VR Concert Recordings at the 50th Montreux Jazz Festival
The Montreux Jazz Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Its amazing archive of recordings, dating back to the festival’s beginnings, was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2013. Owing to the fact that the festival’s founder, late Claude Nobs, had always been very interested in the latest recording technology, many of the concerts were documented as multitrack recordings or HD and 4K videos. It is not least due to this history that we were asked to record some of the concerts in 3D video and sound for the festival’s 50th anniversary – in addition to the AV productions they usually make.
We supplemented the Nokia Ozo system used for video recording with an AMBEO VR Mic provided by Sennheiser. This turned out to be a very good decision: The microphones integrated in the Nokia Ozo camera are unsuitable for concert recordings because, among other things, their fixed gain causes the signal to get clipped almost constantly.
In post-processing, we spatially placed the individual instruments’ spot microphones relative to the perspective of the 360° camera using spatial acoustics and 3D audio software. This resulted in high sound localization acuity and spectacular realism, which of course cannot be achieved with classic first-order Ambisonics.
„By adding the VR Mic recordings, we were able to significantly improve the 3D mix.“
We captured sounds in the immediate vicinity of the camera, both from prominent sources that were not equipped with their own spot microphone and from the general sound ambience surrounding the camera. This ensured that image and sound fit perfectly.
In post-production, we heightened the sound localization acuity of the original first-order Ambisonics with a parametric decoder (Harpex). The virtually placed sound objects integrated seamlessly into this spatially balanced soundscape.
We were also very pleased with the AMBEO VR Mic’s small size since it allowed us to easily include it in the camera rig. The structure – consisting of the microphone stand, the camera and the microphone itself – was discrete enough that we could record concerts from very exposed places, like the center of the stage.
About Fabian Knauber
As a studied acoustician, Fabian Knauber has acquired a broad theoretical knowledge of room acoustics, 3D audio and binaural technology which he complements by his practical experience as a freelance sound technician. Along with live sound and studio productions, his core areas of expertise include elaborate speaker-based installations and 3D sound for virtual reality.
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