Sound for Film Confab Explores Potential of Immersive Media

Scott Gershin Headshot BW - Publicity - P 2017
Courtesy of Technicolor

With virtual reality and other new forms of immersive entertainment, viewers no longer watch passively — they become participants in the story. What that means for sound pros was addressed by award-winning sound editor and designer Scott Gershin (Pacific Rim), who delivered the keynote at Saturday’s Mix Sound for Film conference on the Sony lot.

Presented with the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors, the event attracted an estimated 450 participants.

Sound and music for immersive entertainment are unique for each viewer, explained Gershin, who works in film, TV, games and VR, and serves as creative director at the recently launched Sound Lab at Keywords Studios. "The 'mix' is created by player interactions, their placement within the environment," he said. "When they’re controlling objects such as weapons or tools or interacting with different characters, all of these determine how the dialogue, music and effects will be 'mixed.'"

Gershin noted that while for linear storytelling, the camera guides the viewer through the story, in these new formats, “the challenge is how do we navigate the player."

“Audio is a great tool to accomplish this,” he said. “When a voice from behind you whispers ‘Hey you, follow me,’ you will turn around. If you hear a distant door close, your hunter instinct will propel you to investigate what made that sound — or perhaps in a tension-filled horror title, move you away from the sound if it means pain and discomfort.”

While sharing his enthusiasm for these new platforms, Gershin also reminded the audience that virtual and augmented reality are still in their infancy, and the technology will evolve.

“In regard to AR, I feel that that is the evolution of the computer. We’ve gone from desktops to laptops to tablets to phones,” he said. “Eventually your whole computer screen will be your whole vision. A world of virtual stickie notes around your room, superimposed on your reality.”