“The genesis of this conference came from the AES’s realization that the largest group of working sound engineers is those that do sound for picture in some way. Over the last few conventions we’ve been addressing workshops and seminars directly to that group of people,” said McCarty, who is the chair of the AES Technical Committee for Digital Cinema and Television. “What I’d like to see come out of this are some action items about what the Hollywood community thinks the various organizations need to do to start meeting their needs.”
Featuring the AES’s first-ever Immersive Audio Day, chaired by Dr. Francis Rumsey, the conference also presented paper sessions, workshops and panels on such topics as cinema acoustics, cinema B-chain measurement and calibration, low frequency reproduction challenges, loudness and noise-induced hearing impairment, dialog intelligibility, equalization and dynamics processing, and content personalization. Presenters also highlighted the pressing need to address the issues of next-generation streaming services and headphone delivery of the established and emerging immersive formats.
The leading immersive formats, several of which are vying for adoption in the ATSC 3.0 next-generation television audio standard, were discussed in great detail over the weekend. Workshops, paper sessions and panels offered in-depth technical details of well-established formats such as ambisonics and binaural sound, Auro-3D’s channel-based scheme, object-based systems from Dolby Labs and DTS, and the hybrid MPEG-H standard.
A presentation by Frank Melchior, lead technologist with BBC Research & Development in the U.K., included the BBC’s “Responsive Radio” internet-based experiments with binaural sound delivered to headphones and also demonstrated that object-based audio can be used for content personalization, not just for generating an immersive experience. “I think we’re a little behind the curve on that,” observed McCarty. “Maybe this will serve to stimulate more interest in starting to deliver those kinds of services to the consumer.”
He continued, “We’ve seen many different techniques for developing and delivering these immersive standards and other audio formats to the headphone market. It’s starting to reach viability now. We need to start putting production workflows in place to deal with them.”
“These are all going to be a lot of work,” said McCarty, during his final summary of the weekend’s events. “We’ve seen that in immersive sound for cinema it’s been a lot of work already. Hopefully, as we work through that process and we add distribution levels, we’ll all be able to build together on the work that’s been done.”
While also calling for a new set of cinema audio standards that set the bar at the best that can be currently supported, McCarty added, “I think we need to be aware that streaming is the future of a lot of our distribution. We need to maintain our vigilance so that we get the same kind of attention that the picture side gets when standards are being developed for streaming.”
Sponsors for the AES 57th International Conference included: Auro-3D, Avid, Dolby, dts, Harman, MPSE, NBCUniversal Studio Post, Sennheiser, and SMPTE.