet notification ringtones. And guess what. I found none. That was the problem with 99.999% of all the ringtones I listened too. They were just barely (and sometimes epically) too long. Even simple beeps and effects just held for a few beats too many. A quick half second ringtone isn’t your master opus, Ringtone Creators, you don’t have to put your composing flair on it.
These harmonies will make Chuck Norris cry.
Every time I opened a tone and heard, “Ba-ding Ba-doom” and my brain went, “oh, that was nice” it was immediately interrupted when the ringtone walked to the edge of the stage and suddenly belted out, “Ba-da-ding-ding-la-la-la-wa-psh-psh-tsk-tsk-la-boooooong, YEEEEAH!!!” Okay, um…thank you for that, we’ll be making our final decisions this week and be in touch. Please sir…please…just leave.
This problem hits novelty tones too. Novelty tones are sound effects other than beeps and bloops. Movie quotes or sound effects from pop culture. For example I came across a group of Star Wars tones and they too ran just a bit too long. I found a lightsaber effect in which the lightsaber charged up with the iconic noise it made. “sweet!” the brain exclaims….aaaaand then the lightsaber proceeds to swish back and forth frantically like it’s decapitating every Ewok on the forest moon of Endor. Why? The charge up was enough and all I wanted. Why add all that? I saw an R2D2 tone and I thought it’d be cool to hear R2D2 beep when I get a message. Instead, I got almost every R2D2 sound bite in the entire trilogy (that's right, I don't count the prequels) edited together to sound like a one-sided drunken rant about how C3PO never washes the dishes and leaves his shit all over the living room.
A notification ringtone should never be longer than a half a second. If I’m having a conversation with someone via text, I’m gonna hear your ringtone every three seconds. I don’t want it to make my brain ooze out my ears with too much going on. Once you make it short and sweet, you can’t mess it up…right…….riiight?
What’s worse than a message that runs too long? How about a message that runs too long…twice! I already mentioned that it seems like ringtone creators were writing their magnum opus, so once you’re in that mind set you’re only one step away from saying, “Hey, this collection of random sounds and notes is so awesome, people are gonna wanna hear it again.” Never mind the fact that this assumes my phone will only ring once…ever…but this also assumes what they created was…well…good.
God I want to hear so much more of this!
I noticed this over and over again. I’d hear a sound and think, “finally, I found a sound effect I can stand” and then I notice the time code is only half done and the sound bite went silent. My already abused brain goes, “oh no…oh god, no” and sure enough it starts up again. The worst is the gunshot sound bites. When my phone sounds like a .357 Magnum popping off a thunderous round, what I, and all the post 9/11 uber-paranoid diners around me, want to hear is it again exactly one half a predictable second later, just to make sure anyone who hasn’t dived under a nearby table yet makes it so.
Any Republican will tell you this is a musical instrument.
Remember that reference to the diner full of people who wanted to stab me because they were tired of my already too long ringtone driving them nuts because it played too many times? Now imagine they all heard it twice as many times.
#4. Adding Voices:
Another strange pattern I notices in all the ringtones I dug through was the addition of electronic voices. I know we live in a society auto-tuned by T-Pain, but this was starting to get ridiculous.
Let me start with the novelty tones. I came across a small transformer sound bite and I think, “nice, I’m gonna get the legendary transformation sound that I grew up with as a child!” Well, I clicked it and yes, yes I did get that iconic sound, as well as “STARSCREAM!!! ATTACK!!!” Sometimes they even get worse with Shia LaBeouf screaming, “Optimus!” and then Tay Diggs, “Right. Bring it!” and then Optimus yelling, “It’s you and me Prime!” and then Megan Fox farts and it smells like lilacs. DON’T JUDGE ME!
Ironically, she can't even use smart phones...cuz of her stubby thumbs!
But there’s something much, much worse…
You know what my short, loud, attention getting notification sound that I associated with my text messages needs to do? TELL ME IN HUMAN ENGLISH THAT I HAVE A MESSAGE! Tone after tone after tone on the list would play a chime and then an auto-tuned electronic voice would chime in and go, “You have a new message!” Thank you cell phone, thank you for telling me what I already know, but also, thank you for telling all the people around me what that obnoxious sound bite they already hate me for was representing. It’s like talking to your dog at the park when it does something stupid as if it understands just so that all the people around you know that, “you've never done this before! You like Chihuahuas, you don’t like eating them whole after viciously butt raping them!”
What’s the point? You want your smart phone to seem SO smart that it has become sentient and is now communicating to you directly?
Yeah, because that worked out sooooo well.
Personally, that’s one step closer to Skynet and the impending doom we are slowly trickling towards. Also, if I had a sentient slave program that listened to my every command, I wouldn’t want it talking back to me at all. Especially not in English. If Han and Luke could really understand half of R2D2’s backtalk he’d have been instantly broken down and turned into hydrospanners for the rebel alliance to adapt their snow speeders to handle the freaking cold on the ice planet of Hoth BEFORE they landed on it. And why did they ride creatures that obviously couldn’t handle the weather conditions of their own home plan…whoa, whoa, whoa…sorry about that, I watched WAY too much SW as a child.
I know, I know, I said let’s not talk about music in my first point, but what if I didn’t? Huh? Huh? See what I did there? Now let's imagine the 80's never happened. See how much better the world is now?
Some music however, works just fine as a notification ringtone.
These guys really know how to tell me I got a new email from that Nigerian Prince!
If we haven’t figured out by now, my advice with ringtones is make them short. The shorter the better right? Great. So why are there so many songs in the list? I click play and I get a few seconds of music? No. The chorus maybe? Not always. How about the intro? Nah. How about some random chunk of the music that some kid with a free sound editor he got off the internet, 72 gigabytes of illegally downloaded music, and no life supplying days upon days of free time, has quickly edited and put on the web for his 15 megabytes of fame moment where to him, seeing the 3 downloads in the last six months means he’s produced something to society and thus should be respected by his alcoholic mother? (Btw Jimmy, she still drinks BECAUSE you still live in her basement.) Yep, that’s about right.
I think I’ve made my point…moving on…
#2. Poor recording:
If you’re going to give me a sound bite from a popular film, or sound effect we all know and love, or…sigh…a clip of a song with its sentient voice attached at the end. Have the respect. The decency. The common freaking sense to give us a quality recording!
Hey, I got an idea. I want to have a sound bite of Arnie saying, “hasta la vista baby!” but I know nothing about audio recording and mixing. So you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna watch Terminator 2 on my twelve inch TV and set my phone on record and place it on top of it. I'll be a millionaire...in internet dollars, which are worth at least three used blowpop wrappers a piece. God bless the exchange rate.
When I want a sound bite of a lightsaber charging, I don’t want it sounding like Rosie O’Donnell queefing.
Alright, I’ll finally get that bear
sh***ing in the woods
ringtone everyone has been asking for.
And it’s even worse when it becomes synthesized ringtones. You made a series of bleeps and bloops into a short ringtone using some sort of computerized sound mixer and it sounds like garbage? How did this happen? Did you completely fart out your own brain while you were setting the compressors when saving the file? “Hmm, look at this. If I set my compressor to .midi, the file becomes smaller? Wow, isn’t technology amazing?”
So you tell me that’s not what happened? Then the only other option I can see is you…[gasp]…stole it from someone else.
-“Oh my god, that ringtone is amazing. But, how could I ever recreate it? I know. I’ll Play it on one phone, and set my other phone on record and place it on top of it!”
-“Or I could just email it to you?”
-“Dammit man, we don’t have time for this nonsense!”
#1. Obnoxious cut offs:
Okay, I’ve found a sound I like. It’s short, plays only once, and is well recorded. It’s perfe—Wait what was that? It just stopped. Mid-beat. After all the work I’ve gone through I find a ringtone that is awesome and short, and it’s short because someone literally just lopped off the end with an editing program, and they did it poorly. So poorly that I notice it. I know I have undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, (Don’t believe me? I wrote this article exactly six times.) but come on, how hard is it to cut the sound AFTER the beat has finished?
See anywhere in there? That’s fine to cut right? Just anywhere?
No matter how many times I hear the sound all I notice is the obnoxious cut off at the end. It’s so blatant and sharp that it’s a wonder how it didn’t drive the creator crazy. (Spoiler alert: They were already crazy!)
mean seriously, I’ve become so invested in your half-second sound, why would
you go and ruin it by cutting it off right in the mid-