Recording Immersive Audio for Blackout

One misty morning this fall we crawled out of bed at 3:30AM, made ourselves over-sized coffees and headed to the Brooklyn creative audio studio Antfood. We were greeted by three members of their team sporting roguish grins, a disembodied mannequin head and six human ears precisely molded in silicon. The motley bunch of us descended into the near-deserted subway system to record the sounds of the underground.

Fritz, the Neumann binaural head microphone explores the New York subway system.

Fritz, the Neumann binaural head microphone explores the New York subway system.

The Antfood team had augmented Fritz – a premiere binaural head-shaped microphone – with a headdress made of two additional sets of 3Dio stereo ears. Recording with this mega-microphone captures a very detailed sound of the train car from six sides. For Blackout, this allows the viewer to hear every part of the symphony of the train car in 3D. Anything Fritz heard, you'll hear in amazing fidelity – if there's a cough to your left, your mind tells you there's someone over there (and they're having respiratory issues.) We recorded everything from the rumble of the undercarriage below you, to the ever-unintelligible announcements over the PA to the hiss of the doors closing next to your ear. When you look to the left in the Blackout train, the aural space adjusts appropriately to match your physical position. It’s uncanny how well it works.

 
 

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René Pinnell

As a filmmaker & designer, René produced the acclaimed comedy show Backpack Picnic, directed the feature documentary The King of Texas, sold a TV pilot to MTV, designed 5 products & founded 2 companies.