Tag Archives for " virtual reality "

4 Surround Sound Miking Techniques Perfect For Virtual Reality

With virtual reality becoming more and more popular, surround sound is making a comeback. While most of the concentration on the audio side of things is on mixing, the fact of the matter is that there’s a lot of interesting information that can be captured during recording. Here’s an excerpt from my Recording Engineer’s Handbook that outlines 4 surround sound miking techniques that don’t require anything fancy in terms of microphones or encoders.

Remember that at it’s most basic, surround sound miking is just an extension of normal stereo miking techniques.

1. OCT Surround

Optimized Cardioid Triangle (OCT) is a modified Decca Tree that uses three cardioid microphones in a triangle with the center mic about three inches or so from the center, and the side mics (which face out towards the sides) 15 to 36 inches away from each other. By adding two additional rear cardioids 15 inches back from the L and R and eight inches farther outside the L and R and pointing to the rear, a surround version of OCT can be derived. For better low end response, omni’s may be substituted.

OCT. surround mikingjpg

2. IRT Cross

IRT stands for the German-based “Institute of Radio Technology” where this technique was created. This configuration is in essence a double-ORTF-setup (see ORTF in Chapter 5) with four cardioids arranged in a perfect-square-shape with an angle of 90 degrees to each other respectively. To compensate for the narrower angle compared to ORTF (which is 110 degrees), the distance between the mics is greater (eight inches compared to six inches with ORTF). Strictly speaking, the IRT microphone cross is an array for ambience recording. Its prime characteristic is a transparent and spatial reproduction of the acoustic environment, and was used for many years on NPR’s “Radio Expeditions” spectacular recordings.

IRT cross surround miking

3. Hamasaki Square

The Hamasaki Square configuration is similar to the IRT Cross except that figure 8s are substituted for cardioids. The length of each side is much wider, at about six feet, and the figure-8s have their nulls turned to the front so that this array is relatively insensitive to direct sound.

Hamasaki square surround miking

4. Double M-S

The method uses a standard M-S configuration with the addition of a rear facing cardioid mic.

Double MS surround miking

The aim of any recording is to capture the environment as well as the source, and surround miking accomplishes this goal to the extent that we have never heard before. Any of the above methods add a spaciousness that you simply can’t even approximate with outboard processors or any other previously mentioned miking techniques.

You can read more from The Recording Engineer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

June 6, 2016

New Music Gear Monday: Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation

Spatial WorkstationAs I’ve stated in other previous posts, virtual reality is coming on like a nearly invisible distant freight train. It’s not apparent to the public yet because all the movement is behind the scenes, but believe me, it’s coming hard. Just like in the early days of surround sound, it’s still like the Wild West, with tools and techniques being developed every day with virtually no standards yet. Facebook, which owns Oculus Media (which hopes to be a giant player in the headset market) has jumped on board the VR audio train by acquiring the boutique immersive audio company Two Big Ears. The Edinburgh-based company has been around since 2013 and specializes in spatial 3D audio for both movies and gaming.

The best part of the acquisition is that a set of VR tools that company used came with it, and now Facebook is giving away that package for free. Called the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, the package consists of 5 components:

  • The FB360 Spatialiser plugin, which is inserted on every channel of your DAW and acts like a very advanced 360 degree panner.
  • The FB360 Control plugin, which is inserted on a single aux channel and acts communicates with the VR player.
  • The VR Video Player, which allows you to synchronize VR video with the audio you’re mixing.
  • The FB360 Encoder, which converts your mixed audio into an acceptable VR file format.
  • The FB360 Audio Engine, which incorporates head tracking information from the VR headset and integrates it with the app.

The VR Video Player is a big deal, since synchronizing VR audio and video is now one of the more difficult things in VR post. Hopefully this will make things go a bit easier.

The Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation only works with Pro Tools 12, Reaper, and Nuendo, but it looks like it’s a dynamite set of much needed tools. And you can’t argue with the price.

Download the free software package here. For more about Facebook 360, go here.