Sean Cleaver speaks to Auro Technologies' Iwan De Kuijper about their 3D audio technology and it's use in The Farm 51's Get Even
Reality is a fickle concept in The Farm 51’s upcoming title, Get Even, which uses sound to distract or disorientate players from what they consider is reality within its world. You’ve possibly seen some of the promotional material for Get Even and the work that’s gone in behind the scenes by composer Olivier Derivie?re in creating the dysfunctional 3D audio for the game.
Auro 3D is a plugin, created by Auro Technologies, that can work with anything that supports Audiokinetic’s Wwise audio solution. The first experience of it in Get Even’s demo is hearing a beat, like a human pulse. It got closer, louder, and more intense before ebbing away and sounding tangibly further away. There’s another point where a piano note plays and you can exactly pinpoint where it is despite there being no piano on screen. So what is Auro 3D doing to create this?
“It’s a technology that allows you to record and playback 3D Audio,” explains Iwan De Kuijper, director of creative entertainment at Auro Technologies. “We work together with Wwise/Audiokinetic to integrate this 3D audio format, Auro 3D.
“So basically what the developer gets is the tools to take that original input and make sure that it outputs over a standard pair of headphones. So you will use the Auro 3D panner and you would use the Auro 3D headphone technology. So all that original information that’s been used with the recording will play back over regular headphones within the Wwise system.”
Thankfully this is still achieveable with standard microphones with no change to the recording process. “You can also use additional height microphones. So [with] the Auro 3D format we have 9.1, 10.1, 11.1 and 13.1 so the 13.1 easily downmixes to 7.1 and the 11.1 easily downmixes to 5.1.” One thing is for certain, we’ve come a long way since binaural.
“In terms of that we can take this higher information, this higher virtual speaker configuration and we can easily downmix that to binaural headphone technology,” adds De Kujiper. “So that’s basically what you’re going to hear. You’ll hear Auro 13.1 in a binaural stream to stereo headphones – any headphones. That’s the cool thing about it. Also in collaboration with Wwise/Audiokinetic, we have cross platform availability.”
The spatial element does give a developer a lot of creative freedom with how they approach manipulating sound. “The good thing about the technology is that we try to make it as natural as possible,” says De Kuijper. “So it’s not about the extremes, it’s about how you use the technology and how you implement it in the best way, making it sound as natural and immersive as possible for the experience.
“If you’re a developer you can code that in. You can decide the 3D positioning of your sounds. With stereo audio you’d have that at a constant level on your left and right ears. In terms of the Auro 3D technology you can take that original sound and have that move around in the 3D image so you can make it brighter, or you can make it smaller towards your ears.
“As an example, there is a part in the game where everything becomes really narrow. So with the technology we are able to take certain elements within the game and make them come closer to your ear. So you get the feeling when you go in to a basement that things start to creep up on you.”
This sound design is the work of Get Even’s composer Derivie?re. “He used creative ways in order to use our 3D technology in the video game,” explains De Kuijper. “When you hear it, you understand what we’re doing. But there are some creative ways that we recorded the score in Auro 3D.
“You don’t want a full-blown orchestra floating around in a 3D environment. That will become unnatural. There are parts in the game where you can actually use it. The way you code [sounds] in to the engine [can] decide how much 3D you want to use. Anything that can use Wwise can also use Auro 3D as its fully supported by the solution.”