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BBC R&D tests 3D sound

BBC R&D's audio team (Manchester, UK) is looking at potential next generation audio formats. It already outputs mono, stereo and 5.1 surround sound, but the organisation is keen to investigate 3D sound.

The BBC is studying advantages of Ambisonics sound. For example, they proceeded to a recording inside the Manchester Cathedral with a combination of Ambisonics soundfield microphones and close microphones. This helped the team to understand the challenges of integrating 3D audio capture and mixing into real-world live production environment.

SoundfieldMicElbow 250px

BBC and Ambisonics in the AES library

This AES paper considers Ambisonics from a broadcaster's point of view: to identify barriers preventing its adoption within the broadcast industry and explore the potential advantages were it to be adopted. This paper considers Ambisonics as a potential production and broadcast technology and attempts to assess the impact that the adoption of Ambisonics might have on both production workflows and the audience experience.

This is done using two case studies: a large-scale music production of "The Last Night of the Proms" and a smaller scale radio drama production of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". These examples are then used for two subjective listening tests: the first to assess the benefit of representing height allowed by Ambisonics and the second to compare the audience's enjoyment of first order Ambisonics to stereo and 5.0 mixes.

Microsoft Kinect helps sound engineers

The BBC developed its own sound panning software including gesture-based interface using a Microsoft Kinect as input device. With that small gesture detecting camer, the team can pick up and move sounds around the 3D scene inside the auditorium in real time using arm and hands movements.

 

More info

Read the Wired paper for more info (including a video interview) or read the BBC blog about the Manchester cathedral recording.