“Would you like some cashew milk with your tea?” Oliver asked, as I stepped into the studio behind the Immersive Audio Podcast.
Oliver Kadel invited me to his studio near Bow, London. The area is East London through-and-through; brick buildings, bicycle sheds, and a sense of creative levity where people are working hard to achieve their aspirations.
Oliver’s studio is two-tiered with computers and monitors littering the room, with microphones poking out in the middle of desks. The place was hot, and we perched near fans to stay cool. No VR headsets were in sight.
Oliver works on the Immersive Audio Podcast, the only podcast that focuses on audio in immersive media (VR, AR, ME, and 360). Started two years ago, the podcast taps into a niche yet important area of immersive reality that impacts everything from gaming to filmmaking. Oliver himself is bubbly and warm, keen to talk about what he has heard and what is happening in the sector.
I left the interview inspired and happy. A lot of work goes behind podcasts, and Oliver’s dedication to deep-insight pieces are essential for everyone to absorb. It also shows how far a team can go with a great idea that helps a community.
Why did you start the Immersive Audio Podcast?
An excellent question! I was on a beach in Frinton in Essex, and suddenly I had this new podcast idea. I frantically put notes on the phone on what it would be like and what people I would interview. The podcast came from nothing to as clear as day the week after. And yeah it was easy to come up with; ‘Immersive Audio Podcast’, you know?
I think it’s a personal desire to learn more by talking to different people and asking different questions. And also to share what I had learned and experienced as a professional in the industry over the years — showing my ideas and thoughts. And it is a great way to connect with people as well. If you email an academic to ask for a phone call, it won’t happen. But if you have an interview on something they are genuinely passionate about, then it’s excellent. These are the core reasons that inspired me.
When it all kind of started in the revolution in VR, the information on anything was scarce, so a lot had to be figured out and going to forums. Having this resource that collects valuable information and shares it back feels like a great thing to do. We take the info and then share it. And it worked out, as people learn things from podcasts, like special recording techniques or workflows in game engines.
How does your podcast currently work?
Right now, we are exploring two to three formats. The majority of episodes are one-to-one interviews with myself and other guests. The second is where we dive deep into a particular topic. The third we go to events to interview people at a studio to record a panel etc.
But we don’t want to be too strict with our format, and we shape it for the guest. We could bring it to studios or guests, or in our in-house studio, but we are pretty flexible.
What’s it been like running the podcast?
It’s been fun, and I think I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met some incredible people I am in touch with, and industry friends and going to events.
But it’s also been difficult because podcasts, despite being relatively straightforward, take a lot of thought and preparation. So it’s been… it needed proper love and attention over time.
And as we hadn’t done anything like this before, we wanted to work out ways of running the podcast. We nailed our mission statement from day one, but the more detailed approach was figured out organically as we went along. So we tried different things and tweaked it. Now we are ready for our next phase, to make our podcast even more interesting by changing the format slightly and having more core presenters and contributors, perhaps with new segments and formats. We might see some one-to-one interviews on podcasts and topics. So we would like to continue the experimentation on how to do even more exciting stuff from there.
Which guests have been the most memorable?
I think the most memorable episode that we did generally was the most recent one, called Audio for Augmented Reality. The reason is that it took the longest to produce, and it also meant that we did multiple interviews with different people at different times for various companies, and we needed to focus on a narrative. Inevitably the level of concentration is very different, and therefore it has been the most memorable I would say.
How do you see the Immersive Audio Podcast evolving in the future?
Ultimately, we would like to continue bringing value to the community by making episodes even more regularly, maybe being able to produce more episodes of a documentary style. We want to engage with the wider XR community and explore not only topics on audio but also adjacent disciplines that are critical components typically used alongside audio, and explore how they interact with different disciplines. We would also like to cover events to bring the coverage from single locations to a broader audience that cannot come along in person.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
Editor, Virtual Perceptions