As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…
I understand where people are coming from with this term, but I can still hate it. Sound reproduction has been a 3D experience for decades now. The sudden enthusiasm for VR and 360 media experiences has made people think they need a catch phrase to describe sound for these mediums. The thing is, I’ve encountered filmmakers who think that the process of designing sound for VR is so radically divergent from the way we’ve done sound in the past, that it highlights how woefully uninformed our collaborators are about how we do our work. One conversation had a filmmaker trying to impress upon me the importance of being able to create the perception of distance in the sound design. They don’t realize that we already know how to do this, that we’ve been doing it in film and games all along. The way we do this hasn’t changed: lower the volume, apply EQ, and utilize reverbs or delays as appropriate and depending upon the scene’s environment. The way our profession does this does not change for VR/360 either.
What changes is the playback system (primarily headphones) and the way we generate deliverables (mostly ambisonics or binaural). Certainly, there are some new tools we need to use in the process if we want to create the perception of height while listening over headphones. Honestly though, the technologies we’re using to achieve this are decades old as well. We just suddenly have an appropriate and interesting use for them, computers powerful enough to make it a (relatively) simple task, and manufacturers creating tools that allow these workflows in nearly every DAW in existence.
I don’t know that there’s a better term to use…one that doesn’t lead our collaborators to think they need to emphasize a “new need” for a process we’re already intimately familiar with. What I do know is that, as usual, we need to demystify it enough so that they stop thinking about the process, and start thinking about the use. [/end ornery rant]