Spatial audio, also known as 3D audio, is the key behind the resurrection of Virtual Reality Products, together with better 3d graphics. In the past, it was much harder to trick the brains of consumers, whether they were video game players or viewers of a 3D Movie. But now, spatial audio creates truly immersive experiences.
The human brain understands a sound source to be artificial if many sounds come from a single point, but the technology behind 3D Audio makes it appear to come from different points.
Some interesting techniques for this goal include using Binaural or Ambisonic Recordings. Also, keen use of diegetic and non-Diegetic sounds can heavily impact the final result. It’s important to beware of all these possibilities.
The perception of the viewer is the final goal, and it’s important to create different layers of sound that make it clear what are the sounds of the story itself, and the background effects that aren’t part of that world. This deep work within the universe of the story creates a sense of audio verisimilitude, which can be tricky, but once achieved, can make a big difference.
Different Kinds of Virtual Reality
Even the term storytelling seems to have morphed into a myriad of different meanings in 2023. In the past, the term would be more associated with the passive listening of a book, a story being read, or the experience of a movie audience.
Storytelling has evolved into much more active forms of virtual immersion. Let’s consider, for example, FPS and Football Esports.
There’s a lot that can be explored in those universes in terms of sound effects. The use of appropriate escalation of volume as the character moves across a map or a football pitch, to provide a sense of 4 dimensions, certainly allows a lot of space for sound engineers to be creative.
Computational power has evolved massively in the last decades, to a point that every user in a multiplayer game will be experiencing a different chapter of the same game.
In the first incarnations of video games, virtual reality was reduced to a few possibilities at each level of difficulty and map, with games only crossing the 1GB size around the beginning of the 21st century.
VR and Metaverse: SFX
The metaverse, much like AI, is being discussed to exhaustion, but we’re probably yet to see the peak of their development.
We already had several examples of SFX being used in the form of metaverse concerts, which opened a whole new avenue of work for music artists. Also, the creation of SFX and special tracks for Esports and the metaverse are new ways of work for artists that can provide them income and an immersive and memorable experience to fans of Esports and other forms of Metaverse entertainment.
The skins had already been a source of income to artists, and now metaverse concerts and audio creation to make online VR events and maps ever more interesting are new opportunities for these professionals.
Virtual Reality can be used across several different products and projects like Esports, marketplaces, music events and many others. Storytelling has evolved massively and it’s no longer a passive experience like it once was. Audio Engineers and artists now have the task to enhance the experience of different consumers of VR Products.
Among the most interesting techniques to achieve this, we have Binaural or Ambisonic Recordings, as well as clever use of diegetic and non-Diegetic sounds. A well-made use of simple effects like footsteps and weather sounds like rain, wind and hail can also be game-changers when using SFX to enhance storytelling.
Some movies are remembered for their incredible SFX, like Harry Potter and Star Wars. If we have orchestras making special performances of these soundtracks to this day, then we can only imagine the effect of keen, tech enhanced SFX of the upcoming years on pop culture.
SFX certainly is one of the most important aspects of different products of entertainment, and its evolution is one of the biggest marks of the evolution of this industry during the 21st century.