How much audio is worth in VR?
VR production goes forward
Sounds around you
3D audio follows moves of your head which helps to cheat the brain even more accurately. At the beginning VR movies with standard stereo sound did not bring up all advantages of virtual reality. The brain “felt” it was cheated and the experience was limited.
3D audio, in addition to stereo is aimed at copying the natural sound experience around us. Spatial audio engages the participant much more strongly. Sound can easily move around the participant in the same way as they do around us in the real world. We can hear where exactly the sound comes from and how far it is from us.
You can create 3D audio in one of two major ways:
- Record the spatial audio originally using dedicated microphones
- Create spatial audio effect in postproduction by simulating the 3D scene set up
You would need to use advanced software to create spatial audio in postproduction. It takes into account many variables which influence our brain’s perception. They take into account delays, volumes, frequencies or wave bouncing. The end result is comparable with recording with special microphones. The major types of recording spatial audio include: binaural, spatial (ambisonics / ambix and FuMa) and TBE. The most simple way of recording 3D sound is binaural sound. It involves two microphones placed at the ear level. This way enables to reproduce the audio in experience as close to the real experience as possible. Spatial involves sounds flowing around the participant, above and below the head in the 3D space. Spatial is not transmitting sound automatically to loudspeakers. It is based on a B-format standard which decodes audio to an individual loudspeaker set up. Depending on coding type it includes: ambisonics/ambix and FuMa. FuMa used to be more popular until Youtube chose ambix as the major format. You can lean more about spatial audio from VRTL Academy: https://vrtl.academy/news/how-to-record-spatial-sound-in-a-vr-360-film-set/.
TBE format was created by Two Big Ears company as one of binaural sound standards. Facebook bought this technology and implemented in its Facebook360 project.
You can check how binaural sound works:
If you’re looking for a good example The Scream VR app provides and interesting use of 3D audio. Thanks to the virtual reality and spatial sound we become part of the painting and action around it.
Binaural audio is inevitably becoming an integral part of virtual reality experiences. If you want to learn about VR or produce content you need to take audio into account. The more inputs you have the deeper you can dive into the virtual experience. Sound is equally important as the video and its role will definitely be growing.