Audio is a key and overlooked component to 360 VR video capture. With the upcoming Ricoh Theta incorporating spatial audio, and Insta360 Pro including it as part of a firmware update, users of some of the most popular brands of 360 cameras will be able to capture advanced audio for their VR apps. We’ve written a guide on transferring that spatial audio into InstaVR, using Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation as an intermediary. Below, we share a few spatial audio capture tips.
1. Choosing the correct microphone(s) is important
As mentioned above, most of the newer cameras are incorporating spatial audio directly into their cameras. For some existing cameras, or users seeking better sound quality, an outside microphone (or microphones) will need to be purchased. At InstaVR, we’re microphone agnostic. If Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation can accept the audio and create a .TBE file, we can use it.
But you will want to spend some time considering what microphone is best for you. If your funds are unlimited, something like the $1650 Sennheiser AMBEO VR Mic is guaranteed to treat you well. If you’re choosing between mics, things like size, shape, and how it attaches to stands do matter. You have to remember that 360 cameras capture a complete view of the scene, so a conspicuous microphone in a scene can take your users out of the immersive world. Our general advice is the same as with 360 cameras — read the reviews online, with particular attention paid to the negative ones that might have a showstopper issue.
2. Include audio/microphone placement in your storyboarding
Claudia Prat, VR Producer at Univision, has a great Medium post that is a first-hand account of recording a music video using a GoPro Rig with spatial audio. One of things she discusses is an initial center focus point, that changed in the post-capture edit, making the microphone placement location less than ideal. That was only realized in retrospect, which is just a fact of life in audio/video capture.
You can definitely make your life easier by including audio in your storyboarding or narrative planning. With 360 video, camera movement is extremely important. Microphone movement shouldn’t be overlooked though. Before filming, if you’re using spatial audio, you want to consider to what effect you will use spatial audio. To draw attention of the VR viewer to a specific thing in the video? To make things feel more immersive and “real”? To create a cool stereophonic effect? Once you start with the end in mind — what you’re using spatial audio for — you can more effectively plan out your microphone placement and audio capture.
3. If possible, do multiple takes of the same scene
In previous posts on video capture, we’ve always suggested doing multiple recordings, if possible. We know this can be challenging — 360 cameras heat up, have finite amount of storage, and locations can change quickly. But just like with video, doing multiple recordings of spatial audio gives you a better chance in the edit to capture exactly what you want.
With spatial audio in particular, if you’re not an editing whiz, you’re at the mercy of the microphone speakers. You might capture sounds that would distract the VR viewer. Or you might not capture with enough clarity the focal point you’re trying to capture. If you record the same scene multiple times, you can choose the take that has not only has the best video capture, but also the audio that you need to impress with your surround sound VR audio. If you’re including spatial audio in your recording, you have even more incentive to budget your time to record multiple time.
360 video might get most of the press. But if you’ve experienced VR on a high-end headset, you know 360 audio can be just as impressive! With our spatial audio feature, your final app can include the latest and most popular form of VR audio capture. If you’re going to include spatial audio though, do give strong consideration to the hardware you’re going to use, the best placement of the microphone, and try to capture a scene multiple times. All of these are pretty straightforward, but every detail matters in 360 audio and video capture.
If you have any questions on InstaVR or our Spatial Audio feature, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Head of Sales, Andrew Woodberry, andrew at instavr.co or +1 925-708-3928.