For a truly immersive experience, cinematic virtual reality needs spatial sound. Be it immersive content for VR goggles, your favorite web browser, YouTube 360 or Facebook 360 - spatial audio will make or break the VR illusion. Our tools can deliver an enveloping soundtrack to your creative ideas.
Martin Rieger labels his profession as 360° sound production, which sees him taking a holistic approach to virtual reality productions, taking more elements into account in the recording and mixing process than traditionally, and crafting the storytelling throughout the entire process.
Stephen Vitiello is an electronic musician and media artist. CD releases have been published by New Albion Records, Sub Rosa, 12k and Room 40. His sound installations and multi-channel works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon.
Thomas is a Swiss musician, music producer and sound designer. He has been working as an audio pro on all sides of the microphone for more than 20 years: As the lead guitarist of the band Lovebugs, he has played more than 1,000 concerts in Europe, recorded 13 albums, including several number-one singles, and received a number of Golden Record awards.
Just as with any video production, the key to success is correct recording. While traditional microphones still play an important role in virtual reality productions, they need to be augmented with spatial microphones that capture the full 360° ambience.
This is what the Sennheiser AMBEO VR Mic does. A single compact microphone operating on the Ambisonics principle, it allows you to capture complete spherical audio from a single point in space. Basically, you capture exactly what a listener would hear if he or she was in that position.
It sounds easy but some care should be taken to record the Ambisonics signal correctly with regard to position and level, as certain errors cannot be corrected during post-production. A field recorder that has an AMBEO VR Mic mode will help to make this task far easier.
On location, the VR Mic will usually be combined with conventional microphones such as wireless lavalier mics. This allows for increased flexibility during post-production, giving the mixing engineer greater control over the final experience.
DAW and tool chain
Mixing for cinematic virtual reality can be done in most standard DAWs as long as they support multichannel tracks, i.e. a minimum of four channels in a track. To support you in the mixing process, you should select an Ambisonics tool chain because most deliveries for cinematic virtual reality – including the AMBEO VR Mic recordings – are in Ambisonics. There are many tools to choose from, such as DearReality’s dearVR tool chain or the free Facebook Spatial Audio Workstation.
Recommended mixing paradigm
Use the recorded Ambisonics signal as the base ambience, then add signals from conventional microphones such as wireless mics and foley sound to emphasize and build your final mix.
As all Ambisonics tool chains operate in B-format, you first need to convert the AMBEO VR Mic signal to B-format using our free A-B format converter.
Additional sound sources captured by conventional microphones need to be spatialized so that they come from the correct point in space and match the video image and the ambience. This step is accomplished by your selected Ambisonics tool chain.
During mixing, it is important to monitor your Ambisonics mix. However, before you are able to listen to it, Ambisonics must be decoded. As cinematic virtual reality will in most cases be delivered over headphones, use a binaural renderer. Best practice is to monitor via the binaural renderer that is used on the platform or device that you will deliver your content to.
A note on working with Ambisonics
Ambisonics is the description of a sound field. Therefore, you should never work on any of the constituent tracks of an Ambisonics signal on its own. Always use Ambisonics mixing and editing tools if you want to modify an Ambisonics signal. When using a standard multichannel mixing tool, you must make sure that changes are applied equally to all four channels – otherwise you risk altering the spatial image of the Ambisonics signal.