Doctor Who Enters A New Dimension With Binaural Sound Mix
A Newport Grade 2 listed building is set to take a centre place in the action in a ground breaking episode of Doctor Who available on the BBC IPlayer from Saturday.
The Doctor Who production team recently returned to Fields House, which was built in 1860, in order for it to double as a new student accommodation for The Doctor’s companion Bill (played by Pearl Mackie). However, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has his suspicions about the mysterious looking house and its landlord (played by David Suchet).
Fields House is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who. It had been empty and in need of restoration when it made its debut back in 2007 in the episode Blink, which featured the first appearance of The Weeping Angels.
When looking for a new location for this Saturday's episode entitled Knock Knock, written by Mike Bartlett, Fields House was a natural choice as producer Nikki Wilson reveals. “Mike’s script was very specific about the journey through the house and how the rooms connected, he had a very clear idea in his head about this haunted house and we always thought it was going to be a challenge.”
To the Doctor Who production team’s relief, the filming only required the use of two locations and was split between Field’s House and another house in Usk. It was Field’s House however that provided the episode’s dramatic exterior scenes. “The outside of this house is so brilliantly creepy and gothic looking,” adds Nikki.
The return to Fields House coincides with another Doctor Who first, as Knock Knock will employ a binaural headphone mix for its soundtrack. Aimed at the sizeable audience who watch on-demand via tablets and mobiles, binaural gives viewers a natural, 3-dimensional surround sound listening experience in the listener’s headphones.
BBC Audio Supervisor Cathy Robinson explains “We did some comparisons in stereo and binaural. It was like “oh, wow, this opens it up! We found this gives (the sound experience) space and something extra. There’s an audience who use IPads, Phones and are watching on the go while using headphones. Now is the time to bring binaural technology to a mass audience while embracing headphone use.”
Attending a special binaural screening of the episode at Fields House, writer Andy Howells sampled first-hand the sound experience that viewers will be able to enjoy.
“It’s a suitably dark episode,” says Andy, “the strong gothic visual element of Fields House married with the binaural sounds of creaking floor boards and warming water pipes in the wall create a sinister undertone to the unfolding plot whilst adding an exciting new dimension to viewing a Doctor Who episode.”
- Doctor Who is broadcast at 7.20pm on Saturday on BBC One Wales with the Binaural version of the episode available to watch on BBC IPlayer shortly afterwards.