How do I record with 8ball?
8ball is an 8 channel “omni binaural” microphone designed to capture live, immersive, head-trackable audio for 360 video and virtual reality applications. We’ve designed 8ball with a proprietary internal clamping mechanism, allowing you to easily attach the microphone underneath a 360 camera rig, outside of the cameras field of view. 8ball has four 5 pin mini xlr outputs on the bottom of the enclosure, and each output carries 2 balanced audio signals for a total of 8 channels. Channel 1-2 represents the front binaural perspective, 3-4 represents the left perspective, 5-6 represents the rear perspective, and 7-8 represents the right perspective. 8ball comes with a custom audio cable that breaks out to 8 standard balanced XLR jacks that can be connected to a multi-channel field recorder such as the Zoom F8. 8ball requires 48 volt phantom power to be enabled on all input channels of your field recorder in order to pass signal. Future versions of 8ball will also work directly with GoPro cameras through the use of special cables, allowing for recording without the need for any additional outboard mic preamplifiers or field recorders.
The capsule numbers 7 and 4 represent the front or “North” position of the mic. Align this with the north position of your camera rig. It is important to note that if you re-align your north video perspective during the video editing process that 8ball audio will also need to be re-aligned. We are working on software that will allow you to do this easily and will keep you updated as soon as that software is available.
How do I set up my Zoom F8 field recorder to work with 8ball?
We recommend recording at 24 bit, 48k or higher. Link the mic pre level controls together to make it easier to set levels. This way you only need to adjust the first mic pre level to make the same adjustment to all of 8 channels. Please record in “mono” file format, (do not use polyphonic file mode). With mono file format, each take that you record will be saved as a folder on the SD card and will contain 8 mono files labeled 1-8. This is important so that you know which pair of file numbers (1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8) represents which binaural perspective. After you have plugged all 8ball channels into your recorder, enabled phantom power, and set your record levels, please make sure to tap test each capsuleI to ensure that they are showing up at the correct input on the Zoom F8.
If you have 2 SD cards, you can record to both cards at the same time for a redundant back-up. Please remember to set the date on the F8 so you have an accurate time stamp on your files. After you format the SD cards in the Zoom F8, download the bluetooth firmware file from Zoom’s website and copy it on to the first SD card. This way you can control the F8 remotely using the downloadable iOS app on your iPhone. Please refer to the Zoom F8 manual for setup details on the above recommendations.
I have recorded audio content with 8ball, now what do I do with it?
Once you have recorded audio content with 8ball, remove your SD card and insert it into your computer. You’ll see all of your takes organized as folders - copy the takes over to your computer. Please note that the audio files contained in each take folder should be labeled with the take number and channel number - channels 1 through 8. It’s very important to make sure that you keep these channel numbers in the name structure of the files throughout the editing process, as the channel numbers correspond to each binaural perspective, and those perspectives must be maintained for accurate head-trackable spatialization.
Once you have transferred your files over, there are several different work-flow options available depending on how you plan on integrating your content and what platforms you are distributing your content on. Start by importing your takes into your favorite DAW for editing, or into your favorite video editing suite. Next, create 4 stereo tracks - one for each binaural pair. Track 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. For ease of editing, you can monitor channel 1-2 (front perspective), but please make sure to group all 4 stereo tracks, and to make the same edits to all of the tracks in the group. If you decide to eq or compress any of the tracks, make sure to apply the same treatment to each stereo track. Once you finish editing, either consolidate or bounce your tracks in your session. Label them 1-2_front, 3-4_left, 5-6_rear, and 7-8_right. Now you are ready to integrate your audio along with your video into the platform of your choice.
At this time, we have a Unity plugin, a custom web player that allows for 8ball head tracking, and support for the Samsung Gear VR. We will also soon have stand alone software that will allow for format conversion into ambisonic work-flows for FB360 TBE, Dolby Atmos, and others.
- Unity - please download our Unity plugin from our downloads page.
- 8ball Web player - please access our web player from our downloads page.
- Samsung VR - please see Samsung file specifications here: https://samsungvr.com/portal/content/content_specs
How do I integrate into Samsung Gear VR?
Start by creating an account at samsungvr.com. Use the creators portal for uploading content.
You’ll need to get a copy of iFFmpeg for file preparation. iFFmpeg is the graphical version of FFmpeg, and it requires FFmpeg in order to compile your files. http://www.iffmpeg.com
When you open iFFmpeg, import your equirectangular video into the processing window. Then add a total of 4 stereo audio tracks. If there is an existing audio track associated with audio attached to the video, delete it before adding in the new audio tracks. For video settings, typically you would choose "pass through" if you have already determined your ideal video format. Now start adding in the 4 8ball stereo audio files that you exported out of your editing session. Samsung requires the following perspective order for your tracks. Track 1 = Front, Track 2 = Right, Track 3 = Rear, Track 4 = Left. Select edit on audio track number one, and select “add external file”. Choose “1-2_front”. For best quality, select AAC 320k. Then select edit on audio track #2, select “add external file”. Choose 7-8_right, AAC 320k. Then select edit on audio track #3, select “add external file”. Choose 5-6_rear, AAC, 320k. Then select edit on audio track #4, select “add external file”. Choose 3-4_left, AAC, 320k. Hit the Play button and render out your file.
Go to the Samsung VR Creators Portal and select “Upload Video”. Choose your video mode (monoscopic, stereo up/down, or stereo side by side. The following is very important. For audio, you need to choose “Binaural” - Binaural represents any type of binaural, including 8ball Omni Binaural. Do not select “Quadraphonic” - the audio will not render correctly.
Samsung will process the video and when its finished you will be able to play back 360 video with head-trackable spatial audio through Samsung Gear VR.
How do you convert 8ball into ambisonic work-flows and do you get elevation information after conversion?
We are developing stand-alone software that will convert 8ball audio into many different formats including ACN and FuMa B format Ambisonics. 8ball is an “Omni Binaural” microphone, not an ambisonic microphone. A single binaural perspective does not translate well into an ambisonic work-flow, and we do not attempt to directly translate binaural into ambisonics. That being said, we have come up with a great way to translate multichannel audio recorded by 8ball into a configuration for ambisonics that sounds excellent, and head tracks really well. We don’t derive elevation data from a sound field decode, but because of how 8ball is designed, there is a lot of elevation data that already exists on the stereo pairs. We developed 8ball to be a flexible microphone that allows for incredible native binaural fidelity, and also great translation into an ambisonic work flow. We believe the sonic benefits of 8ball stand out and we are confident that you will feel the same after using 8ball in your next production.
How do I create a spatial audio mix with other pre-recorded audio in the post production process and combine that with 8ball content?
We are also in the process of developing our H360 spatial audio plugin for Pro Tools and other DAWs. The H360 platform uses our own custom HRTFs and is designed to allow you to layer an omni binaural spatial audio mix on top of an omni binaural 8ball recording, and deliver a final mix output into 4 stereo tracks that can be rendered by all of our playback solutions including Unity, our web player, and Samsung Gear VR. Because we are pre-processing all of the spatial information through our HRTFs, you are guaranteed that the mix you created in your DAW will sound exactly the same when it’s played back though our web player, Unity, or Samsung Gear VR. This is a huge advantage for controlling the sonic delivery in your content. We will keep you updated as soon as we have an Alpha version of our plugin available for testing.