Experience binaural sound in 360° with the group “Fanfaraï”

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Xavier Gibert the director of Radio France Internationale worked in collaboration with Sennheiser and Noisemakers to present “Wida Nzor Nabra” a song from the group Fanfaraï in 360° and ambisonic sound. You are invited to share this audio and visual experience. Xavier Gibert will then explain how blending 360° videos and binaural sound can increase the immersive feeling.

Xavier, please introduce yourself?

I’m Xavier Gibert the director of Radio France Internationale (RFI) Labo. RFI is part of the group France Médias Monde that brings together RFI (Radio France Internationale), MCD (Monte Carlo Doualiya) and the television channels of France 24. Our team experiments new audiovisual technologies in order to understand how they can be used to make programs for France Médias Mondes.

Why did you choose to create this 360° video project?

New technical methods such as binaural sound, new Web interfaces and 360 videos,which require a specific workflow, will allow the media to progress. Having small financial ressources, RFI wished to combine these technical difficulties into one project, the « Fanfaraï » project.

How does ambisonic sound accommodate with a 360° video?

Binaural sound allows 360° videos to become more immersif. Often the importance of binaural sound becomes dominating in the immersion when 360° videos are watched on a flat screen and not in a virtual reality headset. The goal is to create an audio scene that is coherent with the video and synchronous with its rotation movements.
« Binaural sound can make your 360-degree videos more immersive. »

What are the major stages?

The ambisonic format consists in representing the sound space in coordinates. The ambisonic of order 1 is “coded” on 4 tracks named WXYZ. The track W contains the directional component, the energy, whereas tracks XYZ contain the components of width, depth and height. The microphone AMBEO from Sennheiser is placed under Omni and allows us to capture the sound space in ambisonic format directly and match the listening point and the view point.
However, in this case a single microphone is not sufficient. Twenty two microphones are used to register the pitch of the voices and instruments. These microphones were placed in strategic locations so that the main listening point in the ambisonic area would match the visual one. The Noisemaker’s tools allow punctual sound sources in ambisonic format to be placed into space.
Once the blending is finished, the 4 tracks will be placed in the 360° image and the YouTube player will allow auditors to hear binaural sound in their headsets. When the viewer turns his head the sound follows the image’s movements and gives the ear “the impression” of moving musicians. If we are facing an instrument and we turn our head to the left we will hear that instrument playing on our right.
« The sound follows the image’s movements and gives the ear “the impression” of moving musicians. »
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