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Precipice Binaural Narrative Podcast

Participant at the 2017 'Precipice' installation at AFTRS.

Precipice is a binaural narrative podcast created specifically for the earbud generation.

In late 2016, AFTRS initiated an applied industry research project to create an innovative narrative podcast using binaural recording technology, which uses two microphones to create a unique three-dimensional sound sensation for the listener.

This led to partnership and engagement with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, WNYC (New York public broadcasting) and BBC’s Audio Research Division to explore a new entertainment market within a fast-growing podcast industry.

AFTRS practitioners, students and industry partners collaborated throughout creative development, production and post-production to develop a new form of aural storytelling with commercial potential. The result is Precipice, the pilot episode of a world-first binaural storytelling podcast for today’s earbud audiences. The project demonstrates exploratory aspects in immersive audio scriptwriting, directing performance for audio, sound field and binaural recording methods, and sound mixing techniques. These findings and research assets will be embedded into the curriculum and inform training and production processes for the entertainment industry.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, VOX, for Precipice MP3 and 360 Video

As part of the project, rights to Immortal Bach, arranged for mixed choir by Knut Nystedt, were obtained from Norsk Musikforlag, Norway. The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, VOX, was recorded at AFTRS using a variety of methods and the music used as Precipice leitmotif and theme. In addition, the project produced a Precipice Theme audio track (MP3) and a VOX for the Precipice Project in 360 video, to be distributed with project outcomes.

Vivid 2017 Showcase

In partnership with Destination NSW, Precipice was showcased to a broad audience from May 31st through June 3rd as part of the Vision Ideas Sydney 2017 program. Audiences listened to Precipice as a studio installation, immersed in the dimensional story soundscape of international student Amira and her unsettling experiences with psychiatrist Dr Ferenc. A tech demo space enabled visitors to use the binaural equipment first hand and speak with sound practitioners about the technology. As part of the event, audiences attended a launch including a special performance by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs of the Precipice theme and a main theatre panel discussion with international guests and project collaborators.

More than 170 attended AFTRS across all Precipice related events.

Brett Weymark, Music Director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs

“We are thrilled to join AFTRS’ exciting Precipice Project which will extend the bounds of choral music through the creative use of technology. We hope to change people’s expectations of the human voice and to deliver a new form of art. The process of using the technology to tell the story in a unique way is very exciting and one that our choristers are very much looking forward to.”