Design Explorations

My name is George Vlad and I’m a sound designer, composer and all round audio guy. Over the past 5 years I’ve been involved in many aspects of video game audio production, from recording to editing and design, from writing music to engineering and restoration. The only aspect of game audio that I’m still learning the ropes of is implementation through middleware.

Parameters

A month ago I embarked on a sound design internship with Two Big Ears with the purpose of widening my implementation horizons and getting to know 3D audio and VR. Coming from a mostly creative environment the learning curve was pretty steep, but luckily my previous experience with Wwise through SoVGA helped me get up to speed with implementation in Wwise and Unity. Over the coming weeks I will be exploring the effect of various sound design parameters and their relationship with the perception of 3D audio and documenting my findings on this blog. I aim to explore a parameter every week.

Pitch

One of the first questions that come to mind when exploring virtual reality and binaural audio is how pitch relates to the perception of movement and spatialisation. We perceive sound as coming from moving sources based on subtle frequency shifts. Thus, a sound source that is approaching will sound ever so slightly higher in pitch, while a source that is moving away from us will produce a sound that is lower in pitch — also known as Doppler effect. The perception of elevation on the other hand is determined by the spectral content of a given sound. As a general rule, low frequency rich sounds will be perceived as coming from lower than high frequency rich sounds.

In the next week I plan on investigating how much of a role pitch plays in the perception of movement, while also testing its effects on the quality of spatialisation. For all my experiments I will be using the 3Dception demo Unity project as a testing ground. I will be attaching 3 different sound palettes to the main character which is a neat little flying robot. Each sound palette will be different from the others in both frequency content and general timbre. This will allow me to observe any changes in perception over the same in-game event by switching from one palette to another. I will record footage of my experiments so that it’s easier to compare the different settings.