Virtual reality is a big disrupter for the entertainment business, especially the movie industry.
It changes how we watch videos, and the ways we interact with digital images in a 3D space environment. But a great cinematic experience is never complete without an exceptional element: the audio.
“This technology will evolve a whole new way of storytelling but everyone is worried about the video, it is time for VR audio to be an equal partner to VR video,” says Robert Margouleff, Grammy award winner recording engineer and producer who has been in the audio business for about 40 years.
Margouleff is currently on the advisory board for an immersive audio company called HEAR360 — a Los Angeles based company providing hardware and software solutions to deliver theatrical quality, head-trackable sound.
“When I first came upon the synthesizer back in 1970, it changed my world. I fell in love with electronica. Today, I see the same thing happening again. Virtual reality is going to change the way people create. It’s becoming a new art form. Everybody is trying to figure out how to be a storyteller in VR.”
One simple rule in a traditional movie scene is that the director points the camera to something in order to tell the viewer a story, but in VR the camera sees everything. So how can we conduct the action in such a large environment? Robert Margouleff’s answer is audio.
“At HEAR360 we have developed an incredible microphone called 8Ball with a tracking software that allows 360 filmmakers to deliver theatrical quality, head trackable audio,” Margouleff says.
“Using the microphone is not hard. It can be attached to any 360 degree video camera rig. No special decoder is required for playback for processing on the listener side of the mobile app.”
The result is holographic sound that immediately immerses the viewer into a virtual world where audio elements can be identified by turning the head from one side to another, just like in the real world.
Lexi Baker is the first recording artist to release a song in 360 immersive audiotechnology.
Margouleff says, one of the most important part of music is spatialization — the process of giving the listener the impression of a sound source within a three-dimensional environment.
“When the recording was invented we could not store the information of spatialization — where the sound was coming from. So we ditched it and used echo/reverb to substitute the sense of space and distance. With the new audio technologies available, it is now possible to offer that information to audiences.”
But the solutions are not just simply there for creative people yet. Still, there are many issues to explore and new rules to be written.
“When the synthesizer first came out I just wanted to be inside the music. My passion for this new technology helped me to work with Stevie Wonder. Back in that time there was no book, school, or anything else. I learned it by just doing it. This is the secret of creativity. Technology drives the art. With virtual reality, same thing is happening again.”