Atelier IV Blogpost 6 : Getting to Completion

UPDATE: due to the restrictions posed by COVID-19 we have had to rescope our VR Project significantly. Therefore we will only be completing one scene is our VR experience, the beach scene.

For the beach scene sound is one of the most important components. I have focused a majority of my efforts on getting the instructional voice over as clear and simple as possible in terms of content and sound quality.  I got my very talented voice actor Shaughn to help me get the voiceovers for all of the scenes done in the recording studio.

I then took the audio file for the beach scene and edited out any imperfections in sound, for example, shakiness, hard breathing, errors in the script reading and any background sounds from the voice actor moving around.

Next, I had to scour the web for free background music and folly that I could use without having any copyright infringements. For the background folly, it was pretty easy to do this as Youtube’s audio library is quite extensive. However, for the sounds that are more niche to the mindfulness and mediation practice like binaural beats and Tibetan sound bowls I really had to do some digging. I eventually found this site which provides free to use meditations sounds and music.

Next, I took the collected audio and mixed them in Audition to create smooth transitions and more complex audio. For the voice over I added a faint sound of waves and wind blowing in the background. For each object in the scene, I have created an audio track that combines intuitive sounds  (the sound that the object would make e.g, a boat would emit a boat horn sound) with Binaural beats.

Binaural Beats or “binaural tones” are created by playing slightly different frequencies separately into each ear. The difference between the two frequencies stimulates a response in the brain which correlates with this frequency difference. It is used by a variety of practitioners and private users for improving self-confidence, stress relief, pain management, relaxation, improving and concentration and improving the quality of one’s sleep. There types of binaural frequencies, alpha, theta, beta, and gamma.

  1. Alpha music encourages a state of alpha relaxation. The alpha state is a pleasant state of relaxed alertness. While in a state of alpha relaxation, the mind is quite clear and receptive to information, learning is accelerated and one’s sense of creativity is enhanced [1].
  2. Theta is a state of tremendous stress relief. The benefits associated with theta level relaxation include improved concentration, reduced hyperactivity, and improved memory. While in a state of theta relaxation, one’s blood pressure, breathing and heart rate all slow to a much more restful and healthy level that promotes natural healing [1].
  3. Delta brainwaves are most prevalent during deep, dreamless sleep. The delta state is a mostly unconscious state that is essential to one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Delta frequency brainwave entrainment music is also a fantastic cure for insomnia [1].
  4. Gamma brain waves are believed to link and process information from all other parts of the brain. High levels of gamma brain waves have also been linked to improved memory and increased sensitivity to sensory input. Low amounts of gamma brainwave activity have been linked to learning difficulties, poor memory, and impaired mental processing [1].

Using this understanding of brainwave entertainment frequencies I have strategically chosen to associate specific sounds with specific frequencies. For example, when the user activates the windchimes object the audio will be the sound of windchimes accompanied by a soft alpha binaural frequency. Personally, I find the sound of windchimes to be very light-hearted and pleasant so I chose the Alpha frequencies to further encourage a sense of positive and light relaxation and reflection.

Another example of this can be seen in the boat object. When the user activates the boat object the audio will be the sound of a boat horn. This sound really reminded me of deep uninterrupted sleep. Therefore I chose to accompany the sound with Delta frequencies. I have applied the same process of sound association with the rest of the objects in the scene. It is my hope that users will subconsciously understand and benefit from deeply analyzing the sound design as part of their meditational practice.



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