BROOKLYN — Sound design studio HenryBoy (www.henryboy.com), here, created the soundtrack featured in Gatorade’s virtual reality spot featuring Washington Nationals’ star, Bryce Harper. The Mill provided visual effects for the VR project, and Heard City handled the mix. Here, HenryBoy’s Bill Chesley details the process of creating the sound experience for this emerging format.
“I have a long history with The Mill,” says Chesley. “I’d been speaking with Mill’s executive creative director Rama Allen about sound implementation for VR for some time — particularly the potential of binaural recording within this context. The Gatorade project came up, and we both agreed that it would be a great test piece.
The Gatorade VR experience revolves around Nationals’ player Bryce Harper. “You basically become Bryce in the batter’s box,” explains Chesley. “To capture this aurally, I felt I needed to be on-location during the shoot with my binaural rig, consisting of Sound Professionals’ MS-TFB-2 binaural microphones and a Sound Devices 722.”
Chesley was given 30 minutes to record a Nationals pitcher, as well a catcher and an MLB umpire, from Harper’s position in the batter’s box.
“I stepped into the batter’s box with the mics in my ears, and had 95mph fastballs chucked at me — a bit intimidating! The results were amazing. The catcher was using a new mit, so the crack of the ball hitting the mit was amazing, as were the ump’s calls, which were soaked in all the natural reverb of the empty stadium.
“The perspective created by wearing the mics was exactly what I was after. I don’t think it would be nearly as immersive if I’d created it using the more traditional post production process of combining separate elements. The results put you in Bryce’s head.”
A Nationals/Yankees game preceded the shoot, and Chesley spent time walking around the stadium and recording lots of crowd perspectives binaurally. “I got some really nice, indigenous stuff — people screaming/chanting ‘Bryce,’ ‘Harp,’ etc., which connects you more with the experience.”
Library crowds, says Chesley, would have made it less experiential. “All additional sound design elements were handled by HenryBoy. The mix was done at Heard City. Cory Melious did a great job of making the sound work in what is basically a new audio frontier. It was an exciting experience, and HenryBoy looks forward to doing more VR in the future.”