Immersive & Inclusive
Start date: 2020
End date: 2023
Immersive audio is a creative approach to sound that is becoming increasingly popular with cinema formats such as Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D; home streaming through Over the Top Television devices (Apple TV, Roku); video games and virtual / augmented / mixed reality platforms (Oculus, HTC Vive), and even music streaming platforms with the introduction of Dolby Atmos for Tidal. In response to this burgeoning acceptance of immersive sound reproduction for home entertainment, companies and institutions of higher learning around the world that have developed immersive sound curricula in order to train content creators. However, in laboratories, studios, and the classroom there is a noticeable lack of representation. In fact, this lack of representation has been demonstrated to be more prevalent for women in immersive audio (1) than in more established industries such as music, sound for film and television, radio, and video games. People of color are also noticeably underrepresented (2).
In this project, the following research questions will be studied in order to inform and build a curriculum for teaching immersive sound design that can be adopted as a certificate or a degree program with the goal of reaching a diverse body of students:
- What are the barriers to entry which exist in immersive audio, and are those barriers similar to ones found in other audio industries?
- What is the current social context in which we find these barriers in immersive audio in particular?
- How will the work described in this dissertation remove or reduce these barriers for underrepresented students of immersive audio?
- Is there a measurable, qualitative difference between established programs in immersive audio and the one described here?
- Does this immersive audio curriculum adhere to best practices in pedagogy for immersive audio?
The research will include industry-based research into diversity and inclusion, examination of the best practices for working with immersive sound, and a review of similar, media-based programs aimed at underrepresented groups. The methodology for measurement will include the design and deployment of short courses on immersive audio aimed at these groups, which will include qualitative work (observations, surveys). The strategy shall include:
- Documenting the societal context contributing to a lack of representation and establishing the importance of the course in the field through:
- Literature Review
- Literature Review
- Researching immersive workflows and “best practices” (as defined in the next section) with
- Technical document summaries
- Documenting the building of an immersive sound lab with additional consideration of remote learning solutions to increase accessibility, including the justification and rationale for its design.
- Developing and delivering courses targeted to student groups both within the IoSR at the University of Surrey and with underrepresented groups of students from outside of Surrey.
- Through surveys, providing a quantitative and qualitative examination of the effectiveness of the courses.
- Comparing the results in (5) with concurring D&I programmes in other audio industries.