Facebook Acquires 3D Audio Company

Facebook has acquired Edinburgh, Scotland-based spatial audio software developer Two Big Ears, rebranded the company’s immersive post production and mixing platform as the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation and released it as a free download.
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Menlo Park, CA (May 27, 2016)—Facebook has acquired Edinburgh, Scotland-based spatial audio software developer Two Big Ears, rebranded the company’s immersive post production and mixing platform as the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation and released it as a free download.

Two Big Ears, which was founded by University of Edinburgh graduates Varun Nair and Abesh Thakur in 2013, originally released 3Dception Spatial Workstation in late 2015. Available in a video game and a cinematic version, it offered a pipeline, from post production to rendering, that enabled users to “mix in 3D while also ensuring the mix reacts to the head movements of the user in real time.”

Although Facebook acquired Oculus in a $2 billion deal in July 2014 and both the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets are powered by Oculus software, Two Big Ears has reassured users that "we will continue to be platform and device agnostic" in its transition FAQ posted online. Industry commentators believe the acquisition of Two Big Ears could enable Facebook to build an in-house 3D engine for the Oculus VR platform. Oculus had previously been licensing a 3D audio engine from VisiSonics.

In a blog post dated May 23, 2016, Two Big Ears states that “our pipeline for cinematic VR and 360 video, including the authoring tools, encoder and rendering engine, is available for free.” The software is currently available only in a Mac version (OSX 10.7 or later).

According to a Spatial Workstation video overview uploaded in October 2015, the platform encompasses a plug-in suite enabling positioning of sounds in an immersive environment within DAWs including Pro Tools, Nuendo and Reaper. Sources may include tracks recorded with mono, stereo and Ambisonic microphones and arrays, music and other elements. Time-synchronized VR video allows content to be previewed on the device via the DAW. The renderer is said to support Android, iOS, Windows, OSX, HTML5 and game engines.

Current Spatial Workstation paid license holders can expect another 12 months of support, according to the transition FAQ. Plug-ins for the Unity game engine and FMOD and Wwise middleware audio engines will no longer be offered and 3DCeption for Games will no longer be available as a separate product.

Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation
facebook360.fb.com/spatial-workstation