WHAT AM I HEARING IN A 360º VIDEO?

2017 is definitely the year for Virtual Reality. One of its main objectives is to standardize the contents for virtual reality and move to the next step: From marketing to cinematographic contents. We can already find highly controlled 360 productions, with huge image quality, VFX and sound that astounds the viewer.

Usually, 360 videos generate interest with image, but the accompanying sound is usually the perfect complement to achieve an ideal production.
Historically, audio has always been one step behind in the cinematic world. We can remember classic black and white films with a pianist in a movie theater. Later, stereo sound was introduced, and we can currently enjoy Dolby systems that make films more impressive and immersive.
Now it’s “spatial sound”’s turn.
Spatial sound or 3D sound allows us to locate each sound relative to its source. This means that the user, by simply moving his or her head, knows what sound is playing and in what direction, making it a great tool for guiding the narrative of 360 videos.

Let’s explain it with a specific example. If a person is speaking in front of us, we hear it coming from the front. If the actor continues talking and we look to the right, we will hear the monologue more intensely in the left ear. In short, we’ll be able to get into the story as if we were really there.

The “Ambisonics” technology has existed since the 70’s, but last year, microphones capable of recording VR productions were released. These microphones consist of a head with four capsules that capture the sound of the whole 360º sphere.

Although there were already ambisonic microphones, such as the SPS200 Soundfield, big brands like Sennheiser wanted to join them by releasing microphones with great sensitivity as the Ambeo. Other unknown brands like Brahma have adapted a microphone with four capsules to record directly to a Zoom H2n, the only recorder on the market that can record spatial audio.

On the other hand, Android has been the first operating system capable of playing 360 videos with spatial audio, but iOS still doesn’t allow us to enjoy an experience with spatial audio using their devices. Facebook also allows us to listen to a video with 3D audio, as long as it is played from a mobile device.

So, the next time you watch a 360 video, put your headphones on!

 

– Javier Acosta –