dBs Pro, dBs Institute's in-house creative studio, which provides work experience opportunities for our students, has had a cracking 2023. As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the best projects Jay and the team have been working on.
This year, dBs Pro has provided 87 unique roles to students across 29 projects - one of the best years we’ve ever had for providing our students with real-world industry opportunities.
With everything from album mixes, game development, augmented reality and live performance projects, this year has shown the breadth and depth of work that students can get involved in at dBs Pro.
Sowenna Sounds is an album of brand-new music that was written and performed by the young people at the Sowenna Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Bodmin and released earlier this year. The album is a rich collection of experimental, heartfelt and thought-provoking music that allows the young patients of Sowenna to express themselves artistically.
Talking about the project, Jay said, “We all know that music can be powerful and in some cases change people's lives, but having access to instruments and the confidence to pick one up isn't always within reach. During the making of this album, we worked with young people who, in some cases, had no previous experience with music and sound creation. Using simple-to-operate and affordable technology, we helped remove the entry barriers for engaging with a creative practice, in this case, music and sound art. It was a privilege to have been involved with the project and see first-hand the enormous benefits playing with sound and music can have for young people dealing with so much in their lives.”
Emanuele Perrone, a student who was involved in the project, said it was “amazing” to be part of the project and that being able to contribute to the well-being of the inpatients through music was, “so fulfilling.”
The Kraken Wakes
The Kraken Wakes, an innovative new game that was released earlier this year and features a ground-breaking AI-powered conversation engine, has been a long-running project for dBs Pro. As part of this project, Jay and his team of students and alumni created an “emotionally adaptive score” that changes dynamically based on the choices of the player and the subsequent changes in mood.
Speaking to The Kraken Wakes team about the score Jay said, “Central to the whole vision for The Kraken Wakes is the player’s ability to influence the characters’ emotions, decisions, and relationships, all through what they choose to say. Our Emotionally Adaptive music system means that these player-directed changes of mood are also reflected dynamically in the soundtrack of the game… In terms of composition, the Emotionally Adaptive audio system adds an extra layer of complexity, because several different pieces of music have to be developed for each theme. A theme might have three different emotional variations – negative, neutral, and positive – and as many as ten different variations of rhythmic intensity corresponding to the “arousal” spectrum – how intensely a positive or negative emotion is being felt. To enable continuity between these variations, we had to think very carefully about pace, key, instrumentation and timbre, to make sure that each theme could change seamlessly from one emotional state to another.”
Bristol Old Magistrate’s Court
This summer, dBs Pro won a pitch to work with Creative Youth Network on their redevelopment of Bristol’s Old Magistrate’s Court. As part of that project, they have been working on an augmented reality, interactive guide which allows visitors to explore the unique heritage of the site.
Creative Youth Network’s redevelopment will provide a space for young people to access opportunities within the creative industries. The Courts, after the redevelopment is complete, will house a co-working space, meeting spaces, events spaces and a visitor experience to explore the heritage of the building - the digital heritage experience.
Unlike traditional audio guides, the digital heritage experience will be interactive; adapting and triggering its content in real-time based on the user's position within The Courts and surrounding grounds. Areas, objects, movement and architectural features will be the trigger source for a variety of immersive digital content available for the audience to explore.
Discussing working with dBs Pro, the Head of Creative at Creative Youth Network said, “Getting to work with dBs Pro in this capacity is extremely exciting. As an organisation that works with young people aged 11 – 25 years old through creativity and youth work, we signposted young people interested in digital technology, creativity and music onto the courses at dBs, yet never have we had the opportunity to work with their graduate alumni and Pro team. In working with dBs in this way, we at Creative Youth Network are able to include and engage even more emerging young creative industry professionals in the development of our new creative enterprise hub, The Courts.”
‘The Rope’ is a new interactive experience coming to living rooms around the country through Sky Live - and dBs Pro has been at the helm of creating its immersive sound world.
Commissioned by Sky and XR Stories, ‘The Rope’ is a game that embodies Charisma’s mission to harness the power of AI to deliver interactive experiences for players. After the successful release of 'The Kraken Wakes' - mentioned previously - ‘The Rope’ is bringing the same vision and technology to a brand new audience.
Jay said about working on the project, “The sound design used advanced spatial audio processing and techniques to create a realistic 360° underwater environment. Our work for The Kraken Wakes and our recording experiments with hydrophones really helped inform this process as to how the sound is perceived underwater and what happens to spatial cues.”
As, “The largest community of inclusive ensembles in the UK, in partnership with Music Education Hubs and special schools", the dBs Pro team couldn’t wait to work with Open Orchestra and Three Ways School to record and mix their performance of ‘Rainbows’.
Working in tandem with one of our sister higher education institutes Screenology, dBs Pro recorded and mixed the audio of the Three Ways School orchestra's original piece 'Rainbows'. This performance was live-streamed at an annual Open Orchestra conference and turned into a short film about the benefits of Open Orchestras for students at special schools.
“Open Orchestras are an inspiring organisation, it was great to work with them and the young people,” says Benny Turner, a dBs Institute alumni who worked on the project, “I got a lot out of working with dBs Pro. Jay is amazing and a very relaxed guy which makes things a lot easier. Everyone on the team was friendly, knowledgeable and autonomous in their roles during the day.”
At dBs Institute, one of the things we pride ourselves on is our drive to be ahead of the game and provide our students with the most innovative technology so they have a head start on the competition when they graduate. The most recent embodiment of that ethos is our new Dolby Atmos mixing suites which have now been installed at all three of our campuses.
dBs Pro has also been getting involved in Dolby Atmos! Jay, alongside fellow dBs Institute staff member Natalia Mamcarczyk (aka Walya), were both invited to take part in the MyWorld-funded Experimental Audio Camp project, which was set up to create new innovative works and skills in spatial audio.
This project was supported by dBs Pro and dBs Institue by allowing participants of the Experimental Audio Camp to use the Bristol Atmos room for mixing tweaks before the final showcase in London.
As part of our ongoing relationship with MyWorld and the Immersive Audio Network, dBs Institute and dBs Pro are becoming key parts of the developing immersive audio community that has found a home in the West of England.