First of all I was honored to be a contributor at the The Global Composition 2018.
Being able to be part of this discourse and being able to talk to all my field recording "heroes" like Walter Tilgner and Hildegard von Westerkamp, etc. was a incredible experience!
When Was approached to do a 3D-Audio-Earpiece for the Spacial Wave System, I had to consider some basic concepts:
- Active listener: He decides in what he wants to focus, he will choose his positioning inside the listening area (dome or virtual). Therefore linear experiences can only be guiding the listener to a certain degree. A exception to this observation would be to intensionally trigger our instinctive listening of course. Nonlinear 3D audio experiences
are way more complex. VR-Games can be story driven or follow the concept of an open world experiences, where the player is put into a huge and complex sandbox environment where he can choose whatever he wants do to.
- Interaction possible: Sensors (Kinect) and implementation needed.
- Immersion: Not only to be surrounded by sounds. Its more. The listener is put (in a physical sense) in a virtual 3D space (artificial/synthesized sound field) with virtual sound sources in any possible positions on the X, Y and Z plane. These objects can be moved around or placed as steady sources. The can have the acoustic properties of a single pin-point source or a more broader wave front. Stereo recordings can be connected and placed into the sound field.
- Immersive audio can be achieved by the real-time rendering of a virtual sound field to abinaural output, experienced by the listener through headphones. This allows the use of the well-know inter-aural time and level differences, as well as spectral filtering, to be applied to the sound field in a way that fools our brain into hearing sounds as if they were coming from a particular location. At the moments this can only be achieved using standard HRTF’s that will work with most peoples head-, shoulder- and ear forms. It is already known that 10-30 % of the users wont experience a good localization or have problems with In Head Localization (IHL= The issue of sounds being perceived between one’s ears).
- Distance attenuation (Min-max Distance and Att Curve), Directivity (Omnidirectional vs. Directional).
- Size and Perspective: Regarding pitch: Is high-pitch always small, low-pitch always big? Regarding distance: Is a loud signal with lots of high-frequency energy always close and muffled, quieter sounds always far away?
- Reverberation, absorption by surface materials as well as obstruction, occlusion and refraction of sound can be implemented in some systems.
- When Dialogue/Voice is up upon the listener: VOG effect. The Voice becomes authority, is perceived more powerful and somehow godlike.
- When something passes relatively fast over our heads or in general any close pass-by, we will perceive it pretty intensive and usually back off a bit. This reaction is driven by instincts.
- Lo-Fi vs. Hi-Fi Soundscape: Masking effect and localization of single sound entities in their respective frequency domains.
- Ego-Perspective vs. third person vs. cinema perspective vs. top-down perspective vs. 3D-space. This also relates to the listening perspective
- Naturalism vs. Hyperrealism: A naturalistic sound design approach tries to sound as realistic as possible. Most important aspect here is that the listener has a realistic hearing experience. Hyper realism on the other side will change or enhance certain sounds for narrative reasons, to add drama or the enhance the listeners feedback from
what he sees on screen.
- Keynote-Sound, Signal-Sound, Sound-Mark.
- Find the most important sound/major acoustic element of the composition/soundscape and ask: Whats its dramaturgical function? How does the sound fulfill that function? Acoustic properties, spacial properties? Position and movement?
After developing several concepts, I knew I wanted to do a piece dealing with the aural experiences of Microworlds vs. Macroworlds. The Frauenhofer SpacialSound Wave System would be the perfect tool to try and explore the world or a topic from an odd perspective:
You can be a mouse or listen top down from a birds perspective. Through the flexible placement and usage of recording perspectives, I was able to detach real sounds from their „real meanings". I decided to make artful use of the proximity effect and other psychoacoustic phenomena to create an artificial, reconstructed soundscape that might sound familiar, but would be a auditory experience in its own right. This might challenge our ordinary way of listening and expectation on what kind of listener we are in this world.
This is how I came up with "An Ant life", a journey of re-incarnation where we have the chance to experience the word from the perspective of an ant.
One of my first ever insect recordings. I recorded it last year at my recording trip to the Müritz area. This ant-hive recording started my curiosity for insect recordings, and I had to use it fro this project.
Next on my list was a termite hive. I Used a MS-Shotgun for the outer ambience, a Aquarian H2O as contact mic and a small omni lav on one entrance to catch all those clicky/smacking noises made by the termites movement sounds.
I experimented with bee-hive recordings. My goal was to transport a immersive experience with some fly-by performances at the entrance. I learned that bee-humming-sounds sound more relaxed or aggressive, depending on the time of day, season and weather. When its sunny in late spring, there is a abundance of food and therefore they are pretty chilled in the mornings or afternoons, when temperature is stable.
On another occasion I went to bigger bee-keeping facilities and tried to dig my lav-mics deep into full-populated bee-hives to get a deep and rich bee-humming sound.
I needed to look for relatively quiet wild meadows. This is quite tricky here in Germany. I found a nice spot in the Hunsrück/Soonwald area. There, I could record lots of grasshoppers, flies, wood cricket choruses, bees, bumblebees, etc.
Furthermore I did some experimentation with single cricket and close up recordings (in contrast to to big choruses).