Immersive Children’s Stories
About the project…
I have been gradually working on this project since University, where I developed the idea of 3D audiobooks: An immersive world, sonically painted in the listener’s head as the story is being narrated. The stories are closer to that of a radio play, just with the sounds positioned in a 3D sphere.
The hope is that these stories might better hold the attention span of children who are learning to read. You can download an accompanying script here: Spacewalk Audio – Thieves and the Cockerel Script
They could also be used as foreign language tools, keeping language learning interesting for all ages.
I am also keen to research whether this could have benefit for sight impaired children, as I imagine that this spatially rich content could be far more significant to them.
An immersive future
This is the fourth audiobook I have developed, but the first to constitute a true proof of concept. Until now I have focused on childrens’ stories, but I can also see the concept being applied to content for all ages.
A stripped back approach with just ambiences could be applied to novels, for example. Horror stories and thrillers could become truly intense. Even audio guides at historical and cultural sites could be made a lot more interactive. Children’s books are just the beginning!
To create the spatial effects in the story a special recording technique called “Binaural” was used. The effect, however, has limitations. For the best results, true binaural requires the sounds to be locked in to position at the time of recording. The result is long and complicated recording sessions, and sounds which are difficult to recycle. Whats more the end result will sound different to each listener. You can read more about this in my blog.
In the last few years, aligned with the development of Virtual Reality, the audio industry has been working on a new technique – Ambisonics. With this technique recording is far simpler, the results are more consistent and, most importantly, the sounds can be moved within the soundfield. It is with ambisonic recording that I see this project progressing.