d&b Soundscape engages delegates for annual global symposium.
As all eyes in Portugal were swiveling toward Russia and the impending soccer World Cup, delegates from around the globe descended on Lisbon for a unique presentation. Hill’s, America’s leading brand of pet nutrition and their long-time production company, Harvest Productions, had chosen to pioneer d&b Soundscape for their annual symposium. As a means of corporate presentation this was something revolutionary, and the fact this happened at all underlines Hill’s commitment to science based advances, an ethos embedded in the Hill’s brand and fundamental to its success.
“We have always done 360 in-the-round style presentations for Hill’s,” explained Josh Koan, Harvest’s project leader for this event. “And we always wanted to create a totally immersive experience for the delegates that places them within the context of the content we have created. Following the release version of Soundscape we invested immediately in this amazing technology.”
“We were in a large ballroom at a hotel in Lisbon, Portugal,” continued Koan. “A central stage is used for all speech-based presentation, the delegates surrounded the stage, and they in turn were surrounded by a 360-video panorama. What we wanted to achieve was to have an audio system that worked emotionally with the video, but the meat of the show is the Hill company presenters and what they have to say.”
The video content was a mix of pets in action and footage of Lisbon, shot by the Harvest team. “We then paired that to multi-track recordings made at the same so we could paint an accurate audio portrait, giving all delegates - wherever they sat - a spatially accurate experience.”
“The whole system comprised point-source loudspeakers, mainly Y10P with some E12-D,” explained Ryan Hargis from the d&b EAS team in the US, who supported Koan on this, his first use of d&b Soundscape. “With two elements to the presentation as Josh described, the physical sound design also has two components: an inner ‘out-firing ring’ for speech based presentation and an ‘in-firing’ system of E12-D and Y10P on the video perimeter.
“The systems were in a circle so from the perspective of the Soundscape software, elements of both systems always formed part of the environment. That approach really emerged when Josh and I first ran the simulations in ArrayCalc back in the US.”
For a first time ‘out of the box’ experience Koan was delighted. “In reality it was very smooth. Yes, of course there were a couple of things we needed to adjust on site, but in terms of slotting Soundscape into the d&b workflow, ‘system reality’ it was.”
In addition to speeches and video, Koan was charged with a live entertainment element to further engage the delegates. “The violinist and guitarist of a folk group, both using radio mics, started their performance by entering from the video perimeter and walking through the delegates to the stage. We audibly choreographed that movement using En-Scene so all delegates had a geographical experience of the performers as they moved through the room, and then we added En-Space to create a reverberant concert hall experience in what was a quite dry acoustic environment.
“That worked so well in rehearsals that we also applied it to the speech presentations. A touch of wet to the voices made the listening experience much more natural. Instead of sounding like an amplified voice in a typical hotel ballroom it sounded more like a professional presenter with all the inherent power and emotion they are accustomed to using when throwing their voice unamplified. The delegates may not have consciously acknowledged the effect but that is good, it was that transparent. We found it so easy to do and stable to work with that we used it for the entire show – in that sense it was a total illusion.
“This was not a simple ‘snap to a new position’ audio, this was real-world transiting through space from one location to another, and without any need for complex programming to achieve that effect.” For the show,” concluded Koan, “we just sat back and let it run. It really was that easy.”