As 360 cameras get more advanced, less expensive and more numerous, hopefully these technical advances will give 360 content creators a bit more room to think about another core component to a successful 360 story: spatial audio.
This year at NAB, LA-based Hear360 brought a 3D printed working prototype of its 8ball omni-binaural microphone for use in cinematic VR productions to produce immersive sound.
Although many microphones for VR and 360 applications are moving toward ambisonic audio rather than binaural solutions, Hear360 claims the 8ball can produce an aural experience nearly indistinguishable from reality by pairing binaural recording with head tracking.
“Ambisonics create a spherical synthesis of spatial audio and can manipulate sound from capture,” said CTO and Cofounder Greg Morgenstein. “But the idea behind the 8ball is to be able to point and shoot without any manipulation.”
Meaning, it isn’t synthesized and requires next to no additional manipulation. In fact, users will even be able to live stream spatial audio with the 8ball.
“Ambisonic is great, it has its place,” Morgenstein said. “But it’s like playing an orchestra on a keyboard whereas this is the real orchestra.”
Key features of the 8ball spatial microphone
The 8ball spatial microphone features eight capsules organized to simulate the design, alignment and results of four pairs of ears.
The patent-pending microphone can easily be clamped around a tripod below a 360 camera to avoid being seen in the shot. It also works with any 8-channel field recorder and integrates with post-production processes via FMod, Wwise or Unity plugin.
To experience samples of audio captured by the 8ball, watch the video above featuring baseball’s Reggie Jackson while wearing headphones using Firefox or Google Chrome.
More samples, including samples from a Major Lazer concert, are also available on Hear360’s website.
Other spatial audio solutions from Hear360
Hear360 is also working on four other microphones, including three ambisonic microphones, some of which are in alpha and others in beta, and a six-capsule microphone Morgenstein tentatively calls the Six Pack that is neither binaural or ambisonic. However, these are all in the early stages, whereas users are already welcome to sign up for beta access to the 8ball spatial microphone.
Morgenstein estimates the 8ball will cost around $2,000, including the software suite. Sign up on Hear360’s website for a chance to join its private beta list and to learn more about the 8ball.