3Dception in VR: Content update

Over the past couple of years, we have been astounded by the way users have jumped on board the VR wagon and crafted groundbreaking and thought-provoking content. At Two Big Ears, we have constantly made an effort to listen closely to developers and understand their real needs. We have piped their immensely useful feedback into our product development roadmap that has allowed us to stay ahead and consistently deliver reliable, efficient and a hyper-realistic immersive audio platform.

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With the launch of consumer VR this year, we wanted to focus on a select few developers who have gone the extra mile and created content which we, as a community, and as a audio technology company, can be proud of. Check these out as soon as you get your hands on a VR setup! All content you see below is powered by 3Dception.

Lucky’s Tale – Playful Corp

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Lucky’s Tale is a delightful platforming adventure game designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift. Whether you’re racing with Lucky through lush trees, dodging swamp pits or battling menacing bosses, you’ll feel like you’ve truly gone inside the world of a video game thanks to the magic of VR.

Read more on the Playful website or if you are one of the lucky few with a Rift already, get it on the Oculus Store.

 

The Gallery: Call of the Starseed – Cloudhead Games

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The Gallery is an episodic fantasy exploration game built from the ground up for virtual reality. Reach out and touch a forgotten world filled with bizarre characters, curious interactions and awe inspiring adventure. Go buy it on Steam, or read more about the game from the website.

 

Fated – Frima

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FATED: The Silent Oath is a first-person immersive adventure set in the mythical age of Vikings and built specifically for Virtual Reality. Written by Assassin’s Creed writer Jill Murray, FATED tells the story of the exile of a man and his family during Ragnarök – the end times.

Read more on the game website.

Dreadhalls – White Door Games

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Dreadhalls is a horror dungeon crawler for the Oculus Rift and Gear VR. You are trapped deep inside a massive dungeon. Explore it, survive it, and find a way to escape. Your only weapons will be stealth, your own courage, and a faint light.

TheVOID

THE VOID - RAPTURE GEAR

There’s so much to TheVoid(Ha!), that we won’t be doing justice on our blog feature to make an attempt and encapsulate everything about it. Head over to their website to see what we are talking about.

 

DOTA2: Secret Shop Demo – Valve

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A VR prototype, built in the world of the hugely successful DOTA 2, sets you down in the wooden shack of a mysterious shopkeeper. The shack is packed to the rafters with mysterious entities, magical creatures and intriguing looking nooks and crannies.

You can check out the Secret Shop demo from Steam.

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This is great, isn’t it? We cannot wait to see this amazing community grow and build incredulous content!

 

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.

Augmented World Expo 2015

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Two Big Ears is attending this year’s Augmented World Expo, happening between 8th and 10th of June at the heart of Silicon Valley. Varun Nair will be representing us across the Atlantic and be part of a panel discussing sound design, VR and the making of Stonemilker VR — Björk’s VR music video showcased at MoMA this year. If you happen to be around, make sure you attend this panel as we will be giving tips and tricks and give you a glimpse of what we have up our virtual sleeves.

The Augmented World Expo will have over 3000 attendees, 200 companies and over 200 speakers. If you happen to be around in or near San José CA, do drop in and say hello to us and check out one of the biggest expos giving you a glimpse of the amazing future.

Sound: Now And Next, BBC

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I will be doing a talk on audio for virtual reality and will be on a panel on immersive audio at BBC R&D’s Sound: Now And Next event in London tomorrow. The event is looking to be great, with a fantastic line-up of speakers, panels and technology demonstrations on the future of audio and content creation. Do say hello if you are around! The organisers will be uploading recordings of the talks at a later date.

 

Björk – Stonemilker VR

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This weekend will see the preview launch of Stonemilker, the haunting first track of Björk’s worldwide hit album Vulnicura, in 360 virtual reality and powered by 3Dception’s real-time 3D audio rendering. The video will be previewed at MoMA PS1 as well as Rough Trade stores in the US and UK. This is just weeks after our announcement of 3Dception’s use in Songlines, currently in exhibition at MoMA, New York.

In Björk’s  words:

i am also incredibly proud to offer a premier of stonemilker . with 360 3D sound mix for virtual reality headset.

this came about as a spontaneous fruit of mine and andrew huang’s collaboration . we had already done black lake , the “family” moving album cover and the black lake “book cover” trailer and then found us in iceland one day with nothing to do and a 360 camera lying about . we discussed its potential for intimacy and andrew then suggested we take it to the beach where the song was written . it immediately rang true for me as that location has a beautiful 360 panoramic view which matches the cyclical fugue like movement in the song . if the song has a shape it is sort of like a circle that just goes on forever .
i had recorded the strings with a clip on mike on each instrument . we have made a different mix where we have fanned this in an intimate circle around the listener .
so as you watch this in the virtual reality headset it will be as if you are on that beach and with the 30 players sitting in a circle tightly around you.

To present such a unique experience, we designed a completely re-imagined workflow that blends the worlds of linear sound design and interactive audio.  Björk’s vision of making the user a part of her world in Iceland, where the film was shot, compelled us to push the envelope of what is possible on mobile in VR. In collaboration with talented teams across continents, we worked towards building a new audiophile VR player which marries the world of real-time binaural audio with high definition visuals. All of this, just to bring you an experience you’ve never seen or heard before.

The video was directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, audio remixed for VR by Chris Pike and the mobile VR delivery platform was integrated and pieced together by Third Space Agency (3SA) and digital production specialists Rewind. Visitors to MoMA and Rough Trade will be shown the Stonemilker film on the new cross platform Freefly virtual reality headset developed by Proteus VR Labs.

Effect Of Distance Parameters

George Vlad is a sound design intern at Two Big Ears. This is the continuation of a series of experiments with sound design parameters and audio spatialization. Read the first post on ‘Pitch And Perception’ here.

Continuing my journey through VR audio enhanced by 3Dception, I investigate the effects of two other parameters: minimum distance and rolloff factor. As expected, the effects of these parameters, including pitch, work in tandem and therefore must be considered together to manipulate the audience or the player.

Minimum distance

According to the 3Dception manual, minimum distance is the distance after which the attenuation starts to take effect. At a first glance this would normally affect the perceived distance between the listener and the source object. As you can experience in video #1 below, this assumption is correct.

However, in addition to changing the perceived distance, there is an interesting side effect, especially when the source is visible to the player. At values lower than the default 1, the object appears to be smaller than it really is. As expected, for values larger than 1, the perceived size of the object increases. The rolloff curve seems to not only affect our perception of distance, but also the size of the object.

Rolloff factor

As per the 3Dception manual, the rolloff factor affects the exponential attenuation model. Values greater than 1 will result in a steeper curve while values smaller than 1 will result in a gentler curve. Continue…

Pitch And Perception

George Vlad is a sound design intern at Two Big Ears. Starting with this post he will be documenting his experiments with sound design parameters and audio spatialization on this blog.

Following up on the previous blog post I have been investigating the role of pitch in the perception of movement and spatialization. The first thing I need to mention is that this is my no means an exhaustive process. I would rather say that I’m scratching the surface and providing food for thought for whoever finds this as fascinating as I do.

I designed a set of 5 similar sounding files resembling an internal combustion engine hum. The frequency content in these files lies mostly below 1 kHz as you can see in the picture. The Wwise engine is programmed to pick one of the 5 files at random creating an indefinite loop. I first played the Intro scene with the original sound palette so as to examine its perception with regards to azimuth, elevation, movement and spatialization. My conclusions with regards to this particular file should be taken with a grain of salt when applied to other files. Pitch is only one of many parameters that can alter and skew the perception of movement, elevation, spatialization and so on.

A few words about the Wwise and 3Dception settings I used. The default doppler option in 3Dception was disabled to avoid pitch changes. 3Dception’s room modeling was enabled with the default settings and the attenuation mode was set to 3Dception’s default as well. You will notice an audible gap in the video at certain points. This seems to be caused by the Wwise engine that needs to catch up with the fact that the files are shorter once they are pitched up. I then proceeded to raising the pitch on the sound palette by 2 semitone increments. This helped me observe the changes in perception and enabled me write the following notes.

Azimuth

Although the unpitched sound is diffuse, there’s no doubt that initially it is coming from the left side. Once the Robot object reaches the camera and goes off screen again it is similarly easy to pinpoint it as coming from the right side. It is safe to say that increasing pitch does not affect the azimuth perception by a great deal.

Continue…

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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Continue…