We spoke to Chris Pike, BBC Design & Engineering' Sound Expert, to find out more about Turning Forest..
What is The Turning Forest?
‘The Turning Forest’ is a sound-based real-time CGI VR fairytale for people young and old--inviting audiences into a magical space of imagination, where rustling leaves of an autumn forest are also the footsteps of something familiar, yet strange.
It is written by Shelley Silas, directed by award-winning VR artist Oscar Raby, with cutting-edge 3D sound produced by sound designer Eloise Whitmore, the S3A project and BBC R&D’s audio team.
The work premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes Exhibition, which focuses on cutting edge artworks that explore new uses of media, highlighting innovation.
How does the 3D sound work?
The dynamic binaural soundtrack for ‘The Turning Forest’ showcases the BBC’s vision for new listening experiences over headphones and how this can be used in virtual reality.
There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of sound in virtual reality this year. There are now tools available for creating and distributing 360˚ and VR experiences with dynamic binaural sound i.e. headphone sound that gives a 3D spatial impression and updates according to your orientation. With the Turning Forest VR project our aim was to demonstrate the impact that high-quality 3D sound production can make in virtual reality content. To achieve this we built two major components of our audio research work into a production workflow for VR, dynamic binaural rendering and the Audio Definition Model.
Our binaural production system, previously used to create the Fright Night radio dramas, was used to make a broadcast quality sound mix for headphones, using real-time tracking to adapt the 3D audio scene to the listener’s orientation. It was integrated with a synchronised 360˚ video viewer to allow for spatial alignment of visual and sound sources, as previously used on the Unearthed production for BBC Taster.