Audio Considerations

Types of sound

Audio can be used in many ways within immersive design, this could be through the use of music, dialogue, ambience, environmental sounds, internalised sounds and interactive feedback. Some immersive design experiences or games may use all these types, but it is possible to limit which forms of sounds are used depending on the situation. For example, an atmospheric, scarier experience may just utilise ambient sounds to create lots of tension whereas something with lots of action may use all of the mentioned types. 

Forms of audio 

Immersive design will most likely utilise a type of audio called ‘spatial audio’ this ‘involves the manipulation of audio signals so they mimic acoustic behavior in the real world. An accurate sonic representation of a virtual world is a very powerful way to create a compelling and immersive experience’ (Thakur, n.d.) which is fundamental within immersive design. The sounds surround the user and can be positioned specifically within the space. Within VR, the form of spacial audio which will most often be used would be binaural this is where ‘a different audio signal is fed to each ear in order to create the perception of a three-dimensional sound field’ (Crute, 2019) this is due to the fact that someone experiencing VR will most likely be doing so through a headset and headphones which use binaural audio. I plan on using binaural audio within my piece, as I feel that it is one of the most immersive aspects to VR. 

Immersing the user

One way that audio can completely immerse the user would be that it is possible that audio can trigger a physical response in people. Audio can make someone feel intense emotions which will have a big impact on their experience. For example, this could be done through altering things such as pitch and dissonance which could then release stress hormones and alter the listeners heart rate, this would work well within a horror immersive design experience. 

Audio use within my piece

For my production piece, I will need to ensure the audio matches well with the overall spooky aesthetic of my piece. I plan on achieving this through just having sound effects and environmental sounds in my piece. As I would mostly like to focus on creating lots of atmosphere within my production piece, I don’t plan on including any dialogue, internalised sound or any music. I personally feel that this will be much more realistic and therefore will help to immerse the user deeper into the experience. There may even be some parts to my production piece which are silent, to again add to the tension in my piece. I will, however make sure I include some sounds to alert the user to events that are happening or objects that may require interaction to help with the navigation aspects. I will most likely be sourcing the audio online on audio libraries and I will then go onto editing them into binaural audio through the DearVR application on Adobe Audition.  

References:

Thakur, A (n.d.) Spatial audio for cinematic VR and 360 videos. Available online: https://creator.oculus.com/learn/spatial-audio/ [Accessed 17/11/21].

Crute, A (2019) Recording and mixing audio for virtual reality. Available online: https://musictech.com/features/trends/vr-recording-and-mixing/ [17/11/21].

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