The title picture is supposed to represent ‘immersive sound’!
The reason? Because I am a Very Lucky Girl, I have been given an early wedding anniversary present of this:
Which means my followers are now going to get ‘treated’ to a series of ramblings on binaural recording and how we could use it in narratives that flick between character perspectives! If you don’t already know about it, binaural is a recording method that reproduces human hearing to a degree that can feel positively trippy if you’re not used to it! It uses a dummy head with mics in the ear canals.
People who collaborate with me will be able to tell you just how much this is my thing!! I simply love to nip in and out of the heads of characters to see how things feel inside there.
There are spoilers in here, so if you haven’t listened yet but plan to, maybe give it a miss!
I hope to do this kind of thing more, using my new binaural mics.
I also think there might even be a larger purpose possible, that sound designers could even assist with developing empathetic responses to unfamiliar perspectives, to people who have different lives to our own.
Binaural recording isn’t new tech, but I understand, from people who know about these things, that it’s now getting a lot more attention and investment because of increased headphone use with the podcasting explosion and, in particular, VR gaming.
The good thing is that it doesn’t require fancy playback systems, just a pair of headphones – and if you listen on normal speakers, while you don’t get that immersive sound so much, it just sounds like a normal recording so you can still listen.
There are specific, interesting reasons why binaural feels so real, raw and immersive when compared with a normal mic pair. My fellow student at UH, Adam Wood, did some cool research last year and might chime in, but it’s stuff like sound travelling round the head and arriving later at the other ear in a specific pattern. Or that high frequency noises coming from the side straight into the ear canal register disproportionately loudly. I feel that a basic knowledge of this is probably useful to a sound designer so, despite not being a sound engineer, I’m going to do a bit of reading.
At the Goldsmith’s College audio drama festival, the guy leading the fascinating production and tech panel asserted that one limitation of binaural audio drama is that once you’re binaural you have to stay binaural. I think I disagree!!
So over the next week or so I’m going to explore interesting ways that flicking between recording techniques, from binaural to traditional stereo and back again, could be an amazing form of story telling… if we are telling the right story!