SAE Creative Media Institute audio lecturer Nick Harrison has been educating students using the cutting-edge VR spatial music-mixing software Dear VR Spacial Connect, offering a full 360-degree immersive mixing experience for students.
Through Nick’s teaching of the undergraduate and postgraduate audio programmes at SAE, he shares his passion for immersive and interactive sound. It is in the postgraduate programme however, where Nick is able to apply the virtual reality (VR) technology to the Immersive Audio module in the Master of Creative Industries.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, SAE’s flexible blended learning model gives me the opportunity to introduce students to immersive audio production – the future of audio. I use this to help demonstrate new immersive mixing tech. The learning is centred around immersive sound design for linear VR, and the students complete 360-degree binaural sound design that can be experienced in VR,” Nick says.
Spatial mixing in VR is an exciting technology, helping to augment the traditional methods used for panning sound in 360 degrees in audio production software like Pro Tools, Dolby Atmos and Ambisonics mixing. The technology gives users the opportunity to have 360 degree control of the audio sources alongside levelling, acoustics and automation.
A recent demo Nick produced tracked binaural ambisonic mixing, and merged sound production skills with cutting-edge technology – all through VR.
“In the demo I've used a virtual theatre and played an SAE promotional video on the 2D theatre screen. An interesting benefit of VR is that the speakers can be positioned anywhere – even under the floor!”
Deputy General Manager of SAE Australia, Dr Luke McMillan, says Nick’s work highlights the talent of SAE teachers. “Faculty like Nick are pioneering the future of creative industries through emerging technology. By studying at SAE, students not only get access to the latest in cutting-edge tech, but our expert faculty too,” Luke says.
Nick has also developed audio-based applications via the Unity and Unreal game engine. “My current project is tracking turntablist scratching techniques – using low latency IMUs (inertial measurement units) on records – into Unity for a side-scrolling space shooter. I hope to encourage students to develop their audio endeavours through using new tools like the Unity game engine and offer up my research as inspiration.”
SAE teach creative media education across six disciplines – animation, audio, design, film, games, web and mobile.