Tag Archives: Pro Sound Effects

Sound editor/mixer Korey Pereira on 3D audio workflows for VR

By Andrew Emge

As the technologies for VR and 360 video rapidly advance and become more accessible, media creators are realizing the crucial role that sound plays in achieving realism. Sound designers are exploring this new frontier of 3D audio at the same time that tools for the medium are being developed and introduced. When everything is so new and constantly evolving, how does one learn where to start or decide where to invest time and experimentation?

To better understand this process, I spoke with Korey Pereira, a sound editor and mixer based in Austin, Texas. He recently entered the VR/360 audio world and has started developing a workflow.

Can you provide some background about who you are, the work you’ve done, and what you’ve been up to lately?
I’m the owner/creative director at Soularity Sound, an Austin-based post company. We primarily work with indie filmmakers, but also do some television and ad work. In addition to my work at Soularity, I also work as a sound editor and mixer at a few other Austin post facilities, including Soundcrafter. My credits with them include Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Everybody Wants Some, as well as TV shows such as Shipping Wars and My 600lb Life.

You recently purchased the Pro Sound Effects NYC Ambisonics library. Can you talk about some VR projects you are working on?
In the coming months I plan to start creating audio content for VR with a local content creator, Deepak Chetty. Over the years we have collaborated on a number of projects, most recently I worked on his stereoscopic 3D sci-fi/action film, Hard Reset, which won the 2016 “Best 3D Live Action Short” from the Advanced Imaging Society.

Deepak Chetty shooting a VR project.

I love sci-fi as a genre, because there really are no rules. It lets you really go for it as far as sound. Deepak has been shifting his creative focus toward 360 content and we are hoping to start working together in that aspect in the near future.

The content Deepak is currently mostly working on non-fiction and documentary-based content in 360 — mainly environment capture with a through line of audio storytelling that serves as the backbone of the piece. He is also looking forward to experimenting with fiction-based narratives in the 360 space, especially with the use of spatial audio to enhance immersion for the viewer.

Prior to meeting Deepak, did you have any experience working with VR/3D audio?
No, this is my first venture into the world of VR audio or 3D audio. I have been mixing in surround for over a decade, but I am excited about the additional possibilities this format brings to the table.

What have been the most helpful sources for studying up and figuring out a workflow?
The Internet! There is such a wealth of information out there, and you kind of just have to dive in. The benefit of 360 audio being a relatively new format is that people are still willing to talk openly about it.

Was there anything particularly challenging to get used to or wrap your head around?
In a lot of ways designing audio for VR is not that different from traditional sound mixing for film. You start with a bed of ambiences and then place elements within a surround space. I guess the most challenging part of the transition is anticipating how the audience might hear your mix. If the viewer decides to watch a whole video facing the surrounds, how will it sound?

Can you describe the workflow you’ve established so far? What are some decisions you’ve made regarding DAW, monitoring, software, plug-ins, tools, formats and order of operation?
I am a Pro Tools guy, so my main goal was finding a solution that works seamlessly inside the Pro Tools environment. As I started looking into different options, the Two Big Ears Spatial Workstation really stood out to me as being the most intuitive and easiest platform to hit the ground running with. (Two Big Ears recently joined Facebook, so Spatial Workstation is now available for free!)

Basically, you install a Pro Tools plug-in that works as a 3D audio engine and gives you a Pro Tools project with all the routing and tracks laid out for you. There are object-based tracks that allow you to place sounds within a 3D environment as well as ambience tracks that allow you to add stereo or ambisonic beds as a basis for your mix.

The coolest thing about this platform is that it includes a 3D video player that runs in sync with Pro Tools. There is a binaural preview pathway in the template that lets you hear the shift in perspective as you move the video around in the player. Pretty cool!

In September 2016, another audio workflow for VR in Pro Tools entered the market from the Dutch company Audio Ease and their 360 pan suite. Much like the Spatial Workstation, the suite offers an object-based panner (360 pan) that when placed on every audio track allows you to pan individual items within the 360-degree field of view. The 360 pan suite also includes the 360 monitor, which allows you to preview head tracking within Pro Tools.

Where the 360 pan suite really stands out is with their video overlay function. By loading a 360 video inside of Pro Tools, Audio Ease adds an overlay on top of the Pro Tools video window, letting you pan each track in real time, which is really useful. For the features it offers, it is relatively affordable. The suite does not come with its own template, but they have a quick video guide to get you up and going fairly easily.

Are there any aspects that you’re still figuring out?
Delivery is still a bit up in the air. You may need to export in multiple formats to be able to upload to Facebook, YouTube, etc. I was glad to see that YouTube is supporting the ambisonic format for delivery, but I look forward to seeing workflows become more standardized across the board.

Any areas in which you see the need for further development, and/or where the tech just isn’t there yet?
I think the biggest limitation with VR is the lack of affordable and easy-to-use 3D audio capture devices. I would love to see a super-portable ambisonic rig that filmmakers can easily use in conjunction with shooting 360 video. Especially as media giants like YouTube are gravitating toward the ambisonic format for delivery, it would be great for them to be able to capture the actual space in the same format.

In January 2017, Røde announced the VideoMic Soundfield — an on-camera ambisonic, 360-degree surround sound microphone — though pricing and release dates have not yet been made public.

One new product I am really excited about is the Sennheiser Ambeo VR mic, which is around $1,650. That’s a bit pricey for the most casual user once you factor in a 4-track recorder, but for the professional user that already has a 788T, the Ambeo VR mic offers a nice turnkey solution. I like that the mic looks a little less fragile than some of the other options on the market. It has a built-in windscreen/cage similar to what you would see on a live handheld microphone. It also comes with a Rycote shockmount and cable to 4-XLR, which is nice.

Some leading companies have recently selected ambisonics as the standard spatial audio format — can you talk a bit about how you use ambisonics for VR?
Yeah, I think this is a great decision. I like the “future proof” nature of the ambisonic format. Even in traditional film mixing, I like having the option to export to stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 depending on the project. Until ambisonic becomes more standardized, I like that the Two Big Ears/FB 360 encoder allows you to export to the .tbe B-Format (FuMa or ambiX/YouTube) as well as quad-binaural.

I am a huge fan of the ambisonic format in general. The Pro Sound Effects NYC Ambisonics Library (and now Chicago and Tokyo as well) was my first experience using the format and I was blown away. In a traditional mixing environment it adds another level of depth to the backgrounds. I really look forward to being able to bring it to the VR format as well.


Andrew Emge is operations manager at Pro Sound Effects.

Pro Sound Effects intros sounds of Chicago library

Pro Sound Effects has released its newest library, Chicago Ambisonics, featuring over three hours of immersive urban ambiences. Chicago Ambisonics includes software that allows sound editors and mixers to point “virtual microphones” in any direction with a variety of polar patterns for greater control and creativity. This is the second Ambisonics library PSE has released following last year’s acclaimed NYC Ambisonics.

Produced and recorded in 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution, the Chicago Ambisonics sound effects library was captured throughout Chicago including recordings from Magnificent Mile, Chinatown, the L Train, West Loop, Kennedy Expressway, O’Hare International Airport, Lake View, & Wrigley Field.

The Ambisonics format allows for versatile use of the library, as the recordings can be decoded to mono, stereo, 5.1, 7.1 and beyond. And with leading companies in new immersive media technology recently selecting Ambisonics as the standard spatial audio format, Chicago Ambisonics is perfect for VR audio and 360 video applications as well.

The library features 35 immersive Ambisonic recordings with an average recording length of six minutes (14GB) — 24-bit/96kHz broadcast .wav files. Users can choose between download or flash drive delivery; SurroundZone2 software by TSL Products allows the editor full control over “virtual microphone” position and polar patterns. It’s available in 32-bit and 64-bit AAX, VST and AU; it’s a 100% royalty-free license with one-user and multi-user options; and there is a free sampler available for download, which includes two full ambiences plus software (778MB).

Now through August 31, Chicago Ambisonics costs $49 for a lifetime license. Free sampler available for immediate download.

Review: Pro Sound Effects NYC Ambisonics sound library

By Michael Hanish

I would bet that just about anyone reading these words is building and/or maintaining an audio library of some sort related to their work: sound effects, environments, music and backgrounds.

Clips that are used in one project often fit a specific need in another. For me, at least, audio clips seem to multiply of their own accord, like dust bunnies. There are loads of libraries and resources out there… some better quality than others. The clips that I have found the most useful and have re-used the most often were ones I have recorded myself, especially with environmental tracks.

Many libraries and/or collections I have looked at over the years have contained unique and interesting sounds, but somehow they didn’t have enough flexibility to always blend well in my mixes, or fit my immediate project needs without a lot of extra work. But that might all be changing, at least thanks to one library I have become familiar with recently.

nyc-ambisonics-artwork

Twice in the last few months I had the opportunity to work with libraries from Pro Sound Effects, and I have been pleased and inspired. Their NYC Ambisonics package ($119) has nearly seven hours — 53 ambiences, almost 43GB — of New York City ambiences, recorded at 24-bit/96kHz in both stereo and B-channel broadcast WAV formats. B-channel is a four-channel surround format that can be read through the included SurroundZone2 plug-in (more about this below) and remixed into stereo, mono or a wide range of surround formats (5.0, 5.1, 6.0, 6.1, 7.0, 7.1).

Tracks were produced and recorded by David Forshee and Laura Cunningham using a TSL Products SoundField microphone package. The offering is available for download after purchase, or can be shipped on a USB drive for an additional $40 plus shipping. A free downloadable (1.8GB) sampler with two full ambiences and the SurroundZone2 software is available on PSE’s website.

A PDF of the track list shows a wide range of environments from many locations around the greater New York City area, from light traffic and an elevated subway train in Astoria, Queens to a rain storm in a cemetery in Greenwood, Brooklyn to street sounds and pedestrian walla on the Upper West Side and the West Village in Manhattan, as well as sounds from the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn and the Staten Island Ferry.

Track lengths range from a bit under two minutes to over 12 minutes, with the average between nine and 10 minutes. All are full featured, clean and detailed enough to form the basis for anything from the creation of a whole environment to the sweetening of a scene with problematic audio.

Surround Zone

Surround Zone

The SoundField SurroundZone2 software plug-in (VST, AU and AAX versions available), which is supplied, is basically the control panel for all four capsule SoundField microphones. Somewhat similar in concept to a one-point stereo microphone, this configuration is designed to capture a three-dimensional audio scene from a well-defined (sonically) central point location, with none of the phase or time issues common when using an array or separate and spaced microphones.

The other huge bonus to using this technique and format for recording is that the that central point and channel balances can be redefined and/or remixed within reason in post to better match the visual characteristics and quality of a particular scene.

Input controls applied by the software include a high-pass filter (80Hz), gain adjustment (-30dB to +10dB) and toggles to maintain the correct (as-recorded) 3D spatial orientation of the channels (left-right and up-down), with bar graph style metering. The Output section mixes the file to any of the formats mentioned above — from mono and stereo to any of the surround formats up through 7.1 — with the routing dependent on the plug-in format (VST/AU vs. AAX) and host.

Controls include output level for each output pair or single channel (dependent on output format) with -30dB to +10dB adjustment, Mix Orientation and Width and Polar controls. Mix Orientation, in effect, allows one to reposition the microphone in post by adjusting rotation, tilt or zoom (virtually moving closer to or farther from the sound source) using a very easy to understand graphical display. Width and Polar controls affect the rear channel patterns (and thus the entire sound field width) by changing between cardioid, hyper-cardioid or figure eight patterns. In practice, it is easy to hear these parameters change the width, focus, and feeling of immersion in even a stereo mix output.

Summing Up
Using this library in a couple of small post projects and experiments was even better than I imagined or expected. Since New York is one of those iconic cityscapes, what viewers can expect, to a certain extent, is to personify a city — these sound environments can be used in many ways to jazz up, recreate or otherwise impersonate a city scene, especially when it’s undefined. And since these files are so clear and detailed and contain so much information, I was able to mix them in for suggestion as well as for more concrete documentation.

I mainly used Adobe’s Audition software — my current workflow of choice is Adobe Premier-based — for both scene mixes and to prepare or pre-mix files for insertion into the NLE. There were no bumps or unexpected gotchas in this workflow because of the wide compatibility and ease of use of the sounds and software. There is not a whole lot more to say about the use of the NYC Ambisonics library, and that is meant as high praise. It all sounds great and works well.

I also recommend that while you are at PSE’s site, either checking into the NYC Ambisonics sampler or buying the full library for the extremely reasonable price you investigate their other offerings. Pro Sound Effects has been developing interesting and useful collections and libraries and very flexible and very affordable ways of making them available for all levels of budget and use.

Michael Hanish is the owner of Free Lunch Media, a video/audio/multimedia production house based in Guilford Vermont.

Sound developments at the NAB Show

Spotlighting Pro Sound Effects library, Genelec 7.1.4 Array, Avid Master Joystick Module and Sennheiser AVX wireless mic

By Mel Lambert

With a core theme of ”Crave More,” which is intended to reflect the passion of our media and entertainment communities, and with products from 1,700 exhibitors this year – including over 200 first-time companies – there were plenty of new developments to see and hear at the NAB Show, which continues in Las Vegas until Thursday afternoon.

In addition to unveiling Master Library 2.0, which adds more that 30,000 new sound effects, online access, annual updates and new subscription pricing, Pro Sound Effects demonstrated a Continue reading