Glad you’re here! I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips. My work as a game music composer has included music for projects released on nearly all of the gaming platforms, from one of my most recent projects (a Homefront game released on all the latest consoles and PCs) to one of my earliest projects (a God of War game released on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita, pictured above). You can read about my work as a video game composer in an interview I gave to Music Connection Magazine for this month’s issue (pictured right).
Lately, I’ve also been creating lots of video game music for awesome virtual reality games developed for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, PlayStation VR, and lots of other top VR platforms. One of the things I’ve noticed while working in VR is the immense importance of the audio delivery mechanism.
When audio is painstakingly spatialized, it becomes crucial to convey that carefully-crafted spatialization to the player with as little fidelity loss as possible. With the importance of this issue in mind, for the past few years I’ve been periodically writing about headphones in relation to their use in virtual reality.
Hey everybody! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips. At this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I was pleased to give a presentation entitled Music in Virtual Reality (I’ve included the official description of my talk at the end of this article). While I’ve enjoyed discussing the role of music in virtual reality in previous articles that I’ve posted here, the talk I gave at GDC gave me the opportunity to pull a lot of those ideas together and present a more concentrated exploration of the practice of music composition for VR games. It occurred to me that such a focused discussion might be interesting to share in this forum as well. So, with that in mind, I’m excited to begin a four-part article series based on my GDC 2018 presentation!
Last year while working on the music of the Dragon Front virtual reality game for Oculus Rift (as pictured above), I gave a lot of consideration to the listening environment in which VR gamers would be hearing my video game music. Since then I’ve served as the video game composer for several more virtual reality games (which will be released in the next few months). I’ve also written a number of articles on this subject in order to share what I’ve learned with other game composers. Last September I devoted two articles to a discussion of audio headphones designed specifically for the demands of virtual reality applications. You can read those here:
In this blog, I thought we might take a quick look at the development of the three dimensional audio technologies that promise to be a vital part of music and sound for a virtual reality video game experience. Starting from its earliest incarnations, we’ll follow 3D audio through the fits and starts that it endured through its tumultuous history. We’ll trace its development to the current state of affairs, and we’ll even try to imagine what may be coming in the future! But first, let’s start at the beginning:
3D Audio of the Past
In the 1930s, English engineer and inventor Alan Blumlein invented a process of audio recording that involved a pair of microphones that were coincident (i.e. placed closely together to capture a sound source). Blumlein’s intent was to accurately reflect the directional position of the sounds being recorded, thus attaining a result that conveyed spatial relationships in a more faithful way. In reality, Blumlein had invented what we now call stereo, but the inventor himself referred to his technique as “binaural sound.” As we know, stereo has been an extremely successful format, but the fully realized concept of “binaural sound” would not come to fruition until much later.