How film scores can benefit from binaural recordings, featuring composer – Nathan Matthew David
The Benefits of Scoring Film in Binaural Audio – Nathan Matthew David
For the last 20+ years, movie houses and film production companies have been ramping up their 3D audio experiences by introducing a more intricate recording setup than just using surround sound speaker technology into the final mix. The difference between surround sound mixed film audio and 3D/binaural film audio can be heard spatially. Film scores in surround sound with 5.1 and 7.1 systems are covering just some of the listeners’ space, while 3D audio film scores give movie-goers an immersive experience, as if they are right there “in the movie” – hearing things not only to the right and left, but also in front and behind – providing a 360-degree experience. When sound engineers actually spend time recording right there on set in binaural to capture the true essence of standing in front of a waterfall, or next to it, or behind it – they capture the roaring presence of the waterfall sounds from a perspective that you just really can’t recreate without being there, in a 3D audio space that is authentic, and truly immersive. These binaural sounds, or 3D audio recordings, fit exactly to the frames of the film.
What is binaural or 3D audio recording? When you listen to a binaural, or “3D audio” recording, your brain processes the differences in each ear. You hear it from the perspective of the same way it would sound in the real world around you, with natural and accurate directional cues. For example, if you are standing in the rain, instead of just hearing the rain in a stereo format, or directionally – just left and right, you’ll hear the rain as if you were actually standing in the rain – in a 3D experience. Meaning, you’ll hear the rain not only to the left and right of you, but also in front of and behind you. You’ll also hear the sounds of the raindrops hitting your shoulders as well.
Opening up the sound stage to a real 360-degree experience would not only heighten the emotion but immerse the listener into the 3D space with psychoacoustics, just as if they were sitting in the middle of a string quartet with the recording artists, or standing in the rain. Small nuances of acoustic instruments can be recorded from a completely different perspective, say, from the actual guitar, piano player or drummer. Adding this 3D element to the mix is rare, but completely possible by introducing binaural recordings into the final mix.
To explain this example some more, here is a perfect binaural recording of an acoustic Filipino tribal instrument, called a Kulintang, inside of Nathan Matthew David’s studio from the performer’s perspective. Nathan is a composer for film and television, and in honor of Filipinx-American history month, he wanted to feature acoustic sounds in his production that are native to his culture. Nathan recorded his performance with the first wireless, binaural recording system – the Hooke Verse – to achieve what can be described as an otherworldly sonic performance, and a truly immersive sound experience.
Nathan Matthew David says in the description of his immersive video recorded with the Hooke Verse:
“October is Filipinx-American history month. As we close it, I wanted to share a snippet from a new electro-acoustic project I’ve been working on combining Filipino instruments with modular synthesis called ‘Pandama’ (Tagalog for ‘senses’). In this clip, each Kulintang gong is connected to the modular system via contact mics. The sounds are both processed in the system and they also trigger other sounds and events. The clip is one take and all sounds are being triggered by the Kulintang except for the Therevox synth, which I play. The voice sample in this clip is from Larry Itliong, a crucial figure in the history of Filipinx-Americans.”
To achieve the 3D audio experience, please put your headphones on to listen to the sound of this video. You will be transported into Nathan Matthew David’s studio as he plays the Kulintang, hearing it as if you were playing it yourself.