A new digital audiobook by J K Rowling was launched in a "groundbreaking" audio experience yesterday (15th March).
Quidditch Through the Ages, narrated by Andrew Lincoln, has been made available in audio for the first time. Two hundred listeners attended the event which saw guests immersed in a first-of-its-kind 360-degree sound experience soundscape at the London Symphony Orchestra venue, St Luke’s.
Seated in the St Luke’s atrium, the public were "transported to the heart of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup Final through a one-off audio spectacular", said the organisers. Match commentary from the Daily Prophet’s Quidditch correspondent, Ginny Potter (narrated by Imogen Church), and Rita Skeeter (narrated by Annette Badland), echoed around the venue as the sounds of "whizzing Snitches, whooshing Quaffles and the buzz of racing brooms" darted from all four corners of the room.
Everyone in attendance received a bespoke listening experience, with no two parts of the venue sounding the same, thanks to the specially created rig of 38 speakers. Adapting bonus content from the Quidditch Through the Ages audiobook – first written by Rowling for pottermore.com – Pinewood Studios’ team worked with sonic reality innovators Kinicho using real objects, spatialised sound and Kinicho’s patented Sympan Scene-Scale technology to create a vivid Wizarding World through sound. These sounds were then meticulously matched with a web of bespoke lights and LED bulbs to create striking visual effects that mirrored the sounds of the match.
Garry Haywood, co-founder at Kinicho, said that working with the "exceptional audio" from the book gave the team a "fantastic palette to enter the magical sonic reality of the Wizarding World".
He continued: "Being able to build the biggest system of its kind ever used in UK, using the latest, bespoke 360-degree sound experience aural technology that we've created, resulted in this once in a lifetime audio experience that we’re delighted the public got to enjoy."
Meanwhile, Ravina Bajwa, commissioning editor, audio, at Pottermore Publishing, said the event saw a "wonderful fusion of technology and creativity".
"Through the use of ambisonics and rigging technology, the Quidditch Through the Ages audiobook evolved into an enthralling 360-degree sound experience where sounds took on additional layer of physicality within the stunning setting of St Luke’s. It has been a brilliant experience working with Audible and our sound design partners to bring this Wizarding World bestseller to life", said Bajwa.
Pottermore will make a proportion of the proceeds from this audiobook available to Comic Relief, and Rowling’s own international charity Lumos.