The New Audio Paradigm: Spatial Audio

The Rise of VR has created the need for hyper-realistic immersive audio, rolling out a thrilling era for audio. For a long time, audio seemed like a minor afterthought, leaving the center stage to visual effects, and often driving creators to invest in visually-overwhelming experiences. However, just like in reality, audio is a prime factor, so in order to simulate reality, 3D audio should be treated with equal care. When audio is planned along with the visual aspects right from the beginning, it can assume a major part of the story and create a well-rounded 3D environment.

Spatial audio generates sound from several directions and allows the user to identify these directions. This may sound trivial, but anyone who has just a little experience with audio know it isn’t. 360 degree audio location-based sound creates auditory cues that guide the user, who is often lost and apprehensive, and invites them to glance in the relevant directions and discover new elements.

Binaural Recording

Binaural recording simulates the human ear and brain. In the human hearing system, sounds coming from one side will be perceived as being louder on that side than on the other, and will also reach the closer ear faster. Binaural recording processes sound just like our hearing system, so the sound is perceived by our brains as being a natural part of our real environment.
Although VR is perceived as a 21st century tech, the binaural recording methodology goes back to Clement Ader, an engineer in 19th century Paris, who invented the Theatrophone, a telephonic transmission system that broadcasted Opera Shows. Binaural audio stood on the sidelines for decades, and now, with the surge of VR, it’s undergoing a rebirth.

Tips for Creating 360 Degree Audio

Longer Footage, Higher Flexibility

Audio should be taken into consideration when creating 360 content

Record each scene for at least 5-10 minutes, to allow for maximum flexibility in choosing the best clips in the editing stage. You don’t want to get stuck with inaudible speech just because there’s no other option.

Define Your Recording Area

Key action and sounds should take place in a space of around 300 square feet. Anything that takes place farther away may fade into the background.

Plan 360 Degree Audio Levels

Take into account that your equipment’s position will be static for the entire scene, so it would be best to plan your levels accordingly. You can monitor the recording using your smartphone.

Full Alignment

Since the recording of video and audio is usually performed separately, carefully check the alignment of the video and audio fields. You need the 0 degree of the 360 degree field to align in both audio and video. If they don’t align, make sure the difference is a multiple of 90 degrees in order to ease later tasks.

No Rash Changes

Avoid changing the direction of the audio or video during the filming. If you must do so, list exactly what you changed, to streamline production work.

Match Making

To ease the matching of audio and video shots, describe the number, title and location of the scene aloud when you start shooting it. This could save you a lot of grief later.

Strategic Positioning

Carefully choose a strategic location for your rig, in the center of the audio and video action. No less important, make sure the position is completely stable, to avoid user nausea.

Make sure to align the audio and the video to create a truly immersive VR experience

Ease Synching

Walk around the rig and make a sound in several directions around the rig, to streamline audio and video synching.

Don’t be a Dinosaur

In the post production workflow, continually check and adhere to new software types as well as updates which are always being released, and which have an impact on the workflow.

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