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02.19.2014 - The AMD Tech that Brought “Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra” to Life

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SH1.jpgAt last year’s CES (2013), AMD showcased “Surround House 1,” a novel yet technologically advanced emonstration of graphics, display, and most importantly, positional audio. The spectator stepped into a house with 10 HD displays serving as windows and 32.4 speakers hidden from view embedded in the house walls. The net effect was a diametrically opposed interpretation of the story that unfolded based on whether the audio was presented as stereo or as 32. 4 (DDMA enabled) positional audio. It was a new art form and it really highlighted what AMD technology could do.
SH2.jpgNow flash forward to CES 2014. The challenge to “raise the bar” was made: make the demonstration more interactive, more immersive, and showcase all the unique goodness that “Kaveri” offers. There was also the objective to make both the experience and underlying technology relevant to consumers. The response was to build an immersive 30’ diameter dome with hidden 32.4 speakers in three rings at different heights, and most impressively, controlled by the world’s first 3D by 360 degree gestures.  “Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra” was born.

In the demonstration, 19 animated monsters are playing musical instruments located in varying positions around the dome. The individual sound being played by the respective monster is perfectly synchronized with the animation. A live conductor controls all monsters via gesture, regardless of where they are in the dome. Controls such as stop, resume, all stop, play louder, play softer, move to another location, etc. were all functional. The monsters reacted to the conductor’s commands and the audio associated with the action also manifested. For example, if the drummer was asked to play louder, the spectator would experience just the drums becoming louder. Similarly, if the drummer was asked to change positions with the flute player, the spectator would experience the sounds moving as the monster musicians moved in three dimensional space.
Hiding the visibility of highly-advanced technology from highly-entertaining experiences is always a challenge and successfully doing this for “Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra” was no different.  The entire demonstration was run on a “Kaveri” 3.7GHz APU with 32 GB system memory, and an AMD FirePro™ graphics card with 6 GB, Windows 8.1, and a 256 GB SSD HD.  The results were effective, polished and first rate, as if this was a theme park ride. From an R&D perspective, consider the specific challenge, the AMD technology required and the resolution of challenge below:



AMD Technology

Sustaining 11,520 x 1200 x 30 Hz real-time renderingAMD Graphics technologyAMD FirePro™ graphics card
Driving 6 projectors @ 1920 x 1200AMD Eyefinity technology driving HDMI dongles, which in turn split out to drive sets of audio amplifiers and projector inputsAMD FirePro™ graphics card
Edge blending of 6 projectors’ footprints to not see multiple projectorsCamera capture for projector calibration, fed into the AMD FirePro™ W9100 graphics card for perfect real time blending and gamma adjustmentsAMD FirePro™ graphics card
Converting 11,520 x 1200 rectangle to a hemispheric surface without distortionsConversion to a 1200 x 1200 x 1200 graphic cubeAMD FirePro™ graphics card
Driving 32.4 speakersDDMA from graphics card via DP to HDMI active dongles to HDMI splitter to audio amplifiers. Calibration tools integrated in the 3D engine Enables localization of musical instruments through 32.4 speakers being driven over HDMI x 6 outputs.AMD FirePro™ Discrete Digital Multipoint Audio
Acoustic challenges of domeOriginal equalization, panning and mixing algorithms optimized for each instrument sound and speaker position.“Kaveri”/TrueAudio Technology
Mapping a 71 piece orchestra to 19 animated monstersPanning and mixing offline Support for Fmod 3D + homemade audio panning, mixer and EQ for a 32 x 3 ring audio positional system.“Kaveri” X86 processor cores
Enabling positional audio of instrument to speaker originOriginal game engineAMD FirePro™ graphics card
3D x 360 degree gesture controlOriginal top down view depth sensor processing algorithm and port to HSAOpenCL (HSA) running on “Kaveri” X86 processor cores
Optimal listener position for audio positioning reference point, different from the game’s “camera” positionOriginal game engineOpenCL (HSA) running on “Kaveri” X86 processor cores


Reuse and RelevanceFinally, it should be noted that beyond the potential of branding the creative assets for future monster demonstrations, new cutting edge technologies developed for this demonstration added to AMD’s IP portfolio. Home grown value-add functionality was developed for ACP, “Kaveri,” HSA and AMD Eyefinity technology. Consequently, there was the derivative benefit of validating and “cleaning the pipe” of our freshest technology in ways that have not been contemplated or tested.
Many thanks to all those who supported making “Surround House 2: Monsters in the Orchestra” an entertaining and monstrous technical achievement.
Stay tuned for “Monsters in the Casino” playing interactive blackjack at the upcoming I.C.E. Totally Gaming conference in London.

Bill Herz is a Senior Fellow Design Engineer at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

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