Announcing The Spatial Workstation

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One of the things we are really proud of at Two Big Ears is the community that has built around us over the past two years. We’ve seen a range of exciting and amazing projects that have used our technology. We are constantly humbled by what is out there and work hard to deliver on feedback.

This community has been crucial to help us understand the many problems faced by sound designers and developers in VR and AR. There are a whole range of them that need to be addressed — from workflow all the way down to the technology.  We’ve seen many great VR games in the past two years and an increasing number of Cinematic VR and 360 video projects. Designing and developing audio for Cinematic VR and 360 videos has been difficult — non-standard workflows, lack of cross-platform rendering support, large asset file sizes and the lack of a complete pipeline to solve workflow issues.

For a long time now we have been developing a complete audio pipeline geared towards Cinematic VR experiences that is a mix of linear post-production techniques and game audio. 3Dception initially started off as spatial rendering engine, but has now grown into a platform that helps us achieve many things across platforms very quickly. Through most of this year, the Cinematic VR pipeline has been used successfully by a select number of companies across a range of great projects. Their feedback has been crucial — thank you. The pipeline has already been quickly adopted by many studios across the world.

Today, we proudly announce the 3Dception Spatial Workstation which is a pipeline that consists of a range of tools and technologies for designing, rendering, streaming and delivering great 3D audio for real-time cinematic experiences. As a sound designer, you can mix directly to a VR device in real-time from the comfort of your DAW and deliver assets that can be easily played back on the target device. As a developer, you don’t have to worry about audio DSP, assigning individual audio files, video synchronisation and cross-platform compatibility. Achieve great quality and save time — loads of time. You can find out more about the Spatial Workstation here. Our rendering engine supports all of our existing platforms and for the very first time — native web browser support (no plugins!).

This is only the beginning. We’ve got lots planned with many big announcements to make in the coming months.

Who said there’s anything stopping us from combining our geometry based technologies with #### and ####?

3Dception For FMOD

After much demand, we are pleased to announce that 3Dception is now available directly in FMOD Studio across all our supported platforms and game engines — including Unity and Unreal Engine. We have worked closely with the FMOD team to ensure that all of 3Dception’s functionality is seamlessly integrated within FMOD’s UI and workflow. Download FMOD Studio 1.07 to get started!

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Replace FMOD’s 3D panner with 3Dception to enable full binaural spatialisation and room modelling. If you are deploying your game, get in touch with us to get access to the runtime component.

Our aim with 3Dception has always been to make great 3D audio and environmental modelling technology available everywhere. Keep a ear for some major announcements in the next few weeks!

Battle for Avengers Tower 360

Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? We have all had secret/not-so-secret fantasies about donning super cool costumes, have futuristic AIs to command and zoom into explosive action scenes in super-slow motion blasting through everything and anything that stands in our way.

What if we could be Iron Man himself?

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Our friends at Framestore teamed up with 72AndSunny, Samsung and Marvel, to grant us exactly that. The Battle for Avengers Tower 360 VR experience is a super-immersive, incredible, short but memorable Cinematic VR experience that allows us to forget all things insipid and be a part of the Avengers as they defend the tower from Ultron and his minions. All in glorious binaural audio powered by 3Dception.

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3Dception was used to ensure that the audio was as great as the fantastic visuals themselves. Hear missiles whizzing past you, Thor’s hammer smashing through sub-Ultrons and the Hulk smashing through objects behind you. All in glorious Cinematic VR, running fluidly on the amazing Samsung Gear VR.

Yes, all of this, running on a smartphone! Creating such an immersive experience running on a phone has it’s challenges, and having realistic binaural audio added to it presents another level of complexity. Which is why 3Dception has been engineered to perform optimally on mobile devices, so that you can hear the action around you as realistically as you see it unfolding, to create a fully immersive, interactive, feature film-quality VR experience with true binaural sound.

If you are one of the lucky few to possess a Samsung Gear VR, head over to the Oculus store and download the Avengers experience to experience the fantasy yourself.

3Dception Unity 0.6 — What’s New?

We’ve just pushed out v0.6.0b of 3Dception Unity as we get closer to exiting beta. This update includes over 30 new features, fixes and improvements. Here’s a summary of what’s new:

More Sources!

The active source limit for non-commercial projects has been increased to 10! Yay!

Pricing

The Basic option has been dropped to £9/month from £14/month. You can also optionally pay upfront for a year of free upgrades, if monthly payments isn’t your thing.

Room Model With Variable Surfaces

Room models now include separate reflection properties per surface in the room (walls, ceiling, floor), making it possible to design dynamic environments with a lot more character. The UI gizmos have also been improved, so that the walls change in opacity depending on their reflection property. In one look you’d be able tell what your room sounds like. Cool! Here’s a GIF, just because:

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3Dception Wwise

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The past few months have flown past us. With a monthly release cycle we’ve been squashing bugs and making major improvements, both in terms of quality and performance. Thanks for your encouragement and support!

v0.5 of 3Dception Unity was released two weeks ago and included support for iOS and Android. It now works effortlessly on Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS and Android. We aren’t stopping here, there’s a truckload of improvements and features that are currently being implemented and we are working hard to bring 3Dception to all major development platforms.

Our next stop: Wwise. 3Dception for Wwise is currently in closed beta and works as a mixer plugin in Wwise 2014. We are excited to bring our efficient 3D audio and room modelling algorithms to an amazing authoring tool that is widely used across the industry. While we work towards a public release, you are welcome to try it out and put it through its paces. Sign up below and we’ll send you builds very soon.

Support for Wwise also means support for Unreal Engine 4. 3Dception Wwise includes full support for Unreal Engine 4 and you’ll receive our helper scripts and documentation to get you started.

More news and announcements coming soon!

Get 3Dception Wwise Beta:

3Dception and Performance #wins

We take performance of our software seriously. Two years ago, when we first started dabbling in the dark magic of binaural audio and augmented reality, we realised that the two biggest impediments to the popularity of binaural audio were its underlying use case and performance issues. Everybody is quite convinced that binaural audio is awesome. The use case has been lacking and somewhere along the lines of figuring that out, binaural audio turned “gimmicky” and wasn’t worth the processing power it had to be traded for.

Enter – Virtual Reality 2.0. Binaural audio is an important aspect of creating a fully immersive experience. A virtual reality environment with audio in traditional stereo doesn’t do justice either to the user or the creator of the virtual world. With computers getting faster everyday, and virtual reality happening on mobile devices, how important is the ‘age-old’ problem of performance vs benefits? We realised that the benefits were just too many to give binaural audio the slip yet again. So we started focusing on performance and managed to achieve some pretty good results.

The good part is, there are other players in this space, and it is the only way that binaural audio can achieve mainstream status in virtual reality and everything else. Competition breeds excellence, and we believe that the presence of good products in the spectrum is the only way to educate the consumer and the developer about the limitless possibilities of this medium. Now comes the important bit. How seriously do we take performance? We put some of the competing products and 3Dception to test on our rig – an iMac 3.1GHz Quad-core Intel i7 with 8GB RAM (we are hoping that more products are available for more platforms soon, so that we can put 3Dception through its paces).

One of our core features is room modelling with spatialised early reflections, which in our opinion, really shapes the character of the audio stream in question. Early reflections help us gain an idea of the general character and size of the room in which the audio source is present. However, as far as we can tell, not all the products in the market offer spatialised early reflections and hence we had to split our performance graphs.

So first, let’s see how 3Dception fares with it’s early reflections feature turned off against the products which do not have spatialised early reflections :

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3Dception: So Far

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response we’ve received since the announcement of 3Dception two weeks ago. Thank you. Both the download and usage count have crossed our expectations by great margins.  We’ve had loads of questions ranging from pricing (which we just released) to technology. We’ll talk more about our technology in the coming weeks and months through this blog.

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3Dception has been quite a journey for us. We began majority of the work about two years ago by developing a binaural solution for Android (yes, a difficult platform for audio). This led us to develop proprietary algorithms and methods that have allowed us to scale very quickly, while maintaining quality. Managing to run LOADS of binaural sources on an Android phone that is a few years old, while still keeping the battery usage in check was a great achievement for us.

Why a desktop first release then? We’ve got 3Dception working well on all our target platforms (including some we haven’t announced), but because of the current demand for binaural audio on desktop operating systems (i.e, Oculus and VR) we chose to target that first. If you’ve shipped software previously you know of the long bridge that must be crossed when moving from a ‘working product’ to a ‘shippable product’. That said, the mobile versions of 3Dception will be out very soon.

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Alpha — Beta

3Dception has been under constant scrutiny and testing since day one of development. We’ve had academics, researchers, visually impaired groups, audio professionals, designers and other non-audio people lend us their ears. We developed about eight different games and augmented experiences over the span of two years to test our algorithms. It was extremely useful and humbling to constantly put our work ‘out there’. None of these games and apps were made public (for obvious reasons), but they were the easiest way to engage people with our technology and find areas for improvement.

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Since the release two weeks ago, we’ve been working hard on finalising the pricing plans while squashing bugs and making improvements under the hood. The beta version will be released in two weeks and available for commercial projects.

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