Facebook & Real Industry bring VR Audio Experience to Students

On January 24, 2019, Real Industry kicked off an Immersive 360 Spatial Audio Challenge at the University of Michigan. Over a 4 week period, students were mentored by Facebook’s Sound Design and Audio Engineering teams to create their first ever 360 spatial audio content. Spatial audio can fully immerse a user in an experience, adding realism and directing attention within VR or 360 video. This presents a major shift in the music, film, and gaming industry.

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Challenge Kickoff

January 24th, 2019

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At the kickoff event, students were provided with the industry tools needed to create 360 spatial audio content: Facebook donated 20 Oculus Go headsets and the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, Avid donated copies of its flagship Pro Tools l Ultimate, and Pro Sound Effects donated access to their award-winning sound libraries.

Student teams selected a 360 video without sound. Their mission: add sound, music, and dialog to create an immersive 360 experience.

With these tools, 70 students formed 17 production teams embarked on a 4 week challenge. Teams included three different roles: a team captain (audio engineering lead), music supervisors, and sound designers.

The Facebook teams held weekly virtual office hours to help guide the teams through the production stages of content creation.

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Four Weeks Later..

February 22nd, 2019

After four weeks of navigating the technical and the creative process, each team exported their project to an Oculus Go for an Immersive Audio Open House demo session.

Members of Facebook’s Sound Design and Audio Engineering teams flew back to Michigan to meet with each student team individually. Over 15 critique sessions, industry leaders facilitated a feedback and design critique process mirroring their process at Facebook HQ. We think that’s what the saying “learning from the best” means.

We ended the day with an open house for all students. With 20 Oculus Go’s setup, students were able to experience and evaluate each other’s projects. Students submitted feedback for their classmates and voted on the project they were most impressed by. The Peer Choice Award was given to one team and all members were awarded an Oculus Go.

You can check out the Peer Review Award project below.

Remember, students were provided a 360 video without sound. Every audible element, from footsteps, waves, wind, and dialog, was meticulously added in by the winning team!

Over 70 students walked away with a potential new career path, an expanded professional network, and a portfolio piece for their resumes. Facebook gained invaluable feedback on their Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation and helped to create dozens of new content creators. Avid and Pro Sound Effects introduced the next generation of industry leaders to their flagship products. The University of Michigan faculty gained invaluable industry contacts and resources to support their faculty and students.

Real Industry is now more passionate than ever about supporting the next generation of students who find themselves at the intersection of art and technology!

The 360 Spatial Audio Challenge presented by Facebook and Real Industry delivered everything I could hope for as a student: great, cutting edge software, top industry connections and a supportive group of professionals to help me take my skills to the next level. I learned an incredible amount about the opportunities available to me professionally while making friends with talented peers who shared a similar vision. After working hard toward a common goal, receiving feedback and advice from some of the top audio designers at Facebook was a truly invaluable experience you can’t get anywhere else.
— Jerry Jones, Music Composition, School of Music Theater and Dance