Pro Tools for Virtual Reality Asbjoern Andersen


The emergence of virtual reality (VR) means a lot of changes for the way content is created and used. And in this special interview, AVID’s Tony Cariddi shares his insights on what the future holds for creatives using Pro Tools for VR content creation:


Written by Jennifer Walden



New features come with every Pro Tools upgrade, but you always get that one feature that makes you say, “How did I work without this?!” Take Offline Bounce for example. Every Pro Tools user was thanking the audio gurus at AVID for bringing that timesaver into their workflow. I mean really, bouncing stems in real time? Insanity! Now, on the cusp of VR virtually becoming a daily reality, content creators are going to want to work with their favorite audio artists instead of having to choose from the small pool of talent wielding the prototype tools for VR production and post production.

Content creators are going to want to work with their favorite audio artists instead of having to choose from the small pool of talent wielding the prototype tools for VR production and post production.

While many third-party companies have been perfecting their VR workflow solutions, AVID has been busily preparing their Pro Tools platform to be the place where these third-party tools can work together, in an environment that’s comfortable for most audio post pros. We’re all waiting for that Pro Tools upgrade that will make us say, “How did I ever work with VR content without this?!” Tony Cariddi, AVID‘s ‎Director of Product and Solutions Marketing, generously shares some insight into Pro Tools upcoming VR workflow solutions.
 

Audio post pros who are familiar with linear projects, like films or series, may not know what they’re up against in terms of handling post sound on virtual reality projects. Can you explain some of the differences in the Pro Tools workflow for a linear project vs. a VR project?

In the simplest, most fundamental way, in virtual reality you have the viewer interacting with the content rather than just passively watching it or listening to it. Tony Cariddi, AVID‘s ‎Director of Product and Solutions Marketing So that sets up the expectation that the content is going to respond to the interaction in a natural way. For example, when the viewer turns his/her head the expectation is that not only does the picture follow, but the sound is going to follow too. That creates a lot of new challenges.
You are dealing with a lot of new variables. Obviously with the surround and immersive mixes that our customers do today using Dolby Atmos or other multichannel surround formats, they have sounds respond to camera angles and things like that, but in virtual reality it has to be much more fluid. You also have new challenges when dealing with stereo field information, which doesn’t really respond so well with traditional panning in virtual reality. When someone turns his/her head, what do you do with a stereo source? So virtual reality opens up a lot of opportunity for new technology to create natural sounding results, and it also sets up a lot of questions aesthetically, just like surround did.
 

What’s been the biggest challenge so far in designing tools that specifically address VR workflows?

We are looking into support for Ambisonics. We have really strong tools for surround and automation, really advanced tools that give mixers a lot of control over that. Outside of that, as it pertains specifically to virtual reality, most of our efforts at this point are to make sure that our SDKs — our Alliance Partner tools, are strong and exactly what the development community needs in order to integrate their tools into Pro Tools. For almost 30 years we’ve had a very vibrant developer community that has made plug-ins for Pro Tools, and plug-ins for Media Composer.

One of the huge challenges in the industry is that there are so many different tools that it becomes very difficult for the users, whether it’s the facility manager or the actual engineer, to integrate all of these things together

And now more than ever, one of the huge challenges in the industry is that there are so many different tools that it becomes very difficult for the users, whether it’s the facility manager or the actual engineer, to integrate all of these things together. There’s no shortage of companies or individuals that are creating amazing tools to solve these problems. But what they don’t do is make it easy for the user to integrate all of these tools together and make them work together. So a lot of our focus over the past few years has been to develop a really strong platform upon which they can easily integrate these tools. So when a user needs to work on a virtual reality project, we make sure it is super easy to get the plug-in, or get the add-on, and simply start using the professional tools that they’re familiar with, and that it gives them compatibility with the rest of the industry.
 

Are there any specific solutions/tools that AVID is developing for Pro Tools to help audio post pros design and mix for VR?

We’ve been working on Dolby Atmos integration and that’s going to be a big boon for anyone working in virtual reality because you can have control over specific objects across a 64-channel speaker matrix. That gives you a lot of flexibility.

We’ve been working on Dolby Atmos integration and that’s going to be a big boon for anyone working in virtual reality

In addition, we’re looking at supporting Ambisonics natively in Pro Tools. We’re also working closely with gaming developers to ensure better workflow across Pro Tools, middleware, and gaming platforms. Otherwise, we are working to make sure that we have a solid platform to support the third-party developer tools, and making sure those can be integrated into Pro Tools.
 

In the future does AVID see themselves developing reverbs or compressors or EQs that are designed specifically for the virtual reality environment?

I think that’s possible but I can’t speculate on what will happen. But, historically we have developed a core set of tools for new formats as they have evolved and became more prevalent. At the same time, we’ve always ensured strong support for the third-party ecosystem, which is usually more agile to produce these tools because they are smaller companies and they can really focus-in on one single thing. So I can’t give a definitive statement about our future development but I think that it is possible that we may develop something like that in the future.

With Pro Tools, we have an extremely mature platform and strong development tools for third-parties. As the challenges of VR workflows become clearer, to us and to the market, we will need to keep our SDK and Alliance Partner tools updated to make sure that they can hook-in in the right way. So we are continuing to evolve that platform to make sure that the development community has everything that they need to create and integrate the best tools possible.
 


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Are there different workflow requirements for virtual reality projects vs. augmented reality projects?

With augmented reality, you typically think of imagery and graphics overlaying reality. With virtual reality, the entire environment is fabricated. With augmented reality, you have an overlay of interactive production material on top of the real world. It’s usually more of a graphic-based medium compared to virtual reality, which require more sound information. So we have augmented reality tools, such as Orad’s RealSet, which are used in the sports production world — producers can superimpose information on the screen, follow players, put three-dimensional objects in a three-dimensional space on existing footage that you can interact with. So we have a very strong set of tools on that side with RealSet and a handful of other products in that category.
 

When it comes designing, mixing, and print mastering for VR, what solutions will AVID/Pro Tools offer audio post pros that will allow them to make a final mix and then get that back into the VR project?

You can do that today. There was a company called Two Big Ears that was acquired by Facebook in the spring. Their product is called Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, and it enables users to wear a headset and do the mix within Pro Tools.

It enables users to wear a headset and do the mix within Pro Tools

It handles all the final encoding for you and syncs it back to the final video for you when you are done. So you can do the mix while you’re in that immersive format without having to go back and forth. So that technology is here today and it is only going to get better and better. (For more info, you can check out Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation)
 


Travel to Yosemite National Park in VR, thanks to this National Geograhic presentation, created using the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation suite

 

For many audio post pros, Pro Tools is their defacto DAW. They’re comfortable designing and mixing on that platform…

People doing this work are typically seasoned professionals and they’re going to want to work in a familiar environment they are comfortable with, so that’s what is great about Pro Tools. You have this immersive VR format and emerging technology, and instead of having to utilize completely new tools in a new workstation you aren’t familiar with and don’t have years of muscle memory to take advantage of, you can work in a way that’s familiar and with the same tools.
 

How does Dolby Atmos for VR differ from the Dolby Atmos tools for linear projects?

The tools they are going to manifest in Pro Tools will be pretty similar. Atmos gives you a lot of flexibility to place objects in very distinct places across a 64-speaker matrix.

If you’re in a small room, or living room, or a giant Dolby-spec theater, those mixes will translate better than they ever have before

That scales really nicely; if you’re in a small room, or living room, or a giant Dolby-spec theater, those mixes will translate better than they ever have before. The basis for this technology will impact VR production just the same.You have a lot of objects to work with and move, so the Dolby tools will translate to that format very nicely.
 

Where would AVID like to be with their sound for VR tools 5 years from now?

We try to stay very close to what our customers are up against, to their challenges as they evolve. That evolution is driven by economic factors, and the health of the industry. Sometimes there are technological breakthroughs that help to advance that. But what we want to do is make sure that we continue to stay close to the customers. We want to make sure that as these relatively new workflows are evolving, that we are seeing where the hang-ups are, where the pitfalls are, and find out where we can increase efficiency and enable creativity.

How can we deliver tools that make their jobs faster, especially for tasks that are redundant and menial? How can we speed that up so that our customers can focus on getting a great sounding mix, and getting very creative results? Beyond that, we want to make sure that we are able to support our really strong third-party Alliance Partners who are usually on the forefront of solving a lot of our customers’ challenges too. We want to stay close and partner with our customers, and also with the developers, so that we can create the best workflow experience possible.

A big thanks to Tony Cariddi for this look to the future of VR sound in Pro Tools – and to Jennifer Walden for doing the interview! Learn much more about Pro Tools here

 

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    Video Thumbnail

     

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Helicopters Agusta A109 Play Track 243 sounds included $159

    The Agusta A109 sound fx library features 243 clips in 12.22 gigabytes from an Italian
    military helicopter. This collection includes recordings from 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206C Turboshaft engines with 418 kW (561 hp) each, recorded during a military exercise.

    A total of 22 exterior perspectives capture the sound of this helicopter in 14 takes.
    Microphones arranged at the front, side, and behind record idling, departing, and
    arriving. A range of low to high turbine and rotor RPMs are captured in stationary idles.

    Each sound is embedded with Soundminer metadata. The collection is also bundled
    with Reaper and Pro Tools sessions that arrange each take for easy editing and mixing.

  • Destruction & Impact Pirate Game Sounds Play Track 136 sounds included, 9 mins total $19.99 $14.99

    136 high-quality sound effects specially crafted to help you put sound to your pirate game.

     
    They are divided in:

    – Battle (Cannon shoots, impacts on ships and water, sword hits and wounds)

    – Player sounds (eating, drinking, walking)

    – Foleys (map sounds, hoist sail, repairing ship, dig, tavern sounds, chest sounds)

    – Voice (emotions like laughs, shouts, affirmations)

    – Ambiences (Tavern ambient, ship ambient, ocean waves ambient)

     
    More about the pack:

    – Intuitive file naming.

    – All you’ll ever need regarding pirate game sounds.

    – It also contains 2 pieces of music: A tavern song and a fanfare.

     

    [Use them again & again]

    Use the sound effects over and over, in any of your projects or productions, forever without any additional fees or royalties. Use the SFX in your game, in your trailer, in a Kickstarter campaign, wherever you need to, as much as you want to.

     

    [Professional audio services]

    For custom music, sound design, sound engineering or any other game audio services, please send a mail to: audioalchemiststore@gmail.com

    25 %
    OFF
  • The only audio library of its kind on the market, this massive sound pack is designed to go above and beyond in rewarding our customers, offering unprecedented value to your players! Unlock the forbidden magic of Halloween with this truly unique collection of spooky sound effects and music. Each sound is handcrafted and optimized to be the perfect addition to your slot game and is the only Halloween slots library you’ll ever need!

    FOR ANY SCARY THEMED OCCASION

    Transform your project with hundreds of incredibly versatile sounds and voice-overs for ZOMBIES, MONSTERS, WITCHES, GHOSTS, DEVILS, DRACULA VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, CREEPY CLOCKS, GHOSTS, BATS, and EVIL LAUGHTER! Not to mention the highest quality spooky Halloween music you’ll need, with SOUND AMBIENCE BACKGROUND LOOPS for interior and exterior environments! This pack’s audio covers a diverse collection of themes and styles — for cartoons, blood-curdling horror, upbeat loops, engaging short stings, stripped back background loops, and more!

    FOR ANY SLOT GAME SOUNDS

    Any sound needed for a slot game user interface is included, such as button sounds, bet high and bet low sounds, minimum and maximum selection sounds, notifications, triggers, reveals, reel spin starts, reel spin loops, hums and whooshes, simple and special anticipation reel stop sounds, win payout tune rollups, coin sounds, spooky symbol sounds, anticipation-building wind-ups, sounds for summaries and transitions, and more! Whether your slot game is physical or online, each asset has been painstakingly optimized to cut through the background chatter and immerse your players in the haunted horrors of Halloween like never before.

    INCREDIBLE EASE-OF-USE

    Enrich your title in seconds with beautifully mixed, AAA quality sounds brought to you by our team of industry veterans, whose 600 slot games worth of experience have culminated in this extraordinary sound pack!

    SPOOKY CASINO SLOT GAME SOUNDS at a Glance:

    • 300 Audio Files (150 original sounds) – all in High-Quality WAV and MP3 formats
    • 100+ Symbol Sounds, Buttons and other Interface Sounds, Reel Spin and Stops, Trigger Sounds, Selection and Reveal Sounds, and more!
    • 30 Music Loops, Stings, Numerous Variations and Edits, Win Tunes, Payouts and other Celebration Tunes + much more!
    • Ready to use – requires no editing, labeling or splicing. Categorized, organized and individually labeled files for maximum use efficiency
    • FREE Updates to higher versions, FOREVER!
    • BUY NOW in time to create an amazing project for Halloween!
  • Destruction & Impact The Eiravaein Collection Play Track 21,000+ sounds included, 3265 mins total $1,129 $790

    The Eiravaein Works total mix.

    This auditory omnibus includes all 30 of our individually released SFX libraries. Encompassing a tremendously diverse amount of content, topics, unique sources, designs, recording techniques, and channel formats, our complete collection provides you with over 2.25 days of professional audio assets.

    With the Eiravaein Collection, you will receive:

    48Kilos, Anarchy, BigBlock, Bunretsu, Burst, Crepitus, Dx, Epona, Flourish, Gravitas, Grit, Helinä, Ilmarinen, Jarred, Kieuk, Latchlocker, Meridian, Mouthy, Nocked, OutwardInversion, Parched, Start Select, Tubular, Unfathomed, Vaeya I, Vaeya II, Vaeya III, Vaeya IV, Wakey Wakey and Yvaine.

    30 %
    OFF
    Ends 1571954399
  • Environments Assorted Water Play Track 82 sounds included $70

    Introducing ASSORTED WATER – A collection of graceful, pure water sound recordings.

    Each sound has been meticulously studied to ensure it is free of any blemishes or unnecessary background intrusions, such as wildlife, to make sure that the recordings can be used for any scene or environment with ease, maximizing efficiency and usability. Hear the results for yourself by taking a listen to the audio demo.

    This collection focuses on water flowing and falling, with categories such as water through a variety of drainpipes, hose nozzles, taps, storm drains and more. There is also a broad selection of smooth streams, raucous rivers, waterfalls and weirs. Also included is an array of often-useful rain recordings hitting mud, leaves, vehicles, umbrellas, plastic and other surfaces. Check out our sound sheet for the full list.

    All sounds are royalty free and equipped with comprehensive Soundminer metadata for rapid access.

    We are extremely proud of this collection and we hope you will enjoy using the sounds …we sure have been!
    Introducing ASSORTED WATER – A collection of graceful, pure water sound recordings.

    Each sound has been meticulously studied to ensure it is free of any blemishes or unnecessary background intrusions, such as wildlife, to make sure that the recordings can be used for any scene or environment with ease, maximizing efficiency and usability. Hear the results for yourself by taking a listen to the audio demo.

    This collection focuses on water flowing and falling, with categories such as water through a variety of drainpipes, hose nozzles, taps, storm drains and more. There is also a broad selection of smooth streams, raucous rivers, waterfalls and weirs. Also included is an array of often-useful rain recordings hitting mud, leaves, vehicles, umbrellas, plastic and other surfaces. Check out our sound sheet for the full list.

    All sounds are royalty free and equipped with comprehensive Soundminer metadata for rapid access.

    We are extremely proud of this collection and we hope you will enjoy using the sounds …we sure have been!

    KEY FEATURES
    • 96 kHz, 24 Bit mono/stereo WAVs
    • 82 individual SFX in 72 files
    • 6 GB of data
    • All WAVs include extensive embedded descriptive metadata
    KEY FEATURES
    • 96 kHz, 24 Bit mono/stereo WAVs
    • 82 individual SFX in 72 files
    • 6 GB of data
    • All WAVs include extensive embedded descriptive metadata

 
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One thought on “What the future holds for Pro Tools and VR – a Q&A with AVID’s Tony Cariddi:

  1. Interesting read. Their product team taking Ambisonics seriously is a late yet great start. More tracks are already being recorded and mixed in Ambisonics format, especially in Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA), but can’t be easily loaded and processed at the moment as Pro Tools HD limits only 8 channels per track. I believe this has significantly hindered many sound engineers and plugin developers from utilizing Ambisonics. Looking forward to hearing updates on HOA.

    Food for thought. Will Pro Tools update/improve interpolation features for automation any sooner? Angle is one of the most critical parameters for interactive sound to fully implement head rotation and spatial positioning in VR, but it’s not properly addressed by the current version. i.e. if the object doesn’t fall under min and max range, its angle value gets distorted right when it passes 360 and 0 degree :(

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