AUDIO IN A 360 WORLD

Robert Margouleff
Dec 4, 2017 · 5 min read

(Part 3 of 5)

by Robert Margouleff

Pedal to the Metal : A Revolution — Moore’s Law — Timeline of VR

Everything is changing, but how do these fast-paced technological developments affect our creativity? For better or worse? In my opinion, it’s for the better. We are still doing the same thing, that is, first and foremost storytelling, and then managing, manipulating and storing the content.

As Marshall McLuhan the father of communications once said, “The medium is the message”. We should remember that content is STILL KING! Without the creative brain, we would have nothing, just a strong hissing noise and a glowing blank screen.

A Different Approach

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality are new art forms. The medium requires a different approach to storytelling and the way we create our art.

For example, how does a director tell his audience where to look if the camera sees everything in 360 degrees? The first thing for him to do is tell the cameraman where to hide, (you can see me in the shot holding the camera on the bottom), since everybody is in the shot. Now what about the audio?

Experimental POV 360 camera mount.

Looking back over my 40-year career, I reflect on all the changes that have happened and there is one thing I know for certain. Change in our profession never stops!

Audio technologies began with the daguerreotype in 1837 and the invention of the cylinder-recording device in 1877. Audio, film, the computer, and the internet are not “new”. The technology from its inception ‘till now is over one hundred years old and our still evolving technologies are moving forward in waves, ever faster and faster. The technology has gotten bigger and smaller at the same time. The laptop and portable gear has changed the production landscape forever. It has become cheaper and more accessible to the creatives and the mass market. There are no more interlocutors, the creators talk directly to their audiences.

The History of VR

Moore’s law states “simply that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years”. This concept is in play with Immersive Audio and VR/AR. The technology is going faster and faster — exponentially faster. The art and craft of film, TV, and music have continued to evolve. Just look at the timeline:

It took over 50 years to get from the cylinder recorder in 1877 to the LP (long play) format, developed by Columbia Records and marketed in June 1948.

Another 50 years to get to the CD in 1982. But just 10 more years to the .mp3 in 1993, which I believe was the beginning of the end of the record business as we know it.

Now it speeds up even more: the DVD with 5.1 audio encoded in 1992 with Dolby Digital Surround (DDS), Digital Theatre Systems (DTS) in 1993 with the 5.1 release of Jurassic Park, and then 7.1 in 1993 with Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS). The iPod in 2001, Blu-ray™ in 2006, 7.1, 3D for the home, streaming 1080p picture with 5.1/7.1 discrete audio and the Tablet, iPad, and 8K resolution. And now, totally immersive Streaming Audio/Video on Demand (SVOD).

Along the way, personal computers and other desktop technology led to an explosion of home studios. The laptop has become our new folk instrument just as the guitar, Rhodes Piano, and Clavinet were in the 70’s. The home studio built around PC or Mac is really the beginning of the democratization of content creation, and has changed our world forever. Everyone is allowed off the bleachers and onto the playing field. It sure is democratic. Now there are no more gatekeepers. As a matter of fact, there are no more gates to keep!

L to R foreground: Julian Shah Tayler, Robert Margouleff, & Aaron Zepeda @ Casa Blanca Studio.

The last 10 years alone have proven without a doubt that we’re in the midst of a genuine revolution in music, film, and television. We are now officially in the process of leaving the physical media behind entirely.

This revolution is not just the media business, but in a more profound way, our entire culture has been in transition on many levels; primarily, in how the role of technology continues to affect our lives — socially, personally, and especially in our media.

Not only was the way we listen to music revolutionized by the creation and launch of devices such as the iPod in October of 2001 (and iTunes as well in 2003), but technology continued to fundamentally reinvent the very nature of personal, business, and social communication in our culture. This happened via what’s known as “new media,” such as e-mail, Peer-2-Peer, blogs, Websites, social media such as MySpace (2003), Facebook (2003), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), Wikipedia (2001), Netflix, Hulu, text messaging, viral and guerilla marketing. And now we have all things ‘indie’ and DIY. While many of these phenomena are still trying to figure out ways to monetize, what they all have in common is that they have been game-changers. They’ve not only changed the way we think about and experience entertainment — especially music — but they’ve changed our behavior and relationship to the content and the artists who created it.

My thanks to Tom’s Hardware, Ross Toro & Sue Marquette Poremba for these excellent timeline illustrations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Margouleff is a Grammy Award winning American Record producer, recording engineer, electronic music pioneer, audio expert, and film producer. Margouleff’s work has always been on the innovative edge of art and technology. Most noted for his work with electronic music synthesizer programming for Stevie Wonder, he produced four of the music sensation’s albums.

In 2004 Margouleff realized that surround sound for the home theatre was different than theatrical surround. He advanced the theory of “near-field” surround mixing and mastering and formed Mi Casa Multimedia, a unique complex of sound studios located in an old Hollywood mansion. In these studios, which emulate the home environment, Mi Casa’s engineers remastered for Home Theater audio for over 100 top-selling titles, including New Line’s entire Lord of The Rings cycle, MGM’s James Bond Collection and Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand.

Now Margouleff is committed to the next big disruptor in audio — fully immersive audio technology for music, games, VR and AR. He joins HEAR360in their quest to make VR sound incredible.

HEAR360

Sound incredible.

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