How Can a 360/VR Film be Immersive Without 360 Audio? (A Rant)

As someone who is always curious about what’s happening out in the 360 filmmaking world, I find myself often trawling through lists (damn, I love a good list) of the best 360 degree or VR films out there today. Whether they are original shorts, animation or documentaries, each film is hailed for being super immersive.

Except they’re not. Not to me anyway. Perhaps it’s just the audio nerd in me, but I struggle to be any more immersed in most 360 films than what I tend to find in a Vimeo binge, purely because no attention has been paid to the audio.

For the many, many (many!) 360 films I have gone through, I can safely say that the use of 360 audio is few and far between. No matter where you are facing, the sound will never change. Perhaps you might tell me to sit down and deal with it, nobody needs 3D audio in these videos. Do they?

Take The Invisible Man as an example. The film is great, don’t get me wrong, and it’s a fantastic little idea. But if you are going to boast immersive filmmaking, and have characters move around you, don’t half-arse the spatial sound! At one point characters are speaking across you and to characters behind you, yet everything is static audio wise. Since in a VR environment you have full control over where you look, it should surely be a big deal to make it clear where each character is in the sonic space. If I spend the first 30 seconds of the film looking around the room instead of at the characters, how am I going to know who’s said what when I decide to pay attention? If a character has moved without me seeing, I should still be able to localise where they have moved to in the room instead of swinging my head around trying to work out where they could be.

It’s great to see immersive storytelling on the rise, but for goodness sake please stick a 360 microphone in the room. Or if you insist on ADR for your short, spend 30 minutes getting used to Facebook 360 Audio tools or ask me to do it for you! If you ever plan to make 360 content give a thought to audio, because you’re going to feel like a right idiot when you realise how much better your work could have been with it…

Heres a list of ‘The Best’ 360 YouTube films according to Tom : https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-360-degree-videos-youtube,review-5329.html

Here’s just one 360 video with 3D Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLP-qyvNRSw

Rant over

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