Spatial Audio Tests & The Reaper Switch

Ok so post GDC 2017 - plenty of things to talk about, but for me one of the main standouts was finally discovering VR/AR audio and it's capabilities. A big factor in this was at the Ossic X event on Tuesday, in which I had a demo exploring the capabilities of their 3D audio headphones. These headphones do a boatload of smart things that I definitely can't explain in detail too well, like head tracking and accounting for the human anatomy, but the takeway was that VR/AR audio is here to stay, and the tech is damn good (and increasingly getting better). Very cool stuff.

Like most people, I came home after GDC with a huge spark of creativity, and being inspired by the immersive demo at the Ossic X event, I figured I'd start diving into the world of spatial audio through linear 360 video.

Coming from a post-production background, Pro Tools has basically been the go to DAW of choice. I'm very comfortable with it, and I still consider it to be my main DAW. But when it came to using the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation to place my sounds within a 3D space, I realized that I needed to do the HD upgrade for the 8 channel ambisonic format. Since I would be doing most of this work on my own free time at home (where I only own a "vanilla" version), that meant I would either have to shell out $999 for a 1-year rental of Pro Tools HD, or find another alternative.

In comes Reaper (aptly with the slogan "Audio Production without Limits"). I knew of Reaper very well from my time spent within the game audio community, but never had a reason to actually try it out. Since Reaper has all of its features under one hood, (including the 8 channel mixing needed for Spatial Workstation), it became a no brainer. Soon enough, within a couple of hours of watching Reaper Mania and The Reaper Blog videos, some nice workflow enhancements from Adam T Croft (The Instant Take Suite, which gives audiosuite like functionality, and the PT Keymap, which maps many PT shortcuts to Reaper), and the awesome people on the Reaper professionals slack channel, I was well on my way.

Using the Spatial Workstation plugin, I felt right at home designing and mixing sounds using my traditional post-production techniques. And with the latest 2.0.0 beta, Facebook introduced the ability to overlay video within their Spatializer plugin (similiar to Audioease's 360pan and 360monitor suite), so that made placing sounds on objects within the video a much easier process. I did find that I had trouble placing objects at a higher elevation - portraying this sense through sound took some experimenting and I'm not sure I've completely figured it out yet, but as a first attempt I think that it was all around a great learning experience.

Thus, here is my first sound design attempt to using spatial audio within a 360 video (I took the video from Youtube, original can be found here). Sound design wise, I know that it could use more work - my creature sounds within my library aren't the greatest, and it took a lot of manipulation with combinations of other animals (dogs, pigs, big cats, etc.) to create most of these sounds. Some of the animations in the video are also a bit sterile, but hey it's a demo! Feedback is always appreciated. And I shouldn't have to say this, but use headphones!

Note: The spatial audio will be decoded to stereo if you're using Safari or the Youtube app on iOS. See this support document for more details.

2 Films to Sundance 2017!

2 films that I had the pleasure of working on, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, and This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous will be premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week!

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous

For both films, I edited production and dialogue, which is always a challenge. Sound is often the last thing being thought about on these docs (for This Is Everything, that meant lots of GoPro footage), and what you have left usually involves a whole lot of clean up (so plenty of iZotope RX-ing!).

Both films should also be making their broadcast debut, with Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman on Discovery, and This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous on Youtube Red.

A Sound Effect Mattia Cellotto Sound Design Contest

I heard about this contest via twitter back in the end of October, and immediately I thought, why not! I've always been a fan of Mattia's field recordings, so why not try my hand at a chance to obtain some great sounds.

My entry into the Mattia Cellotto A Sound Effect Volcano sound design challenge recently won in the "Over the Top" category.

For this contest, the challenge was to design sounds using only the human voice, so naturally I started by putting up a microphone and hitting record. After watching the video a few times, I knew I would need a buildup, explosion, and aftermath elements. I also wanted the recordings to sound (tonality wise) like I had a really bad stomach ache, and I knew that I wanted to put in a few samples of silence before the explosion. After a few layering passes, a beatboxing intro, and some help from good ol' pitch shift, decapitator (for more destruction like qualities), and reverb, I came up with the results above. Enjoy!




The Northwest Soundscapes Project

The Northwest Soundscapes Project

I'll admit. I'm a sucker for new sound effects. It's like back when I was a teenager, and I always wanted to get the full albums of a new artist I found. Even though I usually only enjoyed a few songs, having the full album felt more complete. And now when it comes to sound effects, I don't just go for singles. I go for the boutique, well packaged, packed with metadata, high-quality sample rate and bit depth, multi-channel effects.

So when I see a kickstarter for a fellow sound designer working on capturing the ambiences of the Northwest the right way, I'm all in! Link is above, I hope you'll contribute as well.

2014 In Review

It's been awhile since I've last posted, and this is a pretty late "in review/end of year" post. But here it is anyway.

The end of last year arrived and came by quickly, and with it came a whole slew of new projects. Near the end of 2014, I started a new job as an assistant at an audio post-production facility. Finally at the position that I've worked for since college, I've learned a crazy amount in just the few months that I've been here. I also dialogue edited my first feature, worked on some great animation projects (one of which is doing very successful on the festival circuit), and completed my first 5.1 mix.  I saved up a whole lot of cash, and just recently bought a new computer that blows my old MBP out of the water.

With the new year I hope to continue learning and obsessing over sound, recording, editing, sound design, and mixing. A few goals on my mind so far:

  • Save up and buy a professional, high quality, field recording kit. This includes a Sound Devices 7-series recorder, a pair of M/S microphones (Sennheiser MKH series), and possibly a shotgun mic.
  • Continue doing all film work in a 5.1 format. Stereo only for smaller projects.
  • Save up and buy the few plug-ins I actually use and need.
  • Network, network, network.
  • Start gaining the trust to run the smaller sessions at work.
  • Do something sound related out of the field of post-production audio. Maybe music, maybe game audio?
  • Lastly, continue to appreciate the value of friends, family, and loved ones. I know this sounds cliche, but seriously, it's very true.

To 2015, let's hope it's a good one!


The Medieval Weapons Sound Effects Library Kickstarter

I just backed up a sweet Kickstarter that's been making a buzz on the audio blogs lately - The Medieval Weapons Sound Effects Library. Back for more from the makers of The Firearms Sound Library, you can make any donation as small as $1 to receive the full sound library, which is basically a no-brainer deal. These will definitely come in handy on my next project, which is a period piece set to take place during the Irish War of Independence.  Check out the video above for more info, and pledge a few dollars to their cause!