Kill the Cann: Laugh Track Suppression
Kill the Cann: Laugh Track Suppression
Laugh Track Suppression Device that sits between your media device and TV to remove laugh tracks from your favorite TV Show.
Laugh Track Suppression Device that sits between your media device and TV to remove laugh tracks from your favorite TV Show. Read more
About this project
For some of us, it is really annoying! For viewers, canned laughter can distort the dialogue, make it hard to hear clearly or understand, or simply insert laughs in places that you don't think are funny.
What if you could “kill” the canned laughter of your favorite sit-com?
What if you could remove audience sounds like laughter and declare yourself free of “programmed response,” to laugh only when you feel like it?
Some of us really don’t like laugh tracks and wondered if a device could be built to remove the canned laughter. As scientists with expertise in image and audio signal processing, as well as speech and vocalization analysis, we were all intrigued. Undesirable canned laughter is definitely a “sound” issue – which is right up our alley. A survey of others revealed this was a common issue. Over 80% of our survey audience replied that laugh tracks on television shows annoyed them. Armed with that insight, we decided to design a simple do-it-yourself solution that anyone could use with his/her own TV.
Kill The Cann (KTC) reduces or removes laughter from the television audio using our advanced signal processing algorithm (patent pending).
Our design works with existing HDMI streaming devices like your DVR and Chromecast, by simply connecting the HDMI cable of your DVR to our device and then connecting it to your TV.
It is very simple to use. Just turn on the switch to suppress laughter in any show you are watching.
The available audio tracks of a multi-track television program are processed to remove or reduce certain components of the program, especially audience sounds. This applies to any program which is supplied with several audio channels, whether provided by cable, DVD, Internet streaming, or otherwise.
How it Works
A single, multi-channel electronic audio stream enters from the left and is split into single channels. The channels are collectively processed in block P above and reassembled into a multi-channel audio stream, which is output on the right.
In the middle, the audio streams are filtered in several ways to isolate the audience sounds to be removed or reduced.
To understand what we do, you need to know how audio engineers assemble the sounds of a sitcom. Generally, music/special effects get a left and right channel, the left and right sides of the audience get left and right channels, and one channel is dedicated to low-frequency sounds (bass). Finally, the performers get one channel – which they share with the middle of the audience.
In our processing, each of the audience tracks and the performance track get special attention.
Isolating Audience Sounds
First, our processing measures the two audience tracks to decide when the audience is laughing. These audience filters are then used to "mask" the audience part of the performance track, too, to produce an improved performance track. This requires some care in order not to suppress the actors' voices as well, if the audience is not quiet enough.
Afterward, the bass and music/special effects channels are recombined with the improved performance track. We also include the audience tracks, minus those masked parts, for better audio realism.
While You Are Watching TV
What happens "inside the box"? Once the switch is flipped on the KTC device that is attached to your TV, audience sounds are suppressed and effectively blocked from the television show's audio, allowing you to laugh only when you think something is funny!
The ultimate plan is to use the working prototype funded by this campaign to move to a commercial production model for the consumer market. We believe that crowd funding the development and involving our funders at various points in the development process will get us true consumer input that will help build a device with real utility for people who dislike canned laughter in their entertainment experience.
The product's software functionality has been in development for more than a year (with patent pending), and the underlying analysis software for almost 20 years. Developing it to the point of manufacture will require several additional steps. First is to produce a functional, though clunky, Kill The Cann (KTC) prototype. Yes, you will be able to see it in action and also touch the boards. (But if you don't want to connect the wires yourself, you should wait for the next step in the process!) $50,000 is the anticipated budget (after processing fees) necessary to pay for the hardware and software development for this step.
Your contributions will be used to fund hardware integration with existing HDMI development boards if available (or commercial boards like the Raspberry Pi®, if not) with analog stereo output. This will take two months to select and source the boards through our design partners, Advanced Research and Development. On the software side, funds will be used to incorporate our real time processing into the current (non-real-time) version of the algorithm, requiring two months time. Converting the software system to run on the board will occupy the next three months. By the end of six months, delivery of prototypes to backers and testers will commence.
If our funding goals reach or surpass $90,000, we will be able to develop HDMI splitting hardware in-house, even if convenient, reliable development boards are not available. Should we reach the outstanding level of $120,000, work can begin on HDMI reintegration for full High-Def audio output.
Join the Kill the Cann Revolution!
By contributing to our campaign and freeing yourself to laugh at will, NOT on command.
Every revolution needs people who believe - help us spread the word!
Risks and challenges
It may take some time to find the right prototype HDMI board. It's easy to find HMDI boards out there. So, what's the hitch? The answer is, some name-brand companies won't do business with us until after they think we'll be successful. (Your contributions will actually help with the convincing.) We are prepared for this, but it is still a schedule risk.
Functionally, the simplest product will pass the video through without buffering. However, the audio processing requires a small delay. In our experience, this delay changes the video/audio synchronization right in the "gray area" between unnoticeable and annoying, about 1/30 of a second. So, if our first users, including those who contribute at the product-testing, like the result, the product will be ready to move to the next stage - design for manufacturing. (No more wires!) If the delay is annoying, a slightly more complicated and more expensive design is required, one that can buffer the video to delay it enough to stay synchronized with the audio.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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