FocusBlur™ is a delicate psychoacoustic process that defocuses the signal of directional sources in soundscape or music material, producing a difficult to localize result with a subtle in-front focus, perfect for scene ambience, music, and non-diegetic material.
FocusBlur™ is the result of decades of working and experimenting with spatial audio. It came from reversing the process we use to create contrast between the correlated and uncorrelated parts of a signal with spatial information.
By reversing the spatial contrast of the audio material, we get a defocused version that is the equivalent of the blur effect in graphics.
Blur is used in graphics to move the background out of the viewer’s attention so that the graphic designer can direct the viewer’s attention to the important elements of the image. This is a common practice for backgrounds in photography, graphic design, game level graphics, and film.
In the same way, FocusBlur™ can be used in audio compositing for ambience loops, environmental background noise, drones/atmos, and even music material, to minimize spatial contrast and to move some material on the perceptual background, leaving more space for the important elements of the sound experience to grab the attention of the audience.
To get a good idea of how FocusBlur™ works, imagine that you want to create the soundscape for the scene shown in the pictures below. This could be a video game, a movie, or any media that combines audio and visuals.
You already have the sounds for the skateboard, and you want to add a loop for the background ambience. Possibly a loop with recordings from a park, with people walking around, talking, etc.
In general, the possibility to have the various recorded sources positioned in the place your visuals are is highly unlikely.
Your audience might hear more people on the right together with the seagulls, and if you turn that around, everything goes to the left, while in your visuals, the seagulls are on the right.
Your camera work, and even worst in games – the player’s free movement, will not match the movement of the recorded material, head-locked or not.
Also, many elements of the background noise are not important, not as much as the main subject’s Foley and any sounds that need attention.
By using material that is processed with FocusBlur™, for your background noise, you can easily give the character of the setting your scene takes place, surrounding the audience with all the sound elements, but without stealing the focus from the foreground sounds or having to care about combining the direction of the audio with the visuals.
You don’t have to care about any other details, drag-and-drop the background layers in your project and it will perfectly fit in your scene.
It’s that easy.
Having the background elements defocused to give your main subject the complete attention of the audience while maintaining enough detail that represents the background, is not a new thing. It has been used in the visual arts for ages. It’s called “contextual aesthetics”, and you can see it when the film director focuses on the main subject/character of the movie, while in games, you experience it in the form of what is called a “sky box,” not always containing just the sky. In visuals, the “depth of field” is one of the most used techniques or effects.
Processing the elements that you will use as the background of your sound composites through FocusBlur™, allows you to create an acoustic depth-of-field effect between your background and foreground sound elements.
That way, you psychoacoustically boost what matters the most in your storytelling. You are directing your soundscape as a director does with a visual scene.
Our brains already distinguish and classify information as important or unimportant every fraction of the second.
By using background ambience and music processed with FocusBlur™, together with any significant sounds added on top, you free your audience from the cognitive load by creating enough contrast between the focused and defocused layers of your audio, making the experience more engaging and boosting immersion.
Music is used in game and movie soundtracks as a non-diegetic layer and by using FocusBlur™ in your music tracks, you allow all the important layers of your audio to pop out, while at the same time, you surround your audience with music.
More advantages of using FocusBlur™ material are:
If you use our Sound Libraries, then you are in luck. Our Ambience Kits, Production Music, and Designed IRs libraries as well as any asset from other libraries that could benefit from a defocused version, include a FocusBlur™ version of the assets along with the original ones, so you can create the perfect acoustic background.
Suppose you are a sound library producer, a sound library publisher or store owner, or a stock media publisher. In that case, you can take advantage of FocusBlur™ to create alternative defocused versions of the content you produce or publish, adding value for your customers and a unique selling proposition to set you ahead of your competition.
We offer FocusBlur™ as part of our Immersive Audio services for both sound librarians and media producers. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more details on pricing and white-label options.
As a virtual, augmented, or mixed reality producer you already know how important is immersion, after all, you are working in the most immersive field of media.
By using our Sound Libraries to create the audio layer of the experience, you have access to the included version of the assets that have been made using FocusBlur™, making it easy for you to separate the background and the foreground elements of the sound.
In case you already have audio content, we offer FocusBlur™ as part of our Immersive Audio services, so we can create defocused versions for all the assets you would like to use as the background of your acoustic scene.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for more details on our services and our very accessible pricing.
Perhaps you are a software developer creating audio or media tools, embedded applications, or audio tools and music instruments (virtual or not), and you need to separate your audio content into background and foreground elements.
We offer FocusBlur™ as part of our Immersive Audio services, so we can create defocused versions for all the assets you would like to use as acoustic backgrounds.
Please get in touch with us to discuss options.
Suppose you are an audio producer or a production studio leadand you would like to offer FocusBlur™ as a service to your clients, creating a unique selling proposition that gets you ahead of your competition.
We can provide you with FocusBlur™ related services as a silent partner or an official affiliate.
Please get in touch with us to discuss options.