DOING SCIENCE Colby Ramsey catches up with Nuno Fonseca about what we can expect from Sound Particles 2.0...
or those who aren’t familiar, Sound Particles is an immersive CGI-like software application for film, TV, VR, music and game audio production. Introduced in 2016, it is designed to offer unique and efficient sound design workflows, increase creativity and reduce the time needed to create and record complex sound effects in virtual 3D environments. Having been used on a number of feature film releases – including Aquaman, Ready Player One, and Alita: Battle Angel, among many others – since its release, Sound Particles 2.0 is now adding a whole host of new features to
the award-winning audio tool for sound designers. Recently, the company’s founder and the brains behind Sound Particles itself, Nuno Fonseca, told me how he had to almost completely rewrite the entire application just to include support for Windows. One of the big new features is the addition of CGI metadata recognition, allowing users to import native CGI animations, such as Autodesk’s .fbx files. It’s therefore possible to tag graphical components and automatically track keyframes, saving time by streamlining workflows for dynamic objects. “It lets users import from animation or from visual effects, and essentially gets the sound to behave in the exact same way as the images,” says Fonseca. “I really think this could be an interesting way to explore complex sound designs in the future. “Another significant feature we have now is the ability to start rendering things and making tweaks in real-time – with the first version of Sound Particles, you had to render the entire audio file before listening,” Fonseca adds. “With the new version, you can actually change parameters on the fly, unless you are of course using thousands of particles – or sound sources – which just cannot be done in real-time!” Meanwhile, Sound Particles 2.0 has also added binaural
monitoring support. This allows users to monitor and audition their immersive audio creations – perhaps some 3D audio project with Dolby Atmos or something in VR – with direct binaural output to headphones, avoiding traditionally complex DAW import and routing requirements. “We realise that this is of course just the tip of the iceberg, and believe there is so much you can do with this native 3D approach to sound,” says Fonseca. “We plan to release new updates every month that increase the processing power of Sound Particles, opening it up even more in terms of experimentation with creating big battle scenes for video games and such. We’re going to release track presets so that users can easily change between particle settings, and we’re also making some adjustments to the engine, which will be announced within the next few weeks.” For many years Sound Particles was just Fonseca’s personal project, but what he has now decided to do is outsource the company vision and try things a little differently. He now has a team of 11 people dedicated to expanding the scope of the software: “Our vision is to create a native 3D DAW that would allow users to do all the usual things, but with the advancements of computer graphics and a native workflow,” he says.
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