As 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.