Chapter 50: Spatial placement

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Excerpt from Chapter 50: Spatial placement, page 226:

...After you address all your audio basics (as described in Chapter 49: Basic sound design), you can use special spatializing panners to position sound effects and other motivated sounds in the sphere. Spatial panners work essentially the same way as surround sound panners do (identifying where the sound originates in the sphere). However, whereas surround data is fixed, spatial data moves around depending on where the viewer turns her head.  

In a flat video, if there’s a sound that doesn’t have a specific origin point, it seems to come from everywhere at once which isn’t very off-putting. But in VR, sounds that should be motivated but don’t have a specific source point can be distracting, or even disorienting: “I see the dog to my left, but it sounds like it’s right in front of me.”

There are a number of plug-ins for Pro Tools, Reaper, and other DAWs that add spatial panners to just about any audio-mixing software. Two Big Ears (owned by Facebook) is very popular (perhaps because it’s free), but there are other options such as Ambi Pan, Audio Ease, and O3A plug-ins from Blue Ripple Sound (for working with higher-order ambisonics). These products range in price, along with a corresponding range of options and levels of precision.

The best interfaces allow you to pin the sound to a coordinate in the latlong image, so you can easily affix the barking sound to the dog’s face... 

DAW (digital audio workstation): Software designed to process and edit audio tracks.

Higher-order ambisonics: Ambisonic audio with more than 4 channels. 


Latlong (latitudinal-longitudinal): Stretching a spherical image into a flat rectangle (similar to the way a world map represents the spherical Earth). Also called equirectangular.