Awards and 360′ video workflows! – SoundsByJohan

Awards and 360′ video workflows!

Posted on March 17, 2017

Just found out that one of the projects I worked on last november won “Best International Web Video” in The Reed Awards in Las Vegas. If you’ve never heard of it (like me) it’s an event and conference for people involved in political campaigns.

The film was an initiative from the swedish organization IOGT-NTO who are working for a society with less alcohol and narcotics. It’s a 360′ video that is showing a christmas 1982 in Sweden. The narrator tells the viewer how he as a boy experienced the result of his parents being drunk at christmas eve. How he felt out of place and the more they drank the less he mattered. See it here for yourself:

It was an excellent project to work on and I learned a bunch of stuff. It was my first 360′ film project so there were some new challanges. Luckily it was new for the rest of the team as well so we had to make it work together. I did all the sound for the project, both recording and post so here are some insights.

Working with 360′ content is a whole other thing than working with a normal picture. Just the fact that the camera is static, locked, and in the middle of the scene creates some problems for everyone that are used to work right outside of the frame (sound, lights etc). Since the viewer can choose to watch whatever angle they want everytime we made a shot the team had to hide. Which means no boom mics, only hidden mics.

So what I did was to place a lav mic on each actor to cover the dialogue. All of them were going to speak in the scene and it had to be separated to place them correctly in the room. I also used 3 plant mics. One at the table at the couple, one in front of the boy and one right beneath the camera to get some natural room sound for the narrator later on when he comes closer. These plant mics were great to have in the post work since these were the mics that made it all sound natural and I could use them to fill the room. The lav mics sounded good, but too close to use for room tone. Which takes us to the post part.

I really enjoyed working with this video in post. At first I had a little trouble finding the right tools, but after realizing I’ve been too stubborn staying on a PC, I moved to a mac where I could use the Facebook 360 Workstation (now there’s a PC version too). It had just released a few weeks earlier so there were no PC version out yet… Working with audio in 360′ is very much like working in surround, but instead of turning your head within a 5.1 speaker setup you turn the picture with your headphones on and get the same effect.

The format for the final audio was 1st-order ambiX. It took some time for me to realise how this worked, but I’ll try to explain it. What the ambiX format really is is more or less just the order you put the audio channels in. The ambiX format follows 2 standards, ACN and SN3D. ACN is the ordering of the channels and SN3D is the normalization. I never really wrapped my head around the SN3D part, but it’s important apparently and the only format that google accepts.

In the end, after a little trial and error, we managed to find the correct file formats and all that and I think the product turned out pretty good. 🙂