SuperCharging Audio Storytelling: 3D Audio in Virtual Reality
- Dr Constantin Popp, research associate, University of York
- Professor Damian Murphy, academic supervisor, University of York
- Helene Vitting, industry partner and writer
SuperCharging Audio Storytelling is a postdoctoral research project funded by XR Stories.
Advancements in 3D audio for headset-based immersive technologies provide new avenues for sound designers to create narrative and audio-driven spaces in Virtual Reality (VR).
Untethered, self-contained VR devices like the Oculus Quest give the user the ability to physically move in the virtual realm and allows them to interact with objects easily. These spaces and objects become even more tangible through cutting edge 3D audio technology.
As the user enters the virtual spaces they stop being an observer of the experience and instead turn into an actor playing a role. This change in perception requires sound designers to adapt to the new situation too, and necessitates them finding new methodologies in creating spaces, sounds and music.
The SuperCharging Audio Storytelling project is based on practice-led research and a purpose-built story written by Helene Vitting. The project investigates the issues and solutions arising from the development of a new narrative, user-navigable audio-visual experience for the Oculus Quest 2 using Google Resonance Audio, FMOD and Unity.
The project examines and develops new methodologies of structuring avant-garde music interactively and spatially, assessing the creation of spaces through the application of audio stored in various spatial formats, as well as how audio storytelling can be implemented with these new means. The results of the research will be published in a paper and a VR experience called ‘Planet Xerilia’.
Helene offers a brief glimpse of the story in ‘Planet Xerilia’:
“In Planet Xerilia, you’re going on a tour of a deserted planet to learn about its past. Discover the story of how the scientists Sylas and Ziara worked to save their planet, and what developed after the apocalypse. Learn the truth of what took place as you explore the world. Will you discover what happened to the planet’s lost civilisation?”
“Planet Xerilia fuses its otherworldly environment with spatial audio to immerse you fully in a narrative-driven experience about loss, hope and persistence.”
You can keep up to date with Constantin’s work on his website.