Professional Sound - April 2018 - Page 9

INPUT A NEW OPPORTUNITY IN AUDIO: PART 2 Technicolor’s Scott Gershin on Audio for Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality By Andrew King S cott Gershin, supervising sound editor and mixer with Technicolor, presented a session at The 2018 NAMM Show called “Mixed Reality & the New Opportunity for Audio.” We invited him to share some thoughts on the technologies and techniques being used f or these applications, and where he sees the most potential. Here’s part two. PS: Whether you can name the specific project or even just offer some general details, what are some of the more in- novative or exciting VR or AR projects that you and Technicolor have had a hand in lately? SG: We’ve done over 20, maybe even 30 VR projects to date. What’s fascinating and quite enjoyable about each of the projects that we’ve done is that each one is very different from the next. We’ve done documentary-style VR projects that are just fascinating – we love [VR content platform] Within. There’s one coming out shortly for Sundance called Awavena. We’ve done Giant. Some of these projects are just really fascinating, because you get a chance to participate in an envi- ronment in a 360 way that allows you to get a very real idea of where these films are set. That’s a very neat thing. Then there are other projects we’ve done that aren’t out yet that are more gaming-based, and a lot of it is neat in that it gives you that 270-degree look, and it’s very immersive, so you’re on or in that place and it’s just a ton of fun. We’ve done some projects tied to mov- ies that expand those film universes – a piece with [the 2017 remake of ] Jumanji, a piece with [2016’s] Passengers, where it’s kind of an extension of the film. I did something called My Brother’s Keeper – a short little piece for PBS on the Civil War focusing on two brothers. One ended up going to the south and one to the north, and they faced each other in a battle in the Civil War, and the film explored what that meant. So everyone’s still experimenting with what they want VR to be. There’s a lot of great material people are working with. We’ve even done music videos. People are still playing with different concepts and ideas on what will work best in VR and AR. PS: Where do you see the most opportunity for growth in this industry, in terms of product de- velopment, consumer potential, and even job creation? SG: We’re still at the very, very beginning, I believe, of a new in- dustry. Some people think it might be a fad and some don’t. There are reasons I feel it has a lot of potential for growth. A few challenges we’re faced with are that we’ve just been introduced to 8K TVs, and they’re amazing. So people are get- ting used to super-high definition when it comes to TV and film. When it comes to phones – and sometimes it’s not phones, but just with devices of that size, even though they do 4K, it’s called a 4K wrap, where it’s stretched to a spherical circle, so in any given spot, it’s a lot less than 4K resolution. People feel to get VR to the same place TV is, we need to be working in 16K, so that’s the target that a lot of people feel we need to hit for this to be really competitive. There’s also a big discussion about AR vs. VR, and that’s like apples and oranges. AR is an extension of the reality you partici- pate in. If you wanted to walk around with sticky notes of what to buy, or your to-do list, that could live in the environment you work in. It embellishes or overlays content into the reality you’re working in. So I com- pare AR to the development of the com- puter – computers to laptops to tablets to phones to watches. We want to utilize that kind of information and those functions quickly. If we could have a goggle that basically gives us that information within our reality, that’s where I feel the evolu- tion of accessing information [through AR] could go. Within a generation, I think AR will have the potential to take over the computer, because how many people now use their phones to access that information and functions that could eventually just be incorporated into what we see? Right now, everything is big and clunky and it’s all still very young, so I equate that to when I was younger and mobile phones came out and they looked like WWII walkie-talkies. If someone asked, “Do you think that’ll catch on?” You’d think it was ridiculous. And now, look at mobile phones. So I think AR is going to become huge Now, the discussion many people have is, is VR just a stepping-stone to AR? And I say no. When we look at entertainment, since the caveman days, we’ve always wanted a form of escapism – someone telling a story around a fire, going to see a play, go- ing to see a movie, to TV, to now everyone watching what they want on their tablets. Everybody wants to be entertained, number one. Number two, everybody wants escap- ism. Many people aren’t happy with all the aspects of their life, so they want a way to escape. If we can create the Hollosuite [from Star Trek], and if you’re in a 10 x 10-ft. apartment you don’t love and want to be anywhere else, you could put the goggles on and be skiing the Alps, or be anywhere else. I think that’s important, and I think once the technology is mature, it could be widely adopted. The other thing, and it’s a bit morbid, but baby boomers are now talking about end-of-life. People in hospitals near the end of their lives don’t want to be there, and don’t want the reminder that life ends. Can we help people in their last days have a dif- ferent experience? If they pop the goggles on, they could be anywhere they wanted. It’s the perfect illusion, so in medical, that could be a serious tool. As they’re giving me my happy meds, I’d love to be on the beach or skiing or anywhere else than the hospital. And maybe I have avatars of my family with me. There’s so much potential in that area as well. PROFESSIONAL SOUND 9