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Project captures the virtual sounds of the theatre

Posted on 18 November 2015

A University of York academic has secured funding to develop an online audio/visual virtual reality experience of a theatre – allowing users to listen to on-stage performances from different seats within the auditorium.

The WEAVER project (Web Audio Virtual Environment Rendering)The WEAVER project (Web Audio Virtual Environment Rendering)

York Theatre Royal has been the site of a working theatre since 1744  and is currently undergoing significant refurbishment and development.

Researchers from the University of York’s Department of Electronics AudioLab team have worked over a number of months to capture visual and acoustic data from the current space.

The WEAVER project (Web Audio Virtual Environment Rendering) will develop novel examples of online sonic art based on virtual acoustics.

The project is led by Dr Damian Murphy, who was awarded funding to develop the project from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and coincides with its 10th anniversary.

He said: “We’re delighted that the AHRC continue to support our research in this area, enabling us to deliver new creative audio experiences with the potential for significant impact across a number of areas.

“The WEAVER project allows us to continue to develop partnerships with leading practitioners in the realms of theatre and broadcast and demonstrates the strength of research in creativity at the University of York.

“It will also provide a bridge to the new Digital Creativity Hub on which both the York Theatre Royal and BBC are partners.”

Damian Cruden, York Theatre Royal Artistic Director, said: “Sound is central to our work: the human voice, acoustic and amplified instruments, audience reaction, applause, laughter and tears all sit at the heart of our medium.

“This is an exciting opportunity to look to new audio-visual depictions representing the evolution of our site and retelling the social and theatrical narrative is one of the key goals in our development programme.”

Dr Frank Melchior, BBC Research and Development Lead Technologist, added: “The opportunities and challenges presented by next generation digital content and its ability to support new experiences for our audiences is central to our New Content Experience strategy.

“The additional web audio functionality proposed in this project fit well with our existing initiatives in object-based sound rendering”.

The WEAVER project is a continuation of research Dr Murphy carried out in 2004/5 which resulted in the Open Acoustic Impulse Response Library.

The library is an online database of acoustic measurements from buildings and environments, both real and simulated, that has become a key resource for electronic musicians, sound designers, software developers and computer game authoring houses.

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