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Dolby Presents The Future of Immersive and Interactive Music

May 02, 2019

by Eric Eldredge, Dale Pro Audio

The Future of Experiencing Music is Here.

With all of the latest developments in spatial audio, delivery formats, and advances in personal device technology, the world of immersive and interactive media is expanding at an exciting rate. What does this mean for music, and how it's created, performed, and consumed by the world at large? Our friends at Dolby Laboratories brought together artists, producers, and technologists to this informative evening event at their Soho pop-up location in New York City.

Left to right: Dolby's Nicolas Tsingos with panelists Francois Kevorkian, Agnieszka Roginska, Jessica Brillhart, and Andrew Melchior.

Getting Started

After a catered cocktail hour in which the attendees could unwind from their days, Dolby's Nicolas Tsingos introduced the panelists for the evening:

  • Francois Kevorkian is a world-renowned DJ, dance music producer, studio manager, and record label owner. Often considered one of the founders of house music, his credits include some of the industry's top names for over four decades. He continues to innovate in his performances at EDM festivals worldwide.
  • Agnieszka Roginska is a Professor of Music Technology at New York University and president-elect of the Audio Engineering Society. She is the author of numerous publications about the acoustics and psychoacoustics of immersive audio and auditory displays and is the co-editor of the book titled Immersive Sound: The Art and Science of Binaural and Multi-Channel Audio.
  • Jessica Brillhart is an immersive director, writer, and theorist who is widely known for her pioneering work in VR. She is the founder of the mixed reality studio Vrai Pictures. Her work explores the potential of immersive mediums while also diving into a number of important medium and media-related issues, such as access, disability, and cultural representation.
  • Andrew Melchior has written, performed, and produced music for himself and others and is now also renowned for his experiments in digital media for artists including Massive Attack and Björk. Melchior acted as technical advisor to Björk for work featured in Björk Digital, an ongoing touring VR exhibition featuring VR music videos for the singer’s ninth studio album, Vulnicura.

After introductions, the group began detailing some of their work in the immersive audio field thus far, taking attendees on a journey through virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive media.

Andrew Melchior began by showing his work on an app in which playback of multitrack files from Massive Attack's legendary Mezzanine album was connected to a smartphone's sensors. This would then affect the user's experience of the music in relation to their movements. He then played back some demo footage of the VR experience he had helped to develop involving an interactive performance with Björk.

Jessica Brillhart then took over, talking about her work with a variety of clients, and how to create immersive soundscapes that allow users to get closer to concerts than ever before. She showed us two recent projects that married VR and AR to a concert, one with Yo-Yo Ma and one from a 1969 Elvis Presley performance. Lastly, she detailed her latest venture, an app called Traverse, which debuted at this year's SXSW festival.

Francois Kevorkian has always been at the forefront of creating space in his mixes - his immediately recognizable style being heard on such records as Depeche Mode's Violator. When asked how he felt that immersive technologies could potentially move the dance club experience forward, his thoughts were about creating a space that can be as much or as little of personal experience as can be wished. He also reminded the group that it's highly important to make sure that any technological development is in tune with what both creators and consumers are able to use.

Lastly, Agnieszka Roginska gave out more of a "scientific" view of the subjects at hand, with a rather interesting take - these developments aren't necessarily pushing audio forward as much as "catching up" with a natural human tendency to hear audio immersively. To emphasize this, she made note of ancient ritual spaces in human history millennia ago, right up to more modern cathedrals. She concluded her segment by describing some of her recent ventures in having performers and dancers in various places work together connected by VR and fiber transmissions, and the challenges of making them "feel" like they're in the same spatial environment.

The night concluded with some more socializing and a demo of Dolby Atmos mix room centered around an Avid Pro Tools | S6 and Dolby's Atmos Mastering Suite, staffed by Avid and Dolby specialists. Overall, it was an enlightening view into the world of music and technology, and where it may head next.

Many thanks to Dolby for putting the event together and for the gracious invite!

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