EDINBURGH-based pioneer Two Big Ears has expressed excitement over its deployment of its 3D audio expertise in a virtual reality music video for Icelandic star Bjork's new single, 'Stonemilker'.


The software specialist provided the audio framework for the video, which was shot on a beach in Iceland and has premiered at Rough Trade music stores in London and New York. The "groundbreaking" video can also be experienced at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Two Big Ears noted it had linked up with "new reality architects" Third Space Agency and digital production specialist Rewind to create the 360-degree music video for the single, which comes from Bjork's 'Vulnicura' album.

Filmed using a 360-degree camera last November, the music video blends recorded footage with a binaural audio soundtrack, powered by Two Big Ears' '3Dception' technology.

Two Big Ears, which was founded in March 2013 by University of Edinburgh graduates Abesh Thakur and Varun Nair, noted that an exclusive virtual reality audio mix of Stonemilker had been created by Chris Pike. Mr Pike is a senior audio scientist with the BBC.

Explaining the 3D audio concept, Two Big Ears chief executive officer Mr Thakur said: "[It is] where a person would be able to perceive a sound as if it was coming from any space around them."

Asked if he was pleased that Two Big Ears had been involved in the Stonemilker video project, he replied: "It was groundbreaking because nothing like this has been done ever before, either in terms of music or music videos or virtual reality, so that was exciting."

Two Big Ears noted the video ran on a smartphone device. It has been shown on a new virtual reality headset developed by Proteus VR Labs.

Mr Thakur noted it could also be experienced by fitting a smartphone into the Google Cardboard device, and using headphones.

Two Big Ears, which employs four people including its founders, said that the song had been recorded with clip-on microphones attached to each individual instrument. It had then been re-mixed "in a circular form" specifically for virtual reality.

The company said that the 3Dception engine had allowed different instruments to be positioned at any point in space at a very high resolution.

It added: "On the mobile device, the 3Dception decoder takes this information in the form of complex metadata and recreates a binaural mix in real time based on head tracking data. The end result is an intimate experience for the listener who is completely surrounded by both the music and vocals as they look around within the 3D environment."

Mr Thakur said: "Bjork's vision of bringing the listener to the beach in Iceland, where the song was written and the film was shot, compelled us to push the envelope of what is possible on mobile in virtual reality.

"We were excited to work in collaboration with a talented global team towards building a new audiophile virtual reality player that marries the world of real-time binaural audio with high-definition visuals, to create an experience never seen or heard before."

Mr Thakur noted that 3Dception was also powering Bjork retrospective 'Songlines', an "augmented, location-based audio experience" that is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until June 2015.

3Dception is a cross-platform software development kit for virtual reality game and application developers. It enables the incorporation of full 3D audio over any pair of headphones. It projects sounds coming from any point in space, whether this is above, behind or in front of a listener.

Two Big Ears said: "The combination of 3D audio and environmental acoustic modelling creates an exceptionally immersive virtual experience, complementing the visual realism."