Research & Development

Posted by Chris Pike on , last updated

I’m very happy to announce Sounds Amazing 2020, a free online conference running from 14th-16th October. It will be celebrating the most exciting and innovative developments in audio, both creative and technical. This event is a co-production between the BBC Academy and BBC Research & Development and follows on from the really successful Sounds Amazing event that we ran together in 2018.

Register for Sounds Amazing 2020:

Day One - October 14th - Audio industry leaders from film, TV, and gaming.

Day Two - October 15th - Accessibility, Voice+AI, and COVID creativity.

Day Three - October 16th - Commissioners, spatial audio, and podcasts.

It's common to hear from people working in sound that their craft is not given the same importance as the pictures. However, in recent years audio-led media has been hugely successful. We've seen massive growth in the popularity of podcasts and music streaming, as well as technological innovations such as voice-controlled speakers and 3D spatial audio. This event aims to showcase and celebrate some of the most innovative and inspiring audio work around today. We'll be hearing from the talented people involved in these projects about their ideas and techniques, and we'll also discuss the latest industry trends that we should all know about.

I've been working closely with my colleagues in the BBC Academy (the BBC's training and development department) over the year to produce the programme for this event, and I'm really excited to share it with you. A few parts of the programme are still being confirmed, but we already have a great set of talks planned. Our host is, once again, the brilliant LJ Rich - a musician and sound designer, and a presenter on the BBC's technology programme Click.

The Sounds Amazing 2020 conference will run online over three days from 14th-16th October. Each day will have a morning session (11:00-12:00) and an afternoon session (13:30-14:30), with a half-hour "techno bubble" slot (12:15-12:45) in between. So hopefully there's time to enjoy it around other tasks in the day. The presentations and panel discussions will be streamed live, with audience Q&A, so we really encourage you to join in on the day. However, the talks will also be made available on-demand on the BBC Academy website after the event, for those who can't make it.

You will need to register separately for each day of the conference that you want to attend. Below I talk through the programme for each day, with a link to the registration page for each. I hope many of you will join us in October!

Day One (14th October) - Book a place for Day One

On day one, we'll hear from industry leaders about their amazing award-winning work on sound across film, TV and gaming.

Nina Harstone and John Warhurst, the Oscar-winning sound editors of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, will explain how they recreated the electric atmosphere of the iconic 1985 Live Aid concert and seamlessly blended the voices of Freddie Mercury and Rami Malak.

Sounds Amazing 2020 - Nina Hartstone

The pioneering wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson will reflect on his work bringing us the sounds of the natural world, including the recording of authentic and evocative soundscapes for HBO's TV docu-drama Chernobyl.

Sounds Amazing 2020 - Chris Watson

In the lunch-time session, we'll hear from the BBC Blue Room about some of the most exciting new audio gadgets and tools. In the afternoon session, we hear from experts in game audio about their innovative work and what we can learn from it. Sound designer Sam Hughes gives us a sneak preview in the video below. Composer and sound designer Omar Khan will join Sam.

Sounds Amazing 2020 - Sam Hughes

Day Two (15th October) - Book a place for Day Two

On day two, we'll start with a fascinating session on rethinking accessibility of audio through object-based media and personalisation technologies.

Lauren Ward and Mariana Lopez, both from the University of York, will discuss their work to improve the listening experience for people with hearing and visual impairments respectively, by considering accessibility as an integral part of the creative process.

Alexis Kirke from the University of Plymouth will also talk about the Radio Me project, which aims to use artificial intelligence and sensor devices to transform live local radio into a personalised, responsive service that can help those living with dementia.

In the techno bubble slot on day two, we'll hear from Nicky Birch for the BBC's Voice + AI team (and formerly in R&D) about creative opportunities with voice-controlled speakers and smart headphones. The afternoon session will focus on creativity during the COVID lockdown. Tony Churnside will talk about his work on the comedy series Dave Podmore in recent months, covering the challenges and opportunities it raised, including working with actors who are self-recording. Ben Shirley (Salsa Sound) will talk about his work to bring back the atmosphere to sports events in empty venues.

Day Three (16th October) - Book a place for Day Three

On day three, top commissioners from the BBC and beyond will give their views on the most exciting trends and their most innovative output.

A longtime friend of the R&D audio team, Cathy Robinson will talk about her latest work on 3D spatial audio over lunch, including an upcoming project that uses our new Audio Orchestrator tool.

Sounds Amazing 2020 - Catherine Robinson

In the final session, we'll hear from leading podcast makers whose work stands out in what is now a very large crowd. James Robinson (Tracks and The Bomb), Helena Merriman (Tunnel 29) and Dan Maudsley (Paradise) will talk about their great work and interesting trends in podcast genres such as true crime, documentary, and drama.

Sounds Amazing 2020 - Dan Maudsley

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BBC R&D - Casualty, Loud and Clear - Our Accessible and Enhanced Audio Trial

BBC Taster - Casualty: A&E Audio

BBC R&D - How we made the Audio Orchestrator - and how you can use it too

BBC MakerBox - Audio Orchestrator

BBC R&D - Audio Research

BBC R&D - The Mermaid's Tears

BBC R&D - Responsive Radio

BBC R&D - 5 live Football Experiment: What We Learned

Immersive Audio Training and Skills from the BBC Academy including:

Spatial audio: Where do I start?

3D surround sound for the headphone generation

Sound Bites - An Immersive Masterclass

Sounds Amazing - audio gurus share tips

This post is part of the Immersive and Interactive Content section