What and why?

What is 3D Audio and where we are today?

3D audio is more authentic to our ears than 2D stereo. 3D audio gives the listener a sense of space and creates more awareness for the sounds around by being able to identify the sound source in the space.

It all started back in 1881 when French inventor Clement Ader setup the first binaural audio on the stage of Paris Opera House. It is a method of recording using two omnidirectional microphones placed in each ear of a dummy head (mannequin). Listening back using headphones, will create the sensation of being in the room where the recording took place. However, the binaural audio it’s able to reproduce the sound sources only from the horizontal plane.

In 1970s British National Research Development Corporation developed Ambisonics. Unlike binaural audio, ambisonics can reproduce a full 360° surround sphere. It hasn’t been a commercial success but with today’s increased development in Virtual and Augmented Reality, it started to become very popular for sound engineers, sound designers, and the games industry as the headphones are mostly used when it comes to these areas. If the games industry is more evolved when it comes to 3D sound, the film industry it’s just at the beginning but continues to grow.

Because of the growth of the mobile industry in the past 3 years, Dolby Laboratories brought the 3D sound at a new level by creating the Dolby Atmos Mobile Technology (started in 2012 for cinema) which gives a full 3D perception of the space when listening with headphones. Many mobile manufacturers like Amazon, Lenovo or Nokia have already started to implement it on their devices. But even if the device has the necessary processor, the film must be mixed in Dolby Atmos which is still an expensive technology and not easy to access. From studio set-up to software, the investment can be a substantial one. There are no clear data about the cost of a professional Dolby Atmos system, but considering that there are about three Dolby Atmos studios in the UK, one of them being at Dolby Digital Studios proves that it’s not an accessible technology.

The purpose of the project

The purpose of the project is to use the ambisonics and binaural technology (currently used in games), to create a full 3D soundtrack for film and try to emulate the Dolby Atmos Mobile effect using Reaper as a main DAW, and freeware 3D Audio plug-ins currently used for 360° videos and games. By succeeding with the implementation and the emulation, any users are going to be able to enjoy 3D sound on any devices, and film producers, as well as post-production engineers, will be able to create the soundtrack in 3D sound at almost no costs.

What’s next?

In the future weeks, a short 1-minute demo will be released to test the initial implementation by asking you, the user, to give feedback via an online survey.

Based on the survey results, the necessary adjustments will be done, and a final implementation will be applied on a full soundtrack for a short film which will be decided in near feature.

All the final implementation steps will be posted on this blog. From sound design to edit, mix and final release.

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