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|Musical recordings have been generally ignorant of the listener. The
producer creates a static mix that optimizes the listener's initial experience of
the piece. Thereafter the piece is stagnant, producing the same experience
every time. Additionally, the production is created for an optimal
listening environment, which the listener seldom has available.
Audio simulation through digital computation provides technologies to include the listener in the listening experience. First, audio simulation can entirely synthesize the listening environment, making it optimal for every experience. Second, audio simulation can react to the listener, not only conforming the aural environment, but the content as well. The result is that no two experiences of the piece are identical, and that the listener has some control to optimize for their listening pleasure. While this does not replicate the live performance, where the artist and audience work together to create a unique experience, it is definitively an innovation in that direction.
One of the principal components of audio simulation technologies is the application of the head-related transfer function (HRTF) to a monaural sound stream to produce a binaural pair yielding synthetic cues to directionality of a sound to a listener. The HRTF, however, is only the last piece of a very complex simulation of sound waves' emission from a source and their propagation around and through an environment. In creating their audio simulation technology AuSIM3D®, AuSIM pushed the technology in three areas.
InTheMix employs AuSIM's AuTraktm software, which generically supports most popular 6D (six-degree-of-freedom) tracking systems of various electromagnetic, visual, inertial, and ultra-sonic technologies. In development, InTheMix has used Polhemus Fastraktm electromagnetic instrumentation coupled with the Polhemus LongRangertm transmitter. At Siggraph 2000, the InTheMix team may partner with any of several tracking suppliers to demonstrate their leading-edge technology.
InTheMix represents a Point Of Departure for listeners, for artists, and for active participants. It encourages collaboration by bringing people together to share experiences in natural ways. It also promotes mobility by maintaining high-fidelity interaction from remote locations. And, it challenges humans to use more of their senses in this increasingly dominant and overwhelmed visual world. Finally, it employs an artificial life, giving artists a proxy for delivering their art. Many more applications of the technologies that make InTheMix are in our future.
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