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Sharing narratives through shared spaces: Intelligent immersive audio for real-time interactive networked performance


Department of Electronic Engineering

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Dr H Daffern No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

New paradigms for online interactive performances in the live performing arts offer incredible potential for immersive and engaging theatrical and musical experiences from the comfort of one’s living room. Systems that enable ‘real-time’ interaction across networks (such as Zoom) are now in common use but often have a delay that makes spoken conversations difficult and live music-making impossible. Moreover, these systems focus on speech intelligibility and provide no sense of a shared space between users. This is hugely problematic where any form of live narrative delivery requires interaction between the performers, such as in theatre and Opera.

This PhD project will bring together the challenges of networked system latencies and interactive audio for virtual and augmented realities to enable the creative and expressive use of remote collaboration of performers in real and imaginary spaces in realtime. Building on the existing work of the AudioLab on virtual choirs, the student will develop and test a new tool for interaction in real-time over a network in a dynamically changing immersive audio environment controlled by various factors, including performer and audience preference, narrative, and physical location.

This project is a collaboration between the University of York Department of Electronic Engineering AudioLab (https://audiolab.york.ac.uk/) and Opera North, through the XR Stories AHRC Creative Cluster R&D Partnership (https://xrstories.co.uk/). The successful candidate will study in the Department of Electronic Engineering AudioLab at the University of York supervised by Helena Daffern and Gavin Kearney, and work with Opera North and their education partners.

The successful applicant should have a strong interest in sound, music and immersive audio technology, experience in the implementation and testing of networked music performance systems and good programming skills. Experience or interest in subjective experiments, and a basic understanding of statistics and machine learning would also be beneficial.

Candidates must have (or expect to obtain) a minimum of a UK upper second-class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Music Technology or a related subject and would ideally have a masters degree in a related area.

This PhD is due to start 1st November 2020.

How to apply:
Applicants must apply via the University’s online application system at https://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/apply/. Please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process. To apply, please select the PhD in Electronic Engineering or Music Technology. Please specify in your PhD application that you would like to be considered for this studentship.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the tuition fee at the home/EU rate (£4,407 in 2020/21) and a stipend at the standard research council rate for a period of up to 3 years (£15,285 in 2020/21). International (non-EU) candidates are also welcome to apply but will be required to pay the difference between the UK/EU and international tuition fee rates (approximately £17,000 per year for the duration of the programme).
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