Discovering Immersive Sound – MrAud.io Interview Pt. 1

Matthew Reisinger Immersive Sound Technologist

We talked to Composer/Sound Designer & Immersive Technologist, Matthew Reisinger (MrAud.io), who is working at the forefront of exciting new audio technology.

Read Part 2 Here

From films to FedEx commercials, MrAud.io uses creative sound technologies in projects both big and small. His work has spanned beyond this, where he has worked alongside multimedia companies to develop highly immersive real-world installations which push the boundaries of technology and sound design.

In the first part of this two-part interview, he discusses his career to date, why he fell in love with all things sound, and where he spends his days working with sound and audio – warning, prepare to be green with envy!

Could you share with us how you got interested in working with sound?

Sure! I started in sound in the 90s when I was introduced to the 1979 Moog prodigy – that was the first time I understood the difference between a keyboard and a synthesiser, and it blew my mind.

Since then, I’ve been chasing sound synthesis and acoustics and everything technologically related to sound; modular systems, recording bands, cutting tape.

I studied as an audiologist because I wanted to learn more about the psychoacoustics of sound and how someone feels about sound – our perception of it.

That got me into immersive sound design for festivals. I would install rigs at festivals like Ultra Music Fest in Miami, and do commissioned art spaces where visitors could experience sound in a brand new way.

I’ve done it for almost 25 years now and it’s all I think about, so fortunately I made a career out of it!

You have worked on some huge commercial projects with brands like FedEx and Adidas – how do you land those projects?

Adidas was the result of making enough cool stuff that you wind up meeting other people that are doing other cool stuff. 

I got a call from a guy back in my hometown who worked for a boutique ad agency and production studio. I was one of the only sound persons he knew, so he brought me on as a consultant and eventually hired me as their full-time audio specialist for production and post-production.

Now, whenever it comes to sound design, he calls on me for help…it was really just being in the right place at the right time.

MrAud.io

One of their former employees that I met while there had several big clients himself, so I ended up working on lots of his projects as well. Eventually got to work on campaigns for Adidas and that was one client where we could be very creative.

Now, whenever it comes to sound design he calls on me for help with concepts and sounds that can’t be pulled from libraries. Those projects are amazing and it was really just being in the right place at the right time.

Do you have a preference for the work that you do?

That’s a great question! I get bored easily, with anything from food choices at a restaurant, to my listening habits. So with my work, I just love to do it all.

One of my more recent ventures has been working in film. As a kid, I dreamed of making movies, so now that I am landing these jobs working with big talent, unique concepts, and creative ideas, it is very exciting for me; I love that world.

But what I’m increasingly spending more time on these days is immersive sound design – implementing systems such as Dolby Atmos and L’ Acoustics L-ISA system to create 3D surround installations. I love working in an object-based workflow, which I think is the future of sound design. One can develop a three-dimensional space – both virtual and actual – where sound can move around the room and everything works in accordance.

You can create these immersive “Whales” of sound that you can walk through the bellies of and feel it’s life around you

MrAud.io

For me, Ableton is the backbone of this organism that you can expand with Max/MSP or Reaktor or other object-based systems, so it can become an organic thing. We can create these “whales” of sound. You can walk through its belly and feel its life around you. That’s what I’m doing now – working with these artificially intelligent soundscapes.

Speaking more of gear, what is your typical studio set-up? Do you work from home or do you work in a commercial studio?

I use different studios, depending on the project.

For Dolby Atmos, a Netflix mix or Apple spatial, I will go to a studio that’s 10 minutes north of my current location. It has a full Atmos array with Bowers and Wilkens Diamond speakers. It also has the Pro Tools MTRX system and a very expensive Mac Pro. It’s really nice, with theatre reclining seats and a 4K laser projector – it’s a pleasure to be there.

For other projects, I spend a lot of time where I am now – this is my sound design sandbox. It has a 16-voice Moog One and some granular synths. 

I also have a cart with a Sound Devices MixPre 10 II, so I can do on-location recordings with some interesting capture devices such as Ambisonics, contact mics, or specialized microphones that can record frequencies 4 times the range of human hearing. I monitor through Focal monitors with the Avid Eucon system for mixing. I also have a Eurorack modular synthesizer and other fun odds and ends such as a tape machine and a theremin.

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I do a lot of my immersive sound design pre-production work from this room. I work out of the research and development lab of Vū, a company focused on the integration of several cutting-edge technologies. They design large LED volumes that are up to 8K resolution with 120 Hz refresh rates to be used as the background for virtual production.

Vū mostly focuses on the visual and production aspects while I explore how we can integrate these ideas sonically. Being in collaboration with a company like this is great for me because they have all the other parts of the industry handled by qualified professionals, so I can just focus on the sound.

I do a lot of my immersive sound design preproduction work from this room. I work out of the research and development lab of , a company focused on the integration of several cutting-edge technologies. They design large LED volumes that are up to 8K resolution with 120 Hz refresh rates to be used as the background for virtual production.

Vū mostly focuses on the visual and production aspects while I explore how we can integrate these ideas sonically. Being in collaboration with a company like this is great for me because they have all the other parts of the industry handled by qualified professionals, so I can just focus on the sound.

How did the NAB Show project come about? 

Vū has partnerships with several companies, one of which is the Mark Roberts Motion Control Company (MRMC). In the previous year, they deployed the Bolt High-Speed Robotics Camera and attendees were asked to dance as they were captured at high speeds for slow-motion playback, and it went well, but this year they really wanted to scale up the immersion.

MRMC came to Vū, and we devised an experience which uses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to place visitors in a virtual space. We designed a Cyberpunk-like motorcycle on which one could traverse a dystopian landscape, and my role was to figure out how that would feel sonically. 

I wanted the chassis to feel like it was really rumbling, so we used a subwoofer in the seat. We flowed wind throughout the space and we generated the sounds live – it was devised so that you have this moment where a 30-second experience really does immerse you.

image source: MRMC

The speakers were Genelec 8351, which are point-source speakers. The phase coherence at any angle is essentially perfect because the drivers are aligned, so even from the queue for the experience, there was a great energy – the music was flowing and ever-changing. It was just one of those things where we wanted to make it the coolest experience ever, and I think we did – It was super fun!

Click here for Part 2 of this article where MrAud.io further details the sound design of the Unreal Ride Exhibition using Krotos Plugins.

Why not read more about Immersive Sound Design from some of our other interviews?

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