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Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 11 ASMR The Feeling of Sound

Summary

In this special episode of the Immersive Audio Podcast, we explore the phenomenon of ASMR and talk to a variety of guests to understand how it works, the effect it has on an individual, the subculture surrounding it and the future of it as an art form.

This episode features the input of two of the top researchers in the study of ASMR: Dr Craig Richard, Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University in Virginia and founder of the ASMR University and Dr Diego Garro, Senior Lecturer of Music and Music Technology at Keele University in the UK. We also got the chance to talk to Avril Furness (VR Filmmaker) and Emma Smith aka WhispersRed (ASMRtist on YouTube), two London-based creative women who’ve worked with ASMR and Immersive Audio both separately and collaboratively.

Listen to Podcast

Featured Guests

Avril Furness is a pioneering Independent Director, Writer and Virtual Reality Filmmaker specialising in 360 and Action. Avril’s debut interactive 360 VR film The Last Moments was presented at New York’s Metropolitan Museum at their ‘In Our Time Symposium’, as part of their ‘Most exciting and critical spatial projects of 2017’ and at THE WIRED LIVE Event, London, 2017. It was nominated for ‘Best Director Award’ at Underwire and ‘Most Immersive Award’ at Encounters festival 2017. Recently Avril Directed an interactive live action 360 VR film in Beirut, Lebanon with The International Committee of The Red Cross. Avril is currently shooting a VR documentary in the flood tunnels beneath Las Vegas, Nevada; shot from the perspective of a homeless addict.

Dr Craig Richard is a Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia.  In 2014, he founded the website, ASMR University. Dr Richard has recently completed the book, “Brain Tingles” to assist others understand and apply the techniques, tools, and secrets for every ASMR trigger type.  This guide should be helpful for parents soothing infants or putting children to bed, friends relaxing each other, partners stimulating tingles in each other, creators of ASMR media, and practitioners of relaxation techniques at spas, wellness centers, and health studios.

Dr. Diego Garro is a senior lecturer at Keele University, where he contributes to the Music Technology and Music programmes. His teaching focuses on Electroacoustic Music, Music Technology and Computer Video Art. His research interests lie in creative electronic media and his output includes audio and audio-visual works which are regularly selected and performed in UK and abroad. He has also has a research interest in ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and contributes to the ASMR community with writings, reviews and content under the pseudonym Vobis ASMR.

Known as Emma WhispersRed, Emma Smith was born in Lancaster by the northwest coast of England and moved to London at age 18. She lives with her husband, two children and two dogs amongst fields just outside the chaos of the city. She is an ASMR content creator on YouTube and films her videos in a soundproof shed in my garden, ‘The Tingle Shed’.

Shownotes

ASMR University – https://asmruniversity.com/

ASMR University Research Project – https://asmruniversity.com/asmr-survey/

ASMR University Research Project Survey – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ASMRsurvey

Autonomous Meridian Sensory Response – From Internet Subculture to Audiovisual Therapy by Dr Diego Garro – https://ewic.bcs.org/content/ConWebDoc/58105

Avril Furness and Emma Smith 360º ASMR Video – http://www.avrilfurness.com/project/360-audio-sensory-meridian-response-vr-sound-healing-film/

Black Mirror IMDb Page – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/

Book Pre-order for Dr Richard – https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Tingles-Triggering-Head-Toe/dp/150720762X

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Death: The Human Experience https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/whats-on/death-human-experience/

Dignitas Clinic – http://www.dignitas.ch/?lang=en

The Goon Show on BBC iPlayer – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0072vdz

The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxcnsr1R5Ge_fbTu5ajt8DQ

Keele University – https://www.keele.ac.uk/

Keele University Faculty, Dr Diego Garro – https://www.keele.ac.uk/music/people/diegogarro/

The Last Moments Dignetas VR experience – http://www.avrilfurness.com/project/the-last-moments/

Oculus Rift Official Site – https://www.oculus.com/rift/

Shenandoah University – https://www.su.edu/

Shenandoah University Faculty, Dr Craig Richard – https://www.su.edu/faculty-staff/faculty/craig-richard/

WhisperingLife on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/WhisperingLife

WhispersRed on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/WhispersRedASMR

 

 

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 10 Jane Gauntlett & Tessa Ratuszynska (In My Shoes)

Summary

Today we have two special guests in studio, Jane Gauntlett & Tessa Ratuszynska. Jane is a writer for film and theatre. She experiments with new technologies, focusing on designing high-impact experiences with a strong narrative. In 2011 Jane founded the In My Shoes Project, an ever-expanding library of interactive experiences which use story, theatre, audio-visual technology, virtual reality and first person documentary to recreate real-life experiences.

Tessa is a documentary filmmaker, installation artist and creative producer for virtual reality and performance. She is a producer of new media documentary, with particular creative focus in virtual reality, 360 documentary and has a passion for the potential for affecting works of interactive non-fiction. In My Shoes: Intimacy was written and directed by Jane and Tessa was creative producer.

In this episode we speak about early adoption of VR, the advances in technology and keeping ahead of the curve. We discuss reaching out to younger audiences, the importance of not using technology for the sake of it and this new technology as a platform for immersive storytelling.

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Shownotes

Video goggles – Vuzix: https://www.vuzix.com/

Oculus: https://www.oculus.com/

HoloLens: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/hololens

In My Shoes: http://janegauntlett.com/inmyshoesproject/

Intimacy: http://janegauntlett.com/in-my-shoes-intimacy/

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 9 James Edward Marks

Summary

In today’s episode we’re joined by James E. Marks, an experimental new media provocateur. He is a creator of award-winning social video edutainment, and maker of immersive mixed and virtual reality experiences. With over 20 years of hands-on collaborations with alternative, pop culture branded and unbranded entertainment, James is Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer for DoubleMe, a Silicon Valley transformative tech start-up that’s pushing the boundaries of holographic mixed reality. He is also the founder of PsychFi Lab & Hackstock Festival. At PsychFi, he collaborates with the biggest social video & moving image artists, exploring immersive tech, psychology, psychedelia, sci-fi and pop culture.

In this episode we discuss the importance of sound and all senses in an immersive experience, new technology and how it has changed the approach to composing.

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Shownotes

MWC18 & BBC Click – Mixed Reality For Social Good: https://youtu.be/N97MHHO4XHM

#HackThePlanet & ComiCon VR World Record Setters: https://youtu.be/FRupTnhW3UM

Harry Shotta, DJ Phantasy, 24SevenTV & PsychFi Labs: https://youtu.be/ZJfD71bMl_Y

Hackstock 4.0 & LoopSpace World Premiere: https://youtu.be/Z7X1ejKmXU0

PZYK & PsychFi Top Alt Reality Experience: https://blog.oup.com/2018/03/virtual-reality-games-simulate-altered-states

PsychFi & Webby Awards: https://www.webbyawards.com/winners/2016/online-film-video/general-film/vr-gaming-interactive-or-real-time/hacktheplanet-vr

Summer in the City: http://www.sitc-event.co.uk

GoPro: https://gopro.com/

Subpac: http://subpac.com/

HoloLens: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/hololens

Holoportal: http://www.doubleme.me/#holoportal

Third Mind Productions: http://www.thirdmindcreates.com/

DoubleMe: http://www.doubleme.me/

Hackstock: https://sci-fi-london.com/hackstock-stuff-we-are-doing

 

1.618 Digital to join Czech VR Fest 2018

We are delighted to announce that 1.618 Digital will be attending the Czech VR Fest 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech VR Fest is now in its second year and will be taking place from the 10th until the 12th of May. Oliver Kadel will be giving a presentation on Immersive and Interactive Audio on the 10th of May at 17.30. If you are attending the festival, be sure to drop by and say hello.

Tickets and more information about the Czech VR Fest, including a list of speakers can be found here: https://www.czechvrfest.com

1.618 Digital Team

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 6 Catherine Robinson

Summary

In today’s episode we are joined in studio by Catherine Robinson, Audio Supervisor at BBC Wales. Catherine has worked in radio sound for the BBC since 2001. Her specialism is sound design for radio drama, binaural audio and 3D sound for 360 video and VR. Catherine created the sound design and binaural mix for Ring, a horror radio drama for Radio 4. Following the success of that, Catherine has set up the first operational 3D sound studio in the BBC outside Research and Development, using their tools.

Some of the binaural productions that have been created in the 3D studio are: The Russell T Davies adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was the first ever binaural feature film; six 360 films for Planet Earth 2 using dynamic binaural sound design; and an episode of Doctor Who called ‘Knock Knock’ which is the first binaural TV drama to be made available on BBC iPlayer.

Catherine discusses her role at the BBC, the first binaural episode of a TV program available on the BBC iPlayer – Doctor Who, how content will drive immersive audio consumption and bringing immersive audio to the masses.

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Show notes

Middlesex University London: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/

BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/

BBC Wales: https://www.bbc.com/wales

BBC Radio Wales: https://www.bbc.co.uk/radiowales

BBC Radio 4: https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

BBC Research and Development: https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd

Ring – By Koji Suzuki. Adapted by Anita Sullivan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06g63fk

The Stone Tapes – Peter Strickland re-imagines a classic seventies horror for Radio 4’s Fright Night: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06g63fh

Fright Night : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03328l0

Binaural Audio at the BBC Proms: http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2016-09-binaural-proms

Tom Parnell: http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/people/tom-parnell

Doctor Who: Binaural Episode: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p051x29z

Darran Clement: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darran-clement-00313b55

A midsummer night’s Dream – Classic Shakespeare play adapted for television by Russell T. Davies:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07dx7lt

Brian Minchin: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1848198/

BBC Binaural Sound: https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/binaural-broadcasting

BBC Radio 4 – Pod Plays: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05b8wfv

Damming the Nile: Explore with 360 video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-43117710

Becky Lipscombe – BBC Africa Producer – Twitter: https://twitter.com/Beckstatic

BBC Radio Wales: The Sounds of Wales: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05zrd8y

Hugh Huddy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-huddy-0b23562/Royal National Institute of Blind People: http://www.rnib.org.uk/

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 5 Samuel Huber

Summary

Today we are joined in the studio by Samuel Huber, the founder of Admix.in, the first adtech platform for mixed reality, giving VR, AR and MR developers the best tools to monetize their content. He frequently speaks at VR, AR and adtech conferences  and is obsessed with the convergence of frontier technology, adtech, and consumer behaviour. Sam has previously disrupted the e-commerce market with Kout.io, a gamified e-commerce platform where users play free games to win their shopping basket, live with 20 of the largest retailers. He is a social gambling pioneer with Betify, a gamified video sharing app. He built and sold Rogue Trader, the first binary trading game on the App Store. In a previous life, Sam was responsible for Mercedes Formula 1 engine strategy (season 2011/2012). He has a MSc Engineering from Cranfield

Uni (UK), BSc Physics from EPFL (Switzerland) and Uppsala Uni (Sweden).

Sam discusses Admix and advertising in a non-intrusive way, monetisation solutions and the importance of audio in VR advertising.

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Shownotes

Admix: http://admix.in/

Oculus Rift: https://www.oculus.com/rift/

Samsung Gear VR: http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-vr/

Face Your Fears: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/gear-vr/1168200286607832/

Unity: https://unity3d.com/

Unreal Engine: https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/what-is-unreal-engine-4

HTC Vive: https://www.vive.com/uk/product/

Oculus Go: https://www.oculus.com/go/

Immersive Audio Podcast – Episode 4 Sally-Anne Kellaway

Summary

In today’s episode we are joined by Sally-Anne Kellaway via Skype. Sally is the Senior Audio Designer on the Microsoft Mixed Reality – Audio and AI team, and an industry leading VR Audio Evangelist.

She has extensive experience in sound recording, editing, implementation and testing for interactive media in standard and VR/AR and has an interest in implementing true 3D spatial hearing and binaural sound in video games and other interactive experiences. She is the founder of the Virtual Reality Content Creators Network of Australia (VRCC)  which is a not for profit community for virtual reality and associated industries. The VRCC advocates for innovation and connection for all professionals working in virtual, augmented and mixed reality industries in Australia.

Previously the Creative Director at OSSIC, the leading audio technology providers active in the VR space, she has a Masters in Acoustics with a focus on psychoacoustics and spatial audio from the University of Sydney. Sally-Anne is sought after by VR and AR developers, Software and Middleware developers, Conferences, Meetup Groups and Panels to develop and consult on sound design, implementation, tutorials and presentations. She is the Founder of the Women/NB in VR Group for Australia and co-organiser of the San Diego VR community group and is on the AES Technical Committee for Game Audio (Spatial Audio) and on the Diversity and Inclusion Working group.

Sally is a vocal advocate for VR, AR and MR as the future of audio, entertainment and industry and uses her education in Sound Design, Acoustics and Psychoacoustics to rise the tide for all audio professionals passionate about the future.

In this episode, Sally-anne speaks about head-tracking, the future of Audio AR, and diversity in the industry.

Listen To Podcast

Shownotes

Sally-anne Kellaway: http://soundsbysal.weebly.com

University of Sydney: https://sydney.edu.au/

The Virtual Barbershop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA

OSSIC: https://www.ossic.com/

Audio Engineering Society: http://www.aes.org/

Virtual Reality Content Creators of Australia: http://www.vrcc-aus.rocks/

The Wave VR: http://thewavevr.com/

Zero Latency VR: https://www.zerolatencyvr.com/

1.618 To Join The Panel at The BVE 2018 Excel London

1.618 Digital will be taking part in a panel at The Storyteller Theatre at the BVE 2018 Expo Excel London. Oliver Kadel will be discussing the use of immersive audio in modern storytelling, covering everything from future technologies to next generation audio. We’d love to see you there!

The panel discussion takes place on the 1st of Match at 12.30. You can get your free ticket here: Ticket Registration

Check out what else is taking place at BVE 2018.

 

See you soon!

1.618 Team

What YouTube’s Heatmap Is Really Saying About 360 Video

YouTube recently announced a new analytics tool for 360-degree and virtual reality content creators: heatmaps that illustrate where viewers are actually looking. The new tool allows creators to see exactly what parts of their video are holding a viewer’s attention, and for how long.

YouTube has also released some enlightening early statistics on how – and this is important – viewers currently engage with immersive content.

“Surprisingly” (says YouTube), viewers spend 75% of their time focused on the front 90 degrees of an immersive video. Understandably, this figure has a lot of people questioning the point of VR content if the audience is only willing to engage with a quarter of it.

It’s an easy argument to make, but perhaps what these numbers are really saying is that VR content creators need to learn new ways to grab viewers attention in a 360º world?

Ever since moving pictures became something we watched for entertainment purposes, our eyes have been guided by camera angles to tell us where to look. For over a century that’s what the viewing audience has come to expect.

Virtual reality reminds us very much of the 2D world of film and television, but it’s an entirely different medium with its own set of rules that are still being written. Nothing is set in stone.

And camera angles? Well, those are up to the viewer to choose.

Content creators in the virtual reality space have the difficult task of catching the attention of an audience with over 100 years of collective viewing experience of looking straight ahead.

Does this make virtual reality a fad? A gimmick? No, of course not. It simply means that VR can’t rely on the same tools that have been used for film and television to engage an audience in a fully-immersive format.

That’s a lot of unlearning to do for content creators, and a lot of new learning to do as the format develops. It’s an exciting new frontier.

Back to YouTube’s statistics: the most popular VR videos had the audience looking behind them almost 20% of the time. Markers and animation are what the company suggests will help draw attention to other parts of the surrounding space. In our day to day lives our attention is constantly guided by signs, so it’s a helpful suggestion. But think about this: what’s the one sure thing that will make you stop whatever you’re looking at and focus your attention elsewhere?

Sound…

We are programmed to react to sound. In a split second we must figure out where that sound is coming from and what it means. It is as true in the virtual world as it is in the real world, which is why 1.618 Digital is passionate about high-quality spatialised sound.

Spatial audio can be an effective tool to lead or surprise your audience.  By being in the habit of looking in one direction at any given time, the viewer can easily miss out on what is happening behind or beside them. Through the creative implementation of sonic cues within an immersive environment content creators can control or suggest a narrative. Ultimately, this encourages the audience to engage with specific elements – or viewing angles – within the experience.

Virtual reality is an effective form of visual storytelling. What YouTube’s early heatmap data points to isn’t VR’s failure to engage its viewers. It’s the bigger picture of where audience attention currently is, and the gaps content creators need to fill to direct it elsewhere.

1.618 Digital Team

Discussing the importance of spatial audio on happyfinish.com

Importance of Spatial Audio In VR Content

Hearing is fundamental to our perception of the surrounding world.  Achieving this effect in virtual reality requires audio that sounds real and authentic.  Implementing spatial audio to create full immersion in 360° video or interactive VR requires capturing audio or a physical acoustic modeling of the space where the scene takes place.  An appropriate soundscape can provide the quickest path to immersion for just about any VR experience, and even removing the visual element, still enables us to sufficiently perceive the surrounding world – giving us a sense of space, time, and presence.  In contrast, the silent experiences, or the ones with incongruent sound would break the sense of presence and immersion, thus immediately removing the suspension of disbelief, and as a result substantially degrading the overall experience.

Spatial sound recording or let’s do it in post?

The use of conventional industry formats such as Mono (single channel) and Stereo (two channels) are a basic requirement, although they are limiting and no longer sufficient to offer full immersion in 360° videos or interactive VR experiences.  The use of spatial audio is the only way to create true three-dimensional audio, which utilises higher number of channels, be it capturing sound on location or through the means of sound design and mixing in post-production.  Depending on the nature of the project both methods are important.  Often to design the full sonic experience in VR, it requires spatial sound recording on set along with sound design and spatialisation of individual elements in post-production such as atmosphere, dialogue, foley, sound effects, and music.

Ambisonic format is the most effective method to capture location sound

There are a number of ways to capture the location sound.  However, the most effective method is to record in an ambisonic format which utilises four channels capturing the sound in all directions, along with discrete sound sources such as dialogue or any required diegetic sounds that are part of the scene.  The latter can then be positioned accordingly within the 3D soundfield by employing specialist spatialisation software within audio editing application or a game engine.  This approach enables VR audio content makers to work with an adequate resolution within the virtual space for positioning sound components across four, 16 or more virtual or physical channels.

Ambisonic sound offers a number of significant benefits that play a crucial role in making experiences as realistic as possible.

-Firstly, sound that was captured in all directions then enables the user to move their head and body while wearing any head-mounted display, and with a use of head-tracking system perceive their own dynamic position within the space in relation to the surrounding environment.

-Second, greater channel count offers more accuracy in positioning individual elements within the 3D space. This avoids everything coming from the same general direction as is common when listening to music, but lacking in realism when comes to creating a metaverse or offering your audience an authentic 360° video experience.

Why is this essential?

The considerations mentioned above are essential due the phenomenon described as a head-related transfer function (HRTF), which is a response that informs how our ears perceive sound from own position in space.  Collectively, head-related functions for both ears give a perception of binaural sound, enabling us to effectively identify a location and a distance of sound sources by constantly receiving sonic information to measure sound intensity and the time difference between sounds arriving to both ears.  We re-create this psychoacoustic process in post-production to then achieve a latency-free, real-time binaural rendering via a close approximation of personal HRTF.  It is essential to take human physiology into consideration when making audience fully immersed and enjoy their experience, be it a story, game or cognitive therapy etc.

The use of audio in marketing campaigns to guide your audience in 360° content

Unlike 2D content where a viewer can see the entire field of view in one direction, the 360° environment presents challenges as well as the opportunities for creative content makers when it comes to constructing the narrative.  Spatial audio can be an effective tool to lead or surprise your audience.  By looking in one direction at any given time, the viewer can easily miss out on what is behind them or sidewards, by implementing sonic cues within the space we can control or suggest a narrative.  By helping our audience to navigate through their point of view, we can ultimately guide them to and encourage them to engage with a specific element within the experience.

What is more important?

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.

1.618 Team