Sound design team -> Activities -> Installations -> Jardin de la Plaine Mer (the Garden of the Plain - Sea)

The place


In a small garden which is located at the rear of the Mont Saint Michel.

From this garden, one has a really beautiful view on the bay.

Here is the map of the garden, with the loudspeaker and Cube locations.

Let's sum up : 2 Cubes & 2 classical stereos - and an additional subbass.
The place is interesting of acoustics, for the reason that the sound coming from the Cubes can be reflected on the wall above.

Apart from that, spatialization here is primarily based on phase stereo like effects - phase between the Cubes & the HP, and phase between the two Cubes. It is also widely based on intensity stereo like effetcs, which is indeed fortunate, because when there happens to be too much wind, which is quite often up there, phase stereo doesn't work at all.

The music


For this occasion, Louis Dandrel composed a twenty five minute long piece of music named "Le Jardin de la Plaine Mer".

This piece fits perfectly with the place and its ambience- and, sometimes, with the wind.
Above sustained harmonic pads ( diffused with the stereos and the Cubes in "volume approach" mode), rather percussive samples diffused with the Cubes in "reflection approach" mode. Most of these percussive samples are reflecting on the wall above.

Each sample was independantly mastered with multiband compressors and reverbs - this way, the music keeps its original volume regardless of any difficult atmospherical conditions that can arise near the ocean.

This piece was produced in three versions :

1. the Mont Saint Michel version : 2 cubes, 2 stereos
2. the Ircam version, for demo purposes - 1 cube, 1 stereo
3. plain stereo version


The stereo version


The stereo version was an attempt to simulate with two speakers the Cube specific phase effects in volume approach.

To achieve this, a particular technique was used : a binaural recording of a Cube in the studio, then translated to transaural using the "trans~" Spat™'s module.

Then, these transaural files were edited and mixed along with the stereo parts, and the result adapted to standard stereo conditions.

Well, that was the theorical course. Actually, the "trans~" module is not this good, and the method itself is not very reliable.
We ended up using a lot of additional reverbs in order to add depth to the stereo image, along to loads of automation points, these being partly to cover up the trans~ module weaknesses.

Following are a few extracts from the piece, in which all these methods seem to give a satisfying result.
Note that one must listen to these examples with the monitors in the normalized stereo position.

The first three extracts are alike - they are the piece's beginning, central section and ending. These extracts show what one could call the "A theme", musically speaking. They are all based on the same concept, which spatial translation on the Mont Saint Michel was : [ pads -> phase between the 2 stereos and the 2 cubes ] - [ solo percussive part -> reflection approach on Cubes ]

Extract 1 - beginning
Extract 2 - central section
Extract 3 - end

You'll need the Real Player plug-in to listen to these extracts
Please also note that bad ADCs (for instance. the G4's integrated audio output) can mess up with the signal's phase and therefore greatly lessen the localization / delocalization effects - that's the problem with such techniques...

The fourth extract consists in a widely phase based continuum. The first two seconds are quite convincing, assuming that the listener's monitoring system is not out of phase. At the Mont Saint Michel, the spatialization system was studied so that the "sweet spot" was not a narrow point, but a wide zone - some kind of a 3 meter * 6 meter rectangle.

Extract 4 - continuum

The last extract shows a clear example of the "solo Cube to stereo" translation - translation in terms of space. The percussive theme really seems to rotate in a virtual space, almost exactly as when a Cube is used. Now, the question is : is this space really 3D ? That was the original intention.

Extract 5 - fast spinning