Radio France Internationale (RFI) has recently expanded into 360° VR through its production unit RFI Labo, utilising Merging Technologies’ Pyramix software.
RFI is a news radio station broadcasting in French and 13 other languages to all five continents. It is broadcast on terrestrial channels, by satellite, on the web and on connected applications.
Multichannel projects are produced at RFI in stereo for terrestrial broadcasting and in binaural for the web, while an increasing number of programmes also include video to be more suitable for broadcasting on social media.
For these productions, the entire technical methodology for sound capture, journalistic writing and post-production had to be reviewed and adapted.
Pyramix has been used at RFI for many years, firstly for vinyl mastering and digitisation. In 2012, RFI Labo, which has one of the largest archives of African music, was created to introduce new technology into the RFI production line in order to make radiophonic writing progress. RFI Labo has a Pyramix Masscore and a Pro Tools connected to a Horus for post-production, while several Pyramix Natives with an interface adapted for directors and editors are used for their multichannel productions.
Journalists also had to adapt and change the programmes’ narrative sequences; compared to mono or stereo recording; immersive sound recording requires less description of the location. Xavier Gibert (pictured), who is in charge of the RFI Labo production unit, said: “We will have a dozen tracks recorded simultaneously. Depending on the content and the location, we use an IRT cross or a double MS with spot HFs so why not native binaural recording.”
In the studio, metadata is retrieved in Pyramix and the elements are de-rushed and edited. A “bed” is created in 5.1 or 7.1 (basic direct sound mix) and then elevation and narration elements recorded in the studio are added before the final mix. The b<>com binauraliser is on the outputs [Render Spk2Bin] from b<>com *Spatial Audio Toolbox* that allows a multichannel audio 3D with virtual speakers approach.
“For the 360 VR we use the same method except that we have three binaural output buses, one bus with the b<>com plugin for our web platforms, another one with the Noisemaker bus for YouTube emulation and a final bus for the Facebook plugin,” Gibert explained. “The image is on a temporary VCube. We will soon be receiving a new VCube which will make it possible to read 360 files without reduction and to include the metadata during the wrap.”