Ambisonic Sound for Film



Just starting my reserach paper for my masters degree and i'm interested to hear from anyone who has ever mixed sound in ambisonics - whether it was using B-format recordings or placing tracks into the ambisonic surround field.

How easily did you find the practicalities of working with an extended surround field?

How easily was mixing upgraded from 5.1?

Were there any new factors you had to contend with compared to 5.1?

Have you ever used it with reference to a visual medium, if so, how well did you think it worked?

I'd also like to hear peoples thoughts about the advancement of film audio being reproduced in ambisonics - how successful would you think this would be? Is this something you may like to hear more about?

Also, if you are aware of any practicionars in ambisoncs (like sound artists for installations) i'd love to get some contact details for them.

Any input is very welcome!

Thanks, Gillian

Gillian Glencross

Posted 2011-06-03T13:16:18.523

Reputation: 191



Hum... I'm afraid you'll get very few answers, if any. Why? Tools. Or the lack of them.

Let's begin. Pro Tools: apart from Soundfield's Surround Zone and the new Harpex decoder, nothing else. So, for using Ambisonics in PT, you need audio from a soundfield-type mic (either in A or B Format) or a mix already done in B-Format. So far, there's no B-Format encoder for Pro Tools (but that might change in the near future).

If you're using a VST-based DAW (Nuendo, Cubase, Reaper) there's more choice, but the offering is uneven, depending on the OS. I'd venture to say that the Mac OS has an advantage here. But then, who is using Nuendo professionally on Mac OS for mixing for film/TV? And from those few, who has the time and energy to design a new workflow to accommodate Ambisonics?

Don't get me wrong, if there's an Ambisonics advocate here, it's me. But it's far easier to use Ambisonics in electroacoustic music, sound art and installations, than in an "industrial" process like mixing for film/TV.

You should try to get your hands on Scott Hirsch's 2010 NYU master thesis entitled Integrating Ambisonics into the Post-Production Mixing Workflow.

You should also get in touch with Jean-Marc L'Hotel and Dorian Darcourt in France who recently worked on a film entirely done in Ambisonics. If you read French:

Daniel Courville

Posted 2011-06-03T13:16:18.523

Reputation: 61

We use Nuendo on OSX and we edit and mix major swedish features and TV series with it :-) So yes it is very much doable. I have limited ambisonics experience. We mixed a film with a french sound designer that had recorded quite a bit of material in lebanon using ambisonics. That was very nice and worked well in 5.1. He used the soundfield decoder in the mix.

I am however interested in buying the rather inexpensive tetra mic. But my personal investment fund is empty at the moment. As I also need a good 6ch recorder to go with it, (or I will just modify my Roland R26 to get started). – ErikG – 2013-06-03T20:22:56.280

No the R26 would NOT be the optimum tool for it. But possibly usable at a basic level. – ErikG – 2013-06-03T20:24:21.593

I'm glad to see that somebody is using Nuendo on OSX for TV/feature film post-production! And using it for Ambisonics, to boot! – Daniel Courville – 2013-06-05T15:43:50.660

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your input - i guess i wasnt expecting too many replies concidering how many people might have worked with ambisonics. i think i'm just looking for oppinions at this stage.

Ive not started my workflow yet but ill be using the surround zone in logic with some kind of Max/MSP bridge so ill start working that out in the next few weeks.

I agree about your vst comments and its an interesting point raise in terms of ambisonics accessability which ill probably explore further.

Thanks for the heads up on the people to get in touch with! Appreciate your help, cheers! – Gillian Glencross – 2011-06-06T10:21:32.207


Hi all, I was following this thread. I love that some of you are as interested as I am in using ambisonics with the visual medium. At this point, my master's thesis may well be redundant and out of date, but hopefully it can be of help. Thanks for the shout out, Daniel! You can find it here:

Scott Hirsch

Posted 2011-06-03T13:16:18.523

Reputation: 11


I've had some limited experience working with ambisonics, though not directly with reference to a visual medium. I was working with ambisonic recordings, and used MaxMSP to decode to conventional 5.1 before importing into Pro Tools. I believe that it's possible to use ReWire to stream audio from MaxMSP to ProTools for realtime spatialisation, but it's not an ideal production workflow!

You could try getting in touch with the authors of these two papers (the papers themselves aren't directly relevant..)

They were my tutors at uni, and have done some research into the practicalities of working with ambisonics.

James Bryant

Posted 2011-06-03T13:16:18.523

Reputation: 489


I've just this very moment finished a very short essay for my Masters of Audio and Acoustics. It was a seminar class so we didn't really go very indepth into Ambisonics, but we did build a 16 speaker array and used max/msp to localise sounds within a sphere. 4 speakers above, four below and 8 horizontal to listener.

The class was more about the design aspects of a room and getting the acoustic response of the room and loudspeakers so we could adjust the room properly.

I was tasked with creating the sounds to be replayed through the system.

I made a bunch of sound scapes and musical pieces and placed these within co-ordinates of the sphere in max replicating the sphere of the loudspeaker array.

The main things I noticed (this was only with one or two days fiddling around in the room) was * that panning showed up the gaps between speakers( slower pans = better movement), * co-axial loudspeakers would be better to localise the sound, * the directivity of the speakers at different frequencies causes localisation issues.

Some plugins are available, I have not tested these out as I've just downloaded them myself

Here's an article on mixing THis is more about mixing down to a physical encoder/decoder setup, I'm sure it would be much simpler in a DAW.

For mixing it was difficult as we were limited to the max patch that the lecturer was working with. It didn't allow for any automation, so all sounds were statically placed in the sphere, this made it simpler because the computer wasn't in the localisation spot and i could jump in and out to adjust. If i was mixing something that required panning or mixing to film then you would need to be in the centre of the array to achieve the best result.

One cheat we needed was that there was very little low frequencies coming from the small loudspeakers we were using. So we added a filter below 250Hz to send the sound to all loudspeakers, a similar cheat would be to use a separate subwoofer.

I think ambisonics would be a great archival medium for surround work as it stores angular information for location and not just the speaker you wish the sound to come from as in stereo/5.1/7.1/22.2, this way future speaker arrays or listening situations could use an ambisonically recorded work without the production needing remixing.



Posted 2011-06-03T13:16:18.523

Reputation: 193