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Aalto student team won gold at the 6th European Students 3D audio competition

Pietari Nurmi, Kamila Kondraciuk, Mia Savo and Teodors Kerimovs won the gold medal in the Audio Drama / Documentary / Soundscapes category. The winning project was the Spatial Audio Book "Hansel and Gretel".
Aalto team Pietari Nurmi, Kamila Kondraciuk, Mia Savo and Teodors Kerimovs
Photo: the Verband Deutscher Tonmeister*innen (VDT)

A team of four Aalto University students — Pietari Nurmi, Kamila Kondraciuk, Mia Savo and Teodors Kerimovs — won the gold medal in Category 2: Audio Drama / Documentary / Soundscapes at the 6th European Students 3D audio competition. The winning project was the Spatial Audio Book (fairy tale) "Hansel and Gretel" which could be called a proof of concept for spatially mixed audiobooks.

The competition is a cooperation of the Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik der Kunstuniversität Graz (IEM) and Verband Deutscher Tonmeister (VDT), and this year for the first time also with the ORF musikprotokoll. The fourth partner is the FH St. Pölten, on whose Audio Mostly the semi-finals took place. The award ceremony took place on Saturday, October 8 in Graz, Austria as part of the ORF musikprotokoll festival.

The team describes the winning project and its background:

“In recent years the popularity of audio books, podcasts and other forms of audio-based storytelling have skyrocketed. In this production, we wanted to add an extra dimension to auditory storytelling using spatial audio techniques, sound design and music. This is a proof-of-concept of a 3-dimensional ambisonics audiobook.

We used the famous children’s story 'Hansel and Gretel' from the Grimms' Fairy Tales, and adapted it into a five-minute audio drama. We recorded narrator and dialog parts, designed sound effects, and composed original music to serve the story. These audio elements were then spatialized and mixed in 5th order ambisonics to create 3D immersive sound scenes for the story. The piece was mixed in Reaper using IEM and SPARTA spatialization tools. The mix was first drafted in a home studio environment, and later finalized at Aalto Immersive sound studio using a multi-channel speaker system.

We are a multi-talented team coming from various fields of science and arts, but sharing the same passion for audio and storytelling. We are based in Helsinki region, in Finland, and connected by Aalto University. In fact, this piece was originally produced as a course work for “Immersive Sound” course here at Aalto University.

With this short piece, we want to show the potential of immersive audio as a storytelling device. Although this story is most effective when enjoyed through a multichannel loudspeaker system, ambisonics and binaural (bainoural) decoding have brought immersive audio closer to an average person than ever before. Consumer-level head-tracking headphones are becoming more and more affordable, which opens a whole new market for immersive audio content. This may be your first touch on an ambisonics audiobook, but will it be the last? We will see…”

The student team and their initial idea were formed as final project work in a course called Immersive Sound taught by Sebastian J. Schlecht, Nils Mayer-Khalen and Andrea Mancianti.

You can enjoy the story by visiting the Competition website.

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