quinta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2011

[Virtual Environments] What is a Virtual Environment?

Virtual environments have been increasingly used for a variety of contexts: teaching in classrooms, informal learning, distance learning, business, and e-commerce to name a few.
  • A specific kind of a virtual environment are the Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs): that perceptually surrounds the user, increasing the user’s sense of presence. Usually, IVEs track a user’s head and body position, facial expressions and gestures, and other information, thereby providing much more information about where in the environment the user is focusing his or her attention.
  • Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) or Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVES) describe virtual environments that involve more than one user, with avatars interacting with each other. With increased bandwidth and more available Internet access, virtual environments that allow for greater multi-user interactivity have become more widely available in recent years.
  • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), Massively Multiplayer Online [Games] (MMOs) all describe similar things. MMORPGs often are based on fantasy themes (e.g. in online computer games such as World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, or Everquest II)
  • Multi-user domains (MUDs) and MUD Object Oriented (MOOs), are primarily text-based environments that were the predecessors to today’s graphical virtual worlds.

segunda-feira, 18 de julho de 2011

[3D Audio] Pure Stereo 3D Audio™

Pure Stereo 3D Audioor ("Pure Stereo" for short) is a recent breakthrough in audio technology (licensed by Princeton University) that yields unprecedented spatial realism in loudspeakers-based audio playback allowing the listener to hear, through only two loudspeakers, a truly 3D reproduction of a recorded soundfield with uncanny accuracy and detail, and with a level of high tonal and spatial fidelity that is simply unapproachable by even the most expensive and advanced existing high-end audio systems.

3D Audio Demonstration for 2 speakers. (Please place yourself in the middle of the speakers)

This is quite impressive and probably will be the future of 3D audio. In the paper at this link there is a very good introduction to Pure Stereo 3D Audio™. I did a resume of it in the following lines:

How does Pure Stereo work?
When the stereo recording is played through the two loudspeakers of a standard stereo system, the ILD and ITD cues are largely corrupted because of an important and fundamental problem: the sound recorded on the left channel, which is intended only for the left ear, is heard by both ears. The same applies to the sound on the right channel. Consequently, an audiophile listening to that recording on standard stereo system will not correctly perceive the musician to be standing on the extreme right of the stage but rather at the location of the right speaker.
In order to insure the correct transmission of the ILD and ITD cues to the brain of the audiophile, the sound from the left loudspeaker to the right ear, and that reaching the left ear from the right loudspeaker (called "crosstalk") should be cancelled.
Pure Stereo is based on a breakthrough in XTC (technique of crosstalk cancellation) filter design, that allows producing optimized XTC filters, called BACCH fi lters, that add no coloration to the sound for a listener in the sweet spot . Not only do BACCH fi lters purify the sound from crosstalk, but they also purify it from aberrations by the playback hardware in both the frequency and time domains.
The result is a 3D soundstage with a striking level of spatial and tonal fidelity never experienced before by audiophiles.

Does Pure Stereo require special room treatment?
Abating room reflections with physical room treatment (i.e. using sound absorbers on sound-reflective surfaces) in a listening room is always beneficial to any audiophile-grade sound system. For Pure Stereo the efect of sound treatment is equivalent to using loudspeakers with high directivity. The more directive the loudspeakers are, the less sound treatment is needed for Pure Stereo to produce a full and accurate 3D sound image.Therefore, in a reflective untreated listening room, directive loudspeakers are more desirable. In a well treated listening room with sound-absorbing surfaces,any loudspeakers, even omnidirectional ones, will produce an excellent 3D image.

Does Pure Stereo require sitting in a sweet spot?
Like for standard stereo, where serious listening requires the audiophile to sit in an optimal location called the sweet spot, Pure Stereo also has a sweet spot.
However, unlike standard stereo, where the sweet spot must be at a given location and in a vertical plane that is exactly equidistant from the two loudspeakers, the sweet spot of Pure Stereo can be designed to be anywhere in the listening room, because the Pure Stereo filter can compensate for any asymmetries in the listening configuration.
The Pure Stereo sweet spot is large and robust enough so that a listener sitting in it perceives a high-fidelity 3D image without having to strain to keep his head in a fixed position.

Does Pure Stereo require special positioning of the loudspeakers?
While Pure Stereo filters can be readily designed for a pair loudspeakers and a sweet spot in an any geometric configuration (including the standard stereo triangle configuration), it is highly recommended that the loudspeakers be positioned in the so-called \stereo dipole" configuration, which typically has the loudspeakers about 50 cm apart only.

Is the 3D realism of Pure Stereo the same with all types of stereo recordings?
The stereophonic recording technique that is most accurate at spatially representing an acoustic sound field is, incontestably, the so-called "binaural" recording method, which uses a dummy head with high-quality microphone in its ears. Until the recent advent of Pure Stereo, the only way for an audiophile to experience the spectacular 3D realism of binaural audio was through headphones.
Pure Stereo shines at reproducing binaural recordings through two loudspeakers and gives an uncannily accurate 3D reproduction that is far more stable and realistic than that obtained by playing binaural recordings through headphones.

How does Pure Stereo differ from other 3D audio techniques?
High order ambisonics (HOA) and wave eld synthesis (WFS) are two other techniques for 3D audio over loudspeakers. They are presently being developed by a number of research groups and can, in principle, reconstruct an approximation of a recorded 3D sound eld over a relatively large area (larger than the sweet spot of crosstalk cancellation techniques). However, unlike Pure Stereo, they require a large number of loudspeakers for playback.
Moreover, unlike Pure stereo, both HOA and WFS are incompatible with stereo recordings as they require highly specialized recording techniques involving a large number of microphones.

I let you with a Video explaining what is Pure Stereo 3D Audio™ by the words of it's inventor Professor Edgar Choueiri 

[Studio360 website] http://www.studio360.org/2011/apr/29/adventures-3d-sound/
[3D3A website] http://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/index.html
[Pure Stereo 3D Audio™ Paper] http://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/Publications/Pure%20Stereo.pdf

[3D Audio] 3D Audio for 3D TV

The 3D3A Lab  is devoloping 3D audio for 3D TVs and other 3D video and cinema applications. The approach relies on advanced loudspeaker and DSP technologies.

You can read the press release at this link, or the resume that follows:

The new technology branded as DynaSonix™ is essentially a combination of CML’s technology to form and direct sound beams and Princeton’s innovative optimized cross-talk cancellation filter technology (called BACCH™ Filters). DynaSonix™ has been further enhanced by the addition of miniature Camera-Based Automatic Set-Up (CBAS™) developed by CML. A Flat Panel TV (FPTV) sound system using DynaSonix™ will be able to locate up to eight listeners in a room and then direct a pair of sound beams to each listener, one beam for the left ear and the other for the right.  Thanks to the effectiveness of Princeton’s novel BACCH™ Filter technology, the left ear and right ear hear two related but different sets of audio content. This allows for the delivery of a true 3-D audio experience, designed to complement the fast growing deployment of 3-D Televisions.

DynaSonix™  is similar to CML’s commercially successful Digital Sound Projector™ 5.1 surround sound technology, in that it delivers sound from a single array of tiny transducers integrated into the FPTV or placed in a soundbar unit, which sits under the TV’s screen. This means thatDynaSonix™ can deliver a theatrical 3-D audio experience without the need to wire the room for multiple speaker units.

CML expects to announce the details of this partnership in the Spring of 2011, and to be able to offer a fully mass-production ready solution in time for the consumer electronics industry’s 2012 model releases.


segunda-feira, 11 de julho de 2011

[Audio and Games] An overview by Leonard J. Paul

Leonard J. Paul is a composer and sound designer for games that on the last fifteen years worked for companies such as Electronic Arts, Backbone Entertainment and Rockstar. EA's NBA Jam, NHL11, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, NBA Live '95 and the indie award-winning title Retro City Rampage were some of the games that he worked on.

He was the Keynote Speaker in the AES 2011 Brazil conference and referred some important topics about audio and games:

Sound Design needs to concern with
Creativity :: Design, style, recording, synthesis, editing, compositing, mastering
Technical :: Define how the sound reacts to physics & environment to select or generate the sounds to trigger, where to store!
Production :: Purchase libraries, recording schedule, code schedule for complex real-time sounds such as engines and crowds

Game Audio has four areas
Like film and television, game audio contains music, speech and sound effects. But games also require interactivity and real-time effects applied to the audio. When this occurs, game audio moves further away from its roots in linear media.

Samples and Synthesis need to coexist
Samples can be looped several times so that we can audio-reproduce an ambient with frogs and flies for example (this is a very primitive ambient, if we don't add some random variables this will sound very repetitive).
When we are playing a car game where the car can skid in an unpredictable way we need to generate audio in real-time based on rules and behaviors. The best way to do it is using samples and synthesis together to give a cleaner sound with full harmonics, this is called Procedural Sound Design.

Audio is always last
Normally a sound designer will be pressed by the game development team for storage space & CPU. "Often the most interesting audio possibilities require too much CPU horsepower, so a balance must be struck". L. J. Paul says then that if the audio team can demonstrate the prototype to the rest of the team early in development cycle, they can lobby for more resources before decisions are set.

Pure Data is a great tool to prototype audio for games
"Pure Data (and its ilk) are interpreted languages which avoid the time spent recompiling when changes are made. They also allow the user to modify parameters and behaviors while the patch is running. This real-time feedback loop between modification and audition makes prototyping very rapid. However, nothing is perfect and there are a number of significant drawbacks which can cause problems during prototyping. One of the main problems with a modular programming environment such as Pure Data is that the order of operations, which one often takes for granted in a more procedural language such as C++, can become quite difficult with larger patches."

Game audio needs to sound real
"With game audio platforms supporting audio resolutions similar to film, the question is no longer if we can produce audio which sounds good, but whether we can produce audio which reacts well and sounds good in all of the different states that the game player might trigger."

[Leonard J. Paul website] http://www.videogameaudio.com/
[AES 2011 - Video Game Audio (presentation.pdf)] http://videogameaudio.com/A4V-Feb2011/Audio4Visuals-London-VideoGameAudio-LPaul-5Feb11.pdf
[AES 2011 - Video Game Audio (presentation.mp4)] http://www.videogameaudio.com/AES-May2011/VideoGameAudio-BrazilAES-May2011 LeonardJPaul.mp4
[Gamasutra - Audio Prototyping with Pure Data by Leonard J. Paul] http://www.gamasutra.com/resource_guide/20030528/paul_01.shtml

sexta-feira, 8 de julho de 2011

Why this Blog?

This blog was created to organize a Master thesis research. Nevertheless I'll try to keep it interesting and not too much technical so that everyone can read and enjoy it.
Please feel free to comment my posts and correct the information that might be wrong, you'll be helping me =).

Sound greetings, Sérgio Azevedo