So recently I pitched an idea that I have been toying with for some time, involving binaural recorded sound with a live performance musical aspect. Here’s how it went down.
Having been truly enamoured at the prospect of enveloping the listener in immersive sound, binaural recording techniques became a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. I’m a huge fan of creative recording, and after having read Sylvia Massy’s excellent book, “Recording Unhinged”, I decided to delve deeper into the dark arts of binaural recording.
// How’d you go?
I began with a brief introduction to binaural sound, and what it means in terms of psychoacoustics. Although binaural sound has been around since 1881 (see this article on its history), it has made a resurgence in recent times with the advent of immersive visual experiences. I decided to throw my own prediction out there that binaural technology will continue well into the future, due to it being more affordable, and accessible for anyone. Not everyone has the money, nor the space, for a Dolby Atmos home set up!
After calming myself of my enthusiasm for psychoacoustic meandering, I delved into recent content that displayed the use of binaural sound.
Watch the video by The Verge below for an example of binaural sound in action.
Unfortunately it was a pointless exercise including this video in the pitch, for anything other than making it look more aesthetic pleasing, and content heavy. The main reason for this is that binaural sound is not intended for broadcast over loudspeakers. Although the content will still play adequately, the localization of events is much harder to pinpoint due to sound crossing over from each speaker and hitting both ears at different times.
// The idea
After seeing a performance from a local busker on a busy Brisbane city street, it struck me that by watching the video via headphones, half of the experience was lost on the audience. The acoustics of the environment play a huge part in shaping the performer’s sound, and this was lost through a mono phone recording.
So after much research into building a binaural dummy head, I decided on the premise of capturing a musicians performance in an acoustically interesting environment, and immersing the viewer in the 3D space using binaural recording.
// What went well?
As this is a topic that I am extremely interested, it made it a lot easier to pitch the idea with an air of childlike enthusiasm! No one wants to see a monotone pitch that’s delivered drier than a Martini. At one point I was tempted to indulge in the use of props by pulling out a purchased dummy head, affectionately nicknamed “Mike”, but didn’t wish to rely on a gimmick to keep people engaged.
Once the pitch was over I was fairly pleased to see a whole array of hands in the air to ask questions, give advice, and offer some constructive criticism. This was a good sign that I had piqued the audience’s curiosity.
// What could improve?
The main factor that affected my pitch was time… The reason for this being that there were a number of pitches occurring before mine, and as a result I was left with minimal airtime with which to delve deeper into my own idea. Although what this did for me in hindsight, was give me the chance to fully apply myself to delivering somewhat of an elevator pitch. Short, sharp, and succinct.
The knock on effect that this had, was that I had lost of a fair amount of clarity in regards to the actual outcome of the project.
I think it would have been a great deal smoother if I had managed to spend less time talking about the application, and more time discussing the actual aim of the project in spite of it still being in its formative stages.
Overall, I was fairly pleased with the response that I received, although I find that there is always room for improvement in the arena of public speaking. In the creative industries it can be a dog eat dog world, with potential ideas being left by the wayside due to a poorly executed pitch. If you want to get potential clients on board with your projects, practice your pitching!
Coming up next, the binaural project plan…