Psst, did you hear that? Apparently, the folks at Dolby Laboratories are no longer content with scaring the bejesus out of moviegoers by simply funneling those horrific audio cues from today's standard theater setup. Instead, the mad audio scientists claim they can recreate a more lifelike and sensory audio experience by pushing sound from even more directions -- a feat made possible by the company's new Dolby Atmos technology. By leveraging up to 64 speaker feeds and 128 simultaneous audio inputs, for example, Dolby says it would be possible to more accurately recreate the sound of creepy footsteps coming from the floorboards of a higher floor. Yes, you could use the system to better simulate stuff like rain, too, but that doesn't sound nearly as fun as making hapless moviegoers pee their pants. Combined with Dolby's foray into 3D, it looks like the company's really focusing on kicking up viewer immersion. Dolby plans to debut the Atmos tech in 10 to 15 theaters showing Disney/Pixar's Brave this year, followed by a larger rollout by 2013. For more on the potentially bladder-busting technology, scope out the PR after the break.
Dolby Atmos Is the Future of Entertainment Sound
New Technology Revolutionizes Cinema Industry and Entertainment Experience
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- CinemaCon 2012-Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB) today announced Dolby® Atmos, a new audio platform that will change the experience of sound in entertainment. Launching in the cinema, Dolby Atmos delivers a more natural and realistic sound-field, which transports people into the story with a lifelike, sensory experience.
For the first time, Dolby Atmos introduces a hybrid approach to mixing and directs sound as dynamic objects that envelop the listener, in combination with channels for playback. Dolby Atmos enables adaptive rendering to ensure that the playback experience is as close as possible to the creator's original vision in any given environment, irrespective of the specific speaker configuration in the playback environment.
"Dolby Atmos is our most significant innovation in years and represents the future for entertainment sound in cinema," said Kevin Yeaman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dolby Laboratories. "We have leveraged our deep insights into how people hear and experience sound to empower filmmakers, studios, and exhibitors with new technology that transforms storytelling."
Dolby Atmos is an end-to-end solution that takes into account the entire content pipeline and brings together mixers, studios, and distributors to create dramatic improvements in the audio experience. The Dolby Atmos platform provides content creators with a new creative freedom to tell their stories. It simplifies movie distribution with a single universal package to deliver to audiences the full impact of the artist's intent, regardless of theatre configuration.
For Content Creators
Dolby Atmos delivers a new level of creative control to sound designers and mixers by marrying today's familiar channel-based mixing methods with the versatility of dynamic audio object-based mixing. The flexibility of object-based mixing provides total control over placement and movement of individual sounds or "objects" anywhere within a theatre environment.
"Dolby Atmos brings a completely new dimension to the motion picture soundtrack. To be able to move sounds anywhere in the theatre, and to also create environments that surround and excite an audience, is extremely powerful," said Mike Hedges, the Academy Award®-winning re-recording mixer at Park Road Post Production.
Dolby Atmos works with the same tools that sound designers and mixers currently favor, allowing them to efficiently create highly compelling content. Using descriptive metadata about how the audio should be played back, Dolby Atmos faithfully generates legacy 5.1-and 7.1-channel mixes automatically, thus saving valuable time during postproduction. Mixers can monitor and tweak these versions in real time and quickly switch between them to verify that everything plays as intended in all cases.
For Studios and Distributors
Dolby Atmos is designed to fit into existing studio workflows with minimal impact on the production schedule. It allows studios to author once and optimize playback everywhere, eliminating the need for multiple print masters. Distribution is simplified with a single Digital Cinema Package (DCP) master, which can then be faithfully rendered at playback in a way that is independent of channel count or speaker location.
"China Film Group takes a keen interest in the development of Dolby's new audio platform," said Chen Fei, CTO, China Film Group Corporation. "Our postproduction facilities are already well on the way for us to incorporate Dolby Atmos into our movies, and we plan to produce a movie this calendar year using the Dolby Atmos format."
Dolby Atmos uses information about the speaker layout and acoustic playback capabilities of the theatre to determine how best to render the audio, delivering consistent and optimized playback that will sound as close to the original artistic intent as is possible for that specific environment. Introduction of the Dolby Atmos platform to the industry offers a compelling, only-in-a-theatre experience to audiences.
"We have been working with Dolby for more than a year on this initiative, and we are very impressed with this new platform," said Dan Huerta, Vice President, Digital Systems, AMC Theatres. "A solution like Dolby Atmos takes an innovative and practical approach to cinema sound, rivaling anything the industry had been able to accomplish in a movie theatre environment."
"Wanda was among the first to hear the demo of Dolby Atmos," said Ye Ning, General Manager, Wanda Cinemaline Corporation. "The effect was excellent and it is a true breakthrough. We believe it will bring people a brand new moviegoing experience."
"We have been extremely impressed with the new Dolby Atmos platform and the truly stunning extra dimension it offers to filmmakers and audiences," said François Ivernel, Movie Producer and Chairman, Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé. "For a large cinema group like Gaumont Pathé, the scalability of the solution is a significant step for the industry. With auditoriums of different sizes, a format that can play back with such amazingly natural quality in any theatre environment is tremendously appealing."
Initially, Dolby will be focused on installing Dolby Atmos in a select number of premium global locations in the United States, Europe, China, and Japan, with plans for a larger rollout of Dolby Atmos in 2013.
Preparing for Dolby Atmos
With the ability to transmit up to 128 simultaneous and lossless audio inputs (channels or objects), and the ability to render from 5.1 all the way up to 64 discrete speaker feeds, Dolby Atmos introduces a completely new audio capability for exhibitors. The inherent scalability and adaptability of Dolby Atmos allows exhibitors to manage their budgets and upgrade cinemas over time, yet improve the experience for audiences at each step.
To effectively support precise positioning and movement of sound around the theatre, speakers must be individually amplified and support a wide frequency response and dispersion. To help exhibitors with their upgrades, Harman® Professional, a leading manufacturer of high-quality audio equipment, has been working with Dolby to design innovative and optimized solutions to simplify deployment of Dolby Atmos.
"After first previewing Dolby Atmos last year, we immediately recognized the tremendous potential," said Michael MacDonald, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Harman Professional. "Dolby Atmos is clearly the next-generation audio platform and will provide considerable performance advantages to our customers in the global cinema market."
Harman's JBL® Professional loudspeakers and Crown Audio® amplifiers and network technologies are the system of choice at many of the world's largest and most prestigious cinemas and theatre chains. Harman is deploying this experience and its category-leading engineering capabilities to design a host of specialized powered loudspeakers to capitalize on the innovations of Dolby Atmos. In doing so, Harman Professional will enable filmmakers and exhibitors to provide their customers with a more immersive cinematic experience.
Learn More About Dolby Atmos
Exhibitors interested in preparing theatres for Dolby Atmos can read the PDF white paper's, "Dolby Atmos: Cinema Technical Guidelines" and "Dolby Atmos Next-Generation Audio for Cinema."
To learn more about Dolby Atmos, visit dolby.com/Atmos. To share an educational video on Dolby Atmos, visit: https://vimeo.com/40699179.
Dolby's CinemaCon 2012 virtual press kit is available at dolby.com/news.
About Dolby Laboratories
Dolby Laboratories (NYSE:DLB) is the global leader in technologies that are essential elements in the best entertainment experiences. Founded in 1965 and best known for high-quality audio and surround sound, Dolby creates innovations that enrich entertainment at the movies, at home, or on the go. For more information about Dolby Laboratories or Dolby technologies, visit www.dolby.com.
Dolby and the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners. S12/25599 DLB-G