(Edit: Rachel Pownall, Music: 'Pink Garden' by Joseph Smith)

Watershed and Real World Studios co-produced a 3 day Experimental Audio Camp, funded by MyWorld. The Camp hosted ten sound artists, selected through an open call, who were paired up and supported to create original works composed intentionally for a spatial system. 

The Experimental Audio Camp brought this cohort together with session musicians, producers, and audio engineers (all with awesome audio credits and experience) as well as Watershed producers. We were available throughout to support the participants with developing ideas, working through musical scenarios, vision and experimentation. Real World Studios had five spaces fully kitted out for sonic experimentation, recording and mixing. Imagine a huge amount of technical kit, multiple synths, pedals, microphones, binaural Dummy Heads, monitoring systems, acoustic and electrical instruments, d&b soundscape, 360 performing and monitoring kit and headphones wherever you look. Oh and many cables.

A collage of black and white photos of audio production equipment.

Credit: Stewart Baxter

The way that sound can be experienced and delivered has evolved significantly in the last 15 years and the Experimental Audio Camp had a particular emphasis on spatial audio. Systems such as Dolby Atmos, Apple Spatial and Sony 360 Reality Audio for example, go beyond the traditional stereo or surround sound setups and allow for a more 'immersive' sonic experience. 

These formats enable artists to position sounds in a three-dimensional space, creating a sense of depth, movement, and direction which might make people feel enveloped in the music, shift their perspective or stimulate different sensory responses. This opens up a world of possibilities for creative expression and pushes the boundaries of how music is conceived and consumed. Often music designed for stereo is converted into these formats - we wanted to understand what happens when you instead compose for and with them. 

We were totally awed and humbled by the beauty, warmth and ethos of all the cohort, collaborators and the Real World Studio experience, and impressed by the beautiful work that emerged.

‘It's so exciting to be able to explore spatial sound at the origin of the music-making process, rather than only once you’ve arrived at the mixing stage.’ EAC participant

A collage of photos of different people working in the Real World recording studios.

It was the first time Watershed and Real World had worked together like this, so we were learning about the format of the facilitation - which included guiding people through recording, production and post-production in often incompatible formats with a non-standardised vocabulary and lots of new relationships.

‘What excited me about the weekend was that for the dawning world of 3D sound creation, the EAC provided clear evidence of a developing language complete with vocabulary, grammar and syntax. Bringing the various technology players together (Dolby, D&B, Sennheiser and app makers) created a balanced and fertile landscape in which the musical collaborators could evolve common practices, particularly re-miking and spatial manipulation.’ Tim Oliver, Real World Studios

The three days were self-directed, but structured around listening sessions where we would all come together to play and feedback on people’s work in progress. Days would typically span from 08.30 – 22.00 (with lunch & dinner breaks where we would have a proper pause and enjoy eating delicious food prepared by Real World’s in-house chef Jerome). Throughout each team could book in time with session musicians, mixing specialists, engineers and  facilities while also being able to bounce around ideas with all the staff  or ask for support. On the last day everyone mixed their track into a Dolby Atmos ADM file, which means that it is compatible for playing back in Dolby and other industry tools. 

‘The skills and curiosity of the cohort has been great and the experience has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and into new ways of thinking about my practice. It was also incredibly exciting to be experimenting with state-of-the-art tools to explore sound communication with a focus on using spatiality to create new listening experiences.’ EAC participant

On our final night, when everyone’s tracks were queued for listening in the Big Room, with its cathedral like features and beautiful window façade and we’re all in prime positions for full spatial experience, there was a real sense of togetherness and achievement. Regardless of what we were going to hear.

The pieces were brilliant and unique in style, form and aesthetic. Someone said that working like this felt like ‘embracing the space compositionally, like a sculpture.’ I guess that is a good description of 3D sound.

It was an immense experience to work in this way, a fine balance between utilising tech, creativity and musicality, all of which is not really possible without keeping collaborating with people at the centre of the whole process.

We are looking forward to seeing how everyone’s work will develop and we will meet again for a day of mixing and presenting some listening at the Dolby Screening Room in Soho in September. It is extremely exciting to anticipate how the artists on this camp will continue to embrace these innovations and what processes and experiences will come out of that for both creators and listeners.

Group photo in the Real World Studios Big Room of all the staff and participants.

Credit: York Tillyer

You can read all about the ten audio creatives and everyone else involved below:

A portrait of Jay against some shelves

Jay Auborn is a British musician, producer and sound artist.

His music fuses acoustic & electronic sound worlds creating what he terms augmented acoustic music.

A background in fine art informs his approach to sound and music, resulting in the use of bold conceptual frameworks at the core of each project.  

Equally at home when performing on a multitude of instruments as he is operating a recording studio, he has been able to combine creative and technical disciplines to produce countless albums, soundtracks and installations.  

A portrait of Alison against a window.

Alison Bown is a narrative sound designer currently working in video games and interactive audio. Recent credits include sfx design for As Dusk FallsThe Quarry and Far Cry - Rise of the Revolution. She has worked as a musician, community music facilitator, creative industries talent development consultant and - rather more randomly - is currently a lifeguard at Jubilee Swimming Pool in Knowle. The pool is the first in the country to be taken on by local people as part of a community asset transfer. Outside of sound, Alison swims long distances and studies biomechanics because movement is medicine.

A portrait of Marie in black and white sitting at a table

Marie Tueje is a sound designer, sound artist, working primarily in feature film, short film and documentary. She also creates original sound works, soundscapes and music, as well as collaborating with other artists on installations and other immersive projects.

In her narrative sound design work she has been keen to explore a language of non-literal and non-verbal sound that is absolutely unique to the film or project she is working on.
As a sound designer and sound editor for film and television Marie helps artists, filmmakers and storytellers create experiences that are memorable and meaningful.

A portrait of Alessio with blue and red dramatic lighting.

Alessio Festuccia is an electronic musician and sound professional specializing in bespoke sound design for films and art installations. His work features in award-winning documentaries and short films, using sound to enhance experiences and tell captivating stories in innovative ways. He has showcased his music at various immersive events, including a quadraphonic art installation at MAST Bologna and the Museum of Contemporary Arts of Rome, as well as the 360° AV immersive performance "Soundbath Experience" at BASE, in Milan. Alessio has released 8 albums across three electronic music projects (Tersø, Mr Everett, MCFdM) and launched his debut solo album as Alèfe in 2020. Currently, he works as a Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer, focusing on sound post-production for film and TV.

A portrait of Jo against a colourful psychedelic patterned background.

Joseph Smith is a composer working across film and television, record production and digital media. His creative practice ranges from electronic beats and contemporary classical to experimental pop and dark funk - blending a background in computational arts with unconventional approaches to music production. 

A black and white close up portrait of Duncan's profile.

Duncan Speakman

Duncan Speakman is an artist and composer working with mobile audio and locative media. Since 1999 he has been creating narrative experiences that engage audiences emotionally and physically in uncontrolled spaces. From intimate in-ear stories to large scale performances, his award winning projects range from sound installations on Guangzhou tram networks and loudspeaker symphonies in Christchurch, to performative audio walks in Saitama and radio works for the BBC. His recent audio augmented reality project ‘Only Expansion’ won Best Immersive/XR experience at London Film Festival and the Special Jury award for Immersive Non-fiction at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam. He recently completed his PhD on the temporal composition of augmented reality. 

A portrait of Liza against a blue sky, holding a shawl in the wind and a roborecorder.

Liza Bec is an innovative contemporary composer, performer, producer and author. They were awarded the cross-disciplinary Fusion Fund by Help Musicians UK and built their own instrument, the roborecorder, which is on display in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Liza created audiovisual multimedia EPs INNERVATE and Beyond the Blonde. They co-wrote ‘Spinning Dance’ with acclaimed electronic artist James Holden and worked as Assistant Musical Director under renowned producer Kuljit Bhamra and composer Yu-Peng Chen on the Genshin Impact 3.0 soundtrack. 

Liza holds degrees in geology and medicine. They currently produce original serial fiction podcast Spiral Dial.

A portrait of Stewart in high contrast black and white.

Stewart Baxter is a neurodivergent musician, composer, photographer and designer based in Hull, East Yorkshire where he plays drums in the international touring band LIFE as well as working within community arts across the UK. Stewart has embraced the underground creative community for over 20 years working as an Arts and Talent Development Manager before recently set up his own company Hinterland Creative bringing creative projects and people together. Stewart has been supported by Absolutley Cultured, Sound and Music, Arts Council England and Help Musicians UK to create new work exploring a new direction in experimental composition. 

A portrait of Jake in colour against a grey backdrop.

Jake Spurgeon has been playing music for over 25 years and had a keen interest in music technology from an early age. He plays bass guitar and synthesisers in Ishmael Ensemble, and have played live electronic music across Europe, America and Mexico in the past few years. He composes his own music, sometimes for moving image and has worked in audio post production. He’s always been fascinated with spatial audio in multi-speakers setups and has performed with Eurorack and Ableton on a D&B Soundscape system. He is a keen collaborator and also enjoys learning topics in depth including Max for Live and modular/granular synthesis when working alone.

A black and white portrait of Natalia's reflection in two mirrors split in the middle.

Natalia Mamcarczyk (aka Walya) is a Poland born, UK based sound artist, composer, producer and DJ. Her creative practice focuses on use of field recording, soundscape composition, and exploring the subject of identity. Currently a lecturer at dBs Institute and finalising MSc at University of Huddersfield, she is focusing on research into immersive audio environments, encoding systems, and binaural sound to inform her academic and artistic practice.

In the use of sound she believes in a strong purpose of improving our human condition through interaction with art, questioning the boundaries of compassion and inviting society to (sometimes) uncomfortable listening.

Some of the musicians/producers/industry advisors

Chris Hughes - Producer, composer, drummer

Hans-Martin Buff – Producer, Atmos mixer, engineer

Tim Oliver - Mixer, engineer and producer

Leslie Gaston-Bird – Engineer, producer and immersive sound specialist

John Baggott - Piano, keyboards, synths

Nicole Fermie - Singer, guitarist and writer

Stuart McCallum - Guitarist

Howey Gill - Drummer and composer

Myles Clarke - Dolby Laboratories

Alex Watts and Jack Page - D&B Audiotechnik

Real World Engineering Team

Katie May - Head Engineer
Bob Mackenzie - Studio Engineer
Louis Rogove - Studio Assistant
Faye Dolle - Studio Assistant

Watershed & Bath Spa University Team (Immersive Audio Network)

Vanessa Bellaar Spruijt - Watershed / Pervasive Media Studio
Lawottim Anywar - Watershed / Pervasive Media Studio
Jo Lansdowne - Watershed / Pervasive Media Studio
Ruth Farrar - Bath Spa University, Immersive Audio Network
Rachel Pownall - Bath Spa University


The Experimental Audio Camp was part of the MyWorld IDEAS programme, funded by UKRI. Read more about MyWorld. MyWorld is funded through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) ‘Strength in Places fund’.  

Main Delivery partners: University of Bristol, University of the West of England, University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Digital Catapult, Watershed, Aardman Animations, Lux Aeterna, Esprit Film and Television, Bristol Old Vic and Opposable Games.