Spatial sound, immersive audio or 360 sound is an emerging technology pioneered in the VR / AR space. So new, in fact, that as yet even the YouTube iOS app on iPhone and iPad doesn’t support spatial sound alongside its 360 videos.
Think of spatial audio as 3D sound for 360 videos. It’s an immersive sphere of audio meant to replicate how humans would hear and recognise the position of sound in real life, all delivered over headphones. As audiences move around in a 360 video, the sound moves around with them, helping to place them in the context of the scene.
Once a 360 video is shared on Facebook, audiences will be able to experience the video with spatial audio through any set of stereo headphones on compatible devices.
We’ve worked extensively with binaural sound recording, and whilst to my ears this provides the most holographic 3D image, it is limited in that with a single set of “ears” on a dummy head or even on the sound recordist, you can only deliver the viewpoint of sound at one point in space and facing in one direction. With the tools for spatial audio, the viewer can at least look around within the 360 field for a more immersive, connected experience that changes every time. The added advantage of creating spatial audio in post production is that you can build the scene much as you would any other piece of audio post, using microphone feeds from presenters, sound design elements, atmosphere, even music which takes the pressure off the recording process a little. With binaural recording, what you record is what you get. Great for a live performance, quite limiting for creative content, programming etc. Spatial audio also allows the creation of immersive 3D sound for animation, something previously unavailable.
Not limited to just post production spatial sound, we’ve recently been working to create immersive spatial music. So rather than mixing for stereo, we can create a spatial mix that can either be enjoyed as a fixed binaural sound mix with heightened realism, or more interestingly combined with a 360 video which allows the listener to literally move the music as it plays. Have a listen – it’s insanely cool
For mobile devices, use the Facebook version on our Facebook page. (use the Facebook app for iOS / Android)
What can we do with spatial audio?
– Turn your Facebook 360 video into a fully immersive event with head-locked 360 spatial audio
– Add spatial audio to 360 YouTube videos
– Mix ambisonics feeds with sound design and dialogue elements to create the 360 audio
– Mix music in spatial audio. We can even have a fully immersive 360 video built around the music…
This is early days with the technology, and this page will evolve as the technology and standards mature and take shape.
When combined effectively, fully integrated visual and sonic perception work in perfect harmony that enables us to see, hear, feel and appreciate the beauty and richness of our world. Virtual reality already proved its effectiveness in video storytelling, gaming, educational training, social interaction and medical applications. In order to make any of the above experiences successful, it requires a coherent approach of applying sound and visual content to make it as effective for its purpose as possible – more immersive, more authentic and as the result more engaging, more memorable, more empathetic, more fun and ultimately good enough to have a desire to come back and experience it again and again.*
*text taken in part from the Facebook 360 documentation.