Life In 360°: Behind the Ambisonic Sound

Last year, Pollen Music Group and Google Spotlight Stories teamed up to create a virtual reality (VR) project called Pearl. Pearl was the first VR or 360-degree video to receive an Oscar nomination, and of the first to receive an Emmy award. Much praise was given to the music, particularly a song called No Wrong Way Home which featured prominently through the short. Pollen Music Group have now released a behind-the-scenes video detailing the process behind the immersive audio used in Pearl.

The feature song, No Wrong Way Home is subtly transformed through the short, beginning by being sung by the father, where it is performed by Kelley Stoltz before it is later changed and sung by the daughter through a performance by Nicki Bluhm. The song was produced by Scot Stafford and JJ Wiesler.

“In Pearl, there’s a continuous and seamless exchange between on- and off-screen sources of the song. Sometimes the actors perform it, sometimes they hear it on the radio, and sometimes we viewers just hear it in our heads, like a soundtrack.” says Stafford.

In the more technical areas, Wiesler speaks of the challenges of 3D audio: “Object audio, ambisonic audio and headlocked stereo audio were all used simultaneously. Given the high level of technical challenges, our main goal was to make the result feel very smooth and organic. We’ve had some viewers say, ‘I didn’t even notice the sound,’ and that in a way is the highest compliment.”

Pollen Music Group is a musical collective that consists of several songwriters, composers, producers and other musical professionals who together aim to make an impact on sound design in advertising, TV, film, videogames and VR. The group has since done other work in VR, working on projects such as Asteroids! From Baobab Studios.

The behind the scenes video is available to view below, as is the original Pearl 360-degree short film.

Keep an eye on VRFocus for more Life in 360°.