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.

Audio Podcast & iOS App Roundup Pt. 1

Living in Brooklyn and working in midtown Manhattan, I've found that I have a nice chunk of time commuting to and from work each day. To make up this unused time, I've been listening to podcasts (audio and non audio related), and playing with some new iOS apps along the way. Below is a compiled list that anyone interested in audio (and even if you're not!) should definitely take a look at.


Possibly my favorite of all the audio podcasts, Mike and the team have been doing this podcast for over 9 years and I've just gotten into it over the past 2. Talking about everything from post-audio, to music mixing, sound design, and the current state of the audio industry, it's definitely a must for all audio nerds!


Another great audio podcast - this one focuses more on sound design techniques and field recording, but there's some great interviews (Will Files! Gordon Hempton!) as well. Their new "Soundbytes" segments are a great addition in a shorter format.

Pro Tools Expert

A no brainer if you use Pro Tools as your main DAW. These guys are the wizards of Pro Tools and they know every trick, tip, and/or shortcut in the book. Also a great podcast to listen to for plug-in deals, competitions, and keeping up with everything Pro Tools related.

Beards, Cats And Indie Game Audio

I've been making my way into game audio for the past few months, attempting to get an idea of how the workflow differs from audio post-production. Learning to craft dynamic (changing according to a characters' decisions) sound design is a totally different art in itself, and this podcast has taught me more about game audio that I could ever ask for. A relatively new podcast, but already a winner in the field of game audio.

Gameaudio Podcast

From the guys who brought together all the audio heads at GDC (Game Developers Conference) in SF a couple weeks back, the Gameaudio Podcast has been keeping me up to date with all the latest news concerning audio middleware (FMOD, Wwise, etc.) technologies and other game audio news. Really looking forward to their future episodes and learning more about this side of the industry.


Moving on to the non-audio related side of things, WNYC's Radiolab is a breath of fresh air when looking to tune out of the audio world. The stories produced on this podcast are intriguing, fun, and largely entertaining - I don't think there's a podcast that gets me so hooked on the story with each episode. Definitely a must listen!


For most of us in our 20-something's, just trying to get by and make it is the main hustle, and this podcast hosted by Matt Pana touches on that very subject. Having conversations with people in the music, art, and entertainment industries, this podcast allows anyone who's currently building up their career to relate to the daily gig.


That's it for the podcasts! If anyone has more suggestions I'm definitely open to them - comment in the field below. Next post will be on audio iOS apps. Stay tuned!




Two recent animations that I worked on are screening next Wednesday, May 7th, 6pm at the SVA Theater (333 West 23rd St.). More details about the event can be found at the Facebook event page here. 

"Cocodile" - a film by Harris Wu & Wenting Wu, follows a young croc and his comedic quest for love. Read more about the sound design at my blog post here, or find out more at their tumblr!

"Kia Rex" - a film by Yandong Qiu, follows a young hero who in the midst of playtime, quickly realizes a fantasy world through his imagination, and a potential danger that lies within.

Both of these films presented unique challenges within themselves. "Cocodile" required a mix between organic and "sweetened" sounds, whereas "Kia Rex" lent it's own problems in the mix with a heavy score and a packed SFX stem. I found that these problems occur especially within animation, as I felt that the sound design can often be very tricky to get just right. Thankfully, with some great direction (and revisions), I was able to take both films and showcase my creative input. Hope to see you at the screenings!

The 4 Minute Workout

With the post-production sound industry constantly growing with new forms of media, I often get the chance to work on some new material different from the usual short film that I'm most often used to. When I was asked by Prevention Magazine to edit and mix a 4 minute workout video, I took it as an opportunity to further work on mixing and editing under time restraints, as this video needed to be turned out immediately the following day. After receiving the OMF and picture by 6pm, I immediately went to work, focusing on the mix between dialog and music. The biggest issue in this spot was that one of the lavalier microphones cut out during the shoot, so it became my job to clarify and tweak any audio that was not as audible. See the final result above (may not work on Chrome - try Safari or Firefox).