G100 Development story
3 : Pursuing sound quality with the microphone optimized for vlogging
Hello, my name is Tsutsumi and I am the LUMIX G100 project leader.
The G100 is a new model that is geared towards people called vloggers. In order to find out the needs of our new customers, we first visited vloggers and creators around the world and conducted interviews with them directly.
Among them, the requests that we received the most were “a compact and lightweight body” or “high sound quality”. With vlogs, the subject’s speaking voice and the environmental sound that conveys the atmosphere of the location are important, but we also received conflicting needs such as “not being able to convey things clearly with the camera’s microphone performance” and “when an external microphone is attached, it is difficult to shoot a vlog because it is too bulky”.
In order to further improve the video performance, LUMIX has been making efforts to improve its sound quality from before. So, I consulted with our acoustic designer Mr. Kasugai whether we could “record high quality sounds like an external microphone with only a built-in microphone in the camera,” and we began developing this “new directional microphone”.
Hello, my name is Kasugai and I am in charge of the acoustic design of the G100.
The first challenge in development was the “position of the microphone”. Positioning the microphone properly is important in order to maximize acoustic performance. However, we didn’t have enough space to freely position the microphone with the G100, which had a built-in flash in its compact body.
That is when we directed our attention at “OZO Audio”. “OZO Audio” is a speech processing technology of Nokia, who are known throughout the world for their mobile telephones, and one of its features is that it can perform with any microphone position. Furthermore, by freely controlling the sound collection directivity, you can record sounds of a targeted location. This function perfectly suits vlog shooting, which is the concept of the G100, and we were convinced that it could solve the issues faced by many vloggers. So, we started considering to introduce this technology.
With standard digital cameras, the left and right sounds are expressed with two microphones, but the G100 is equipped with three microphones to enable it to express the front, back, left and right sounds. By adding the “OZO Audio” technology to this, it has become possible to freely control the 360° sound collection directivity.
Next, the issue became, “how to get customers to use it”. The triple microphone and “OZO Audio” enabled a more flexible sound collection control, but being able to use it easily was also important.
So, we first assumed the usage scenes of the vloggers and added several presets. These were “surround”, “front” and “narration”. We also worked on developing “tracking” to clearly record the voice of a person speaking, as well as “auto” to automatically switch between tracking and surround depending on the subject. This was the world’s first technology that was realized by combining the facial recognition technology cultivated over many years with LUMIX.
However, when we actually tried to operate it, we found that there were cases where the high tracking performance created a sense of discomfort. For example, the mode switched when the subject turned around for just an instant, which resulted in the sound changing. So, we devised an algorithm to balance performance and natural hearing, and implemented field tests in various environments. By repeating tuning, we were able to realize a natural way of hearing with reduced discomfort.
As a result of pursuing “what a good sound is” for the customer, we have prepared five sound collection modes with the G100. I believe that these effects can be experienced in various situations.
Please experience “the joy of replacing a microphone” in the same way as you would replace a lens.
G100 Development Story