Sound(scape) design in virtual production: using location sound in the studio

Ian Thompson, Sound Designer on the set of the‘How To Be Good’ project in the Stockwell Street Studios at the University of Greenwich in London
A scene in Unreal Engine which was the location setting for ‘How to Be Good’
A local industrial estate served as location based recording for the virtual set
VP Sound diagram for basic audio playback schematic
Writer/Producer/Co-Director Jodi Nelson-Tabor watches shot setting up in the monitor
  • Using a keynote sound to represent the virtual environment on set adds to the sense of immersion in a scene, and (as reported from one of the actors) is a helpful cue to enter ‘performance mode’ at the start of a take as the sound is faded up.
  • Dynamic spatialisation in the game engine is not entirely necessary, as most takes are relatively static and don’t require sound to subtly shift in perspective in the same way as imagery.
  • Routing keynote audio from the VP PC via a mixer adds essential control on set; that background sound can become tiresome after a while!
  • Playing sound cues on set can help orientate actors and help them respond appropriately.
  • Close miking of actors in the studio potentially eliminates the need for ADR, if caveats such as low noise levels on set and relatively dry acoustics are met.
  • The ability of VP hardware to generate and share linear timecode with camera and sound is essential if time savings are to be fully realised.

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Dr. Jodi Nelson-Tabor

Dr. Jodi Nelson-Tabor

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Dr Jodi Nelson-Tabor is a Filmmaker, Writer/Producer, Sr Lecturer & Creative Consultant working across the traditional and immersive creative economy sector.