Blue Ripple Sound at BBC R&D 'Sound: Now and Next'

Posted: 19 June 2015

We were invited to do a demo at the recent BBC R&D 'Sound: Now and Next' event.

We actually did two demos: one of our TOA ambisonic VST plugins for 3D audio production in the studio, and one of a new version of the Rapture3D game engine.

BBC R&D have held smaller events over recent years but this one was really impressive and definitely raises the bar for the future! The event was held in Broadcasting House in London and was attended by studio engineers, musicians, producers, researchers, technologists and other interested parties. There were great talks in the Radio Theatre, interesting research posters - and some cool demos.

TOA Studio Plugins

The room for this demo was in the depths of Old Broadcasting House. It wasn't huge, so we ended up running a nine minute demo eighteen times - it was reasonably polished by the end! The BBC provided a 9.1 speaker array and DTS (with whom we were sharing the room) wired it up with some high quality D/A. We only brought a laptop and a MADI adapter (oh, and a tape measure) so this made set-up really easy for us. Particular thanks to David and Andrew from BBC R&D, and Paul and Gordon from DTS.

We ran a four minute trailer for EarFilms' excellent production "To Sleep To Dream". The trailer was mixed in 3D using TOA by Chris Timpson from EarFilms. They kindly made the 412-track Reaper project available to us, so we were then able to dig into a few basic TOA features, including 3D panning controls and automation, and 3D reverb. The project actually uses many other TOA plugins, but there wasn't time for detail. Here's a photo of Richard pointing dynamically at a giant moth: (photograph: BBC R&D)

Giant Moth!

Some members of the audience expressed surprise that we were able to mix the whole project in high resolution 3D, run all the 3D effects, provide an on-screen visualiser, and render using a calibrated 9.1 speaker decoder, all live on a laptop. To them we say: welcome to Reaper and the TOA plugins!

New Rapture3D Game Engine

There was also a separate interactive binaural demo. This was of a new version of the Rapture3D game engine (not on this website yet). This has been rebuilt from the ground up to handle the requirements of next generation gaming and VR, and currently has bindings for C/C++ and a Unity plugin. Like previous versions of Rapture3D, this also handles a range of speaker layouts - but for this demo, we used binaural playback on headphones and a simple interactive Unity project.

Folk have seen this sort of thing before, so we focussed on a new feature. The existing version of Rapture3D has support for first order ambisonic material (including 3DOF rotation) but we've taken this further. In the new version, you can drop multichannel TOA "beds" directly into the game scene so they provide a "bubble" of detailed immersive audio which the player can walk in and out of, as well as turning around inside! We included four such bubbles in the demo scene, one of which was the complete EarFilm's trailer from the other room. And all rendered to glorious binaural using our "Amber" HRTF.

New Rapture3D in Unity

This project is still "in flux". The audio code works on Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS and we're looking into the best ways to package it for integration into games and VR applications. Please get in touch if you're interested!