Typically echolocation skills are very tailored to one's individual body, and that makes it hard to use on movies. Movies are typically not recorded with the kind of microphone setups needed to capture the behaviors properly. One might be able to cleverly reverse engineer some mic positions, but to use those skills inuitively, one needs to have recorded the original with something like this.
Tools like the 3Dio are designed to match the acoustic behavior of the average human head/ears. However, the results are typically only useful for headphones. If you intend your movie to be listened to over speakers, binaural recording devices like this are really difficult because they don't give much freedom as to what appears in each channel.
Even if you used a binaural recording device, you still would have trouble. See those squggly folds in your ear? They're not just for decoration. One of their effects is to "color" the sound differently, depending on what direction the sound comes from. The pinna, as it is called, along with your shoulders makes things sound different depending on which direction it came from. Your binaural recording would have to have a mold of your ears before this effect would be accounted for.
Think its a joke? Try this experiment with someone. I've had it work for me, and I'd love to have others try and report on the success.
- Find two spoons that you can clack together. Make sure you do not clack them together in the presence of your test subject. The goal is for them to do the first test without knowing what they're "supposed" to sound like.
- Have your test subject close their eyes.
- Clack the spoons together, and have them reach for where they believe the spoons actually are. Do this several times. If your results are like mine, you'll find they tend to get the horizontal direction rather correct, but they're often off in the vertical direction. This is because their ears can use timing differences between left and right ears to figure out left-to-right, but you can't do the same for up and down.
- Have the test subject open their eyes.
- Clack the spoons together in a few locations. They now get to hear the sound and see the correct angular information. They know their ears well enough that they can reverse the "coloring" of the sound and learn what the true sound of the spoons are.
- Have them close their eyes again, and repeat the test. They will likely reach directly for the spoons every time, because now they know what the spoons are "supposed" to sound like, and they can compare that to the colored sound they hear to figure out where the spoons are.
I've done this experiment, with uncanny results. It indeed does appear that one can hear with one's eyes! It just shows how much more information goes into our heads than we think does!