Feature: Dolby Atmos - Giving film soundtracks a new objective

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Steve Withers, Dec 3, 2012.

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    1. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      In the second Dolby article, Steve Withers takes a closer look at their revolutionary new sound system

      One of the main reasons for our recent visit to Dolby's facility in Royal Wootton Bassett was that the primary screening room is currently one of the few places in the UK where you can experience Dolby Atmos. What is Dolby Atmos?

      Read the full story here
       
    2. alextheg

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      Absolutely amazing. Sounds like Dolby may have really nailed it. Can't wait to experience Atmos. I'm curios how this will filter down into my living room though ?
       
    3. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Me too!
       
    4. alextheg

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      For me, the introduction of Atmos is far more important than say 3D. The improvement in sound technology such as Atmos will immerse the viewer far more .
       
    5. technoman28

      technoman28
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      Very interesting article, but a question that strikes me is, did you get the opportunity to sit in an area that wasn't in the sweet spot during any of the demo's? and if so, what was the experience like there?
       
    6. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      One of the reasons for having additional speakers along the entire length of the side and rear walls is to improve the experience for as many people as possible, regardless of where they are sat. Having said that I spent the whole demo sat at the control desk, so I can't actually confirm that.

      However I'm with Stanley Kubrick when it comes to going to the cinema, there are are usually only two seats worth sitting in and if I can't get one of those, I don't go.
       
    7. Dan201

      Dan201
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      It sounds good but what exactly is an 'object'? I understand they can move sounds around such as bullet shots but they will be present in the conventional 7.1 so what sound objects will actually be added?
       
    8. DTS MAN

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      Me too and horror films...no way!

      2 great articles. Thanks
       
    9. technoman28

      technoman28
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      I don't claim to know for certain, but I think it would be the ability to place a sound anywhere within the room, such as a helicopter above your head for example. I think it has been done to a lesser extent with multi channel audio, but this system would i imagine make it a lot easier and more accurate in making a sound tie in with the visual positioning of the image, and as Steve said the transition from front to back, (or vice versa), would be infinitely more realistic.

      I imagine it being an extremely immersive technology and can't wait to experience it.
       
    10. alextheg

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      That's about the way i understand it.

      Think of it this way, instead of squeezing all that sound into 5.1 / 7.1 ... you have 128 audio channels to mix with . Each sound getting its own channel , allowing the sound engineer to mix the audio much more precisely and with much better definition.
       
    11. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      That's correct, the way that soundtracks will ultimately be mixed is as a full Atmos mix from which they will render down the 7.1 'bed' but this will not include all the objects (sounds) used in the full Atmos mix. For example, the 'Unfold' trailer is an object-only mix with no 7.1 or 5.1 component at all, although most of the other demos I heard were 7.1 'beds' with additional objects on top. As I said in the article I first I heard the Rise of the Planet of the Apes soundtrack with just the objects playing and none of the 7.1 'bed' and then I heard it with the two combined.
       
    12. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Exactly, a helicopter did go over my head in the ROTPOTA clip and the clear and precise imaging combined with three dimensional steering was incredibly visceral. I obviously don't get many helicopters flying over my head in real life but I've been in plenty of thunder storms and the 'Rain' demo was staggeringly realistic. As I said in the article it transports you in a way that normal 7.1 surround just doesn't, you are no longer aware of sound effects, you're just totally immersed by the soundtrack.
       
      Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
    13. Dan201

      Dan201
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      So these extra sounds won't be heard in a cinema that doesn't have the upgrade. Pretty much means it can't be any significant sound as it will be badly missed.

      Unless i'm missing something, which I probably am.
       
    14. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Well I'm assuming all the sounds meant for the height speaker arrays will be lost in a normal 5.1/7.1 mix but rather than specific sounds, what you'll loose is the greater sense of dimensionality, the smooth pans and more precise steering and imaging. I'm seeing The Hobbit in a normal cinema on the 13th of December and at an industry screening on the 22nd which will be in Dolby Atmos, Dolby 3D and 48HFR, so that will give me a point of comparison.
       
    15. Dan201

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      Id love to hear your opinion on all the differences of those showings.
       
    16. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      After seeing the The Hobbit on the 13th (RealD, 24fps, 5.1) and then on the 22nd (Dolby 3D, Dolby Atmos and 48HFR), I'll write an article comparing all the different technologies.
       
    17. Doomlord_uk

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      I want to see how this is going to be used by game designers. I imagine the live processing requirements for DA sound tracks/sound effects will be prodigious and we might be waiting for next-next-gen hardware for this to happen at home (although PC sound cards could implement it anytime I guess?).

      I have to say, as with IMAX technology this may prove to be a reason to prefer going out to see a film rather than seeing it at home (if you have a good home cinema setup). Mostly I loathe going to cinemas - too many annoying people, crappy catering (if you're going to sell food, sell something decent ***) and volume levels that leave my ears ringing afterwards... But occasionally the art and the technology come together to make it all worthwhile. That might happen more often with Dolby Atmos.

      btw, what is 48HFR? an upgraded version of 24fps playback?
       
    18. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      The Hobbit was shot at 48 frames per a second as opposed to the usual 24 and Warners are referring to it as 3D HFR (High Frame Rate). I've been reading some early reviews of The Hobbit and it sounds as though certain action scenes benefit from the higher frame rate but interior scenes look more like expensive video. I'll reserve judgement until I've seen 3D HFR for myself but I have concerns about the use of a higher frame rate.
       
    19. Dan201

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      It must all be in an attempt to get us back to the cinema.

      3D didn't do it for the masses and can already be had at home but I can't see Atmos making to the home in the same way so it could be sound and not video that gets us back to our local cinemas.
       
    20. Wilseus

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      This sounds good but I'd rather have a decent sound system in my local cinema using technology that's already out there than a new system that I'd have to go to London to experience. How many THX certified cinemas are there in the UK? There was just one the last time I checked!
       
    21. Steve Withers

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      Dolby are still beta testing Atmos, it doesn't officially launch until the spring but don't worry there will be plenty of Atmos equipped cinemas this time next year.
       
    22. alextheg

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      I listened to the Podcast today and im all the more excited to hear Atmos in action. After listening to Guy Hawley im convinced this is really going to give the cinema experience the upper hand.

      Reading between the lines id say Atmos will not be feasible in the home , at least for the majority of us. The complexity and the hardware; for example the amount of speakers will i think make it out of reach. This i feel will make the cinema special once again.
       
    23. Dan201

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      I can see a home version involving more height chanels rather than ceiling ones. Or possibly using a couple of in ceiling speakers.
       
    24. alextheg

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      Im not sure, although i would be inclined to consider extra speakers at the sides or rear. As you know , we can do this already with 7.1 / 9..1 receivers and this obviously is going to make a considerable difference to the sound field.

      We can already achieve the base of Atmos ie; the 7.1 soundtrack. Its the speaker arrays thats the clincher not the channels. Yes Dolby have added channels to the mix , its what they've done with them thats important. For example in the cinema they can use upto 64 outputs. Its a colossal amount of speakers. No wonder its immersive.

      Once you try and water that down and squeeze it into the home theatre im not sure you will get the effect of Atmos. Most of us can do 5.1 but 7.1 and above thats a different story........ Im not saying i would'nt welcome the technology upgrade i would, I just dont see how they're going to do it.

      Besides , i only just buried all my existing cables in the walls a few months ago.........is that the wife calling ?
       
    25. Doomlord_uk

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      I think it will be easy to add extra speakers in the home for Dolby Atmos, as long as we don't get hung up over size, power ratings etc. Overhead speakers would just need to be ceiling speakers, they're neither expensive nor particularly problematic aesthetically. Once fitted, anyway. I can absolutely see Atmos coming to future homes...

      As for 3D bringing us back to the cinema - it has, for me; my only reservations are that there is considerable variation in how well it is done, and the cheapo glasses they give out suck. I'm seriously thinking of buying some fancy Real3D glasses for the cinema though, which I hope will improve my enjoyment of 3D films more.

      All new tech takes time to mature, spread and become widely accepted and for creative people to learn how to get the best out of it. And by the time they have, I would think it would also finally have become affordable. So I'm certainly looking forward to hearing this both in the cinema and at home eventually too.
       
    26. Steve Withers

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      I'm sure that Dolby will ultimately release a home version of Atmos that uses DSP to replicate the improved steering, we're already seeing a variation of that with DTS Neo: X that creates a pseudo 11.1 configuration from 7.1 speakers.

      Investing in a decent pair of RealD glasses is a good idea, I was lucky enough to receive a designer pair from LG that are very light and use real glass, it definitely improves my experience at the cinema.
       
      Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
    27. Jon P

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      Someone should make a mock up of a atmos home cinema in a normal living room. Bolting that many full range speakers in a living room would look hysterical. Maybe oneof the speaker companies could do it for April fools. Stick 1 full range speaker on my ceiling and I'd have to duck.
      The very concept is amazing I've installed 11.2 home cinema and that does create a very different experience but actually having the independent channels/objects must be totally immersive.
      Maybe when cinemas upgrade to atmos they could fix some of their other flaws at the same time. Projectors that shake and walls between cinemas that aren't able to keep out noise are things that plague my local cinema.
       
    28. phow

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      For anyone interested. "Life of Pi" is showing now at the Empire Leicester Square (London) screen 1 in Atmos.
      I went to see (and hear) it last night. All I can say is it was a Jaw dropping experience, they showed the "leaf" trailer before the movie and the feeling was similar to the first time I heard 5.1 off a Laserdisc (Chain Reaction) in a proper demo room many years ago.

      As the Empire is a large room intricate sounds with 5.1 tend to get lost especially in the surround channels but with Atmos everything was prescise all around.
      The screen speakers blended seamlessly with the sides, rears...the overhead channels during the rain, storm and a few other scenes (without wanting to give any spoilers). Again the soundfield blended together to bring the audiotrack to life.

      Can't wait to see the next Atmos movie that will be shown at the Empire. I wonder what other Cinema chains in the UK are planning an Atmos installation in 2013 and where? Perhaps the "Vue extreme screens" maybe???
       
    29. Steve Withers

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      I saw the trailer for 'Life of Pi' in 3D last night and whilst that kind of spiritual claptrap isn't my cup of tea, the 3D looked amazing, so it must have been awesome with Dolby Atmos. Speaking of 'The Hobbit', I'm seeing it in Dolby Atmos at a special screening at The Empire on the 22nd of December, which should be interesting.
       
      Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
    30. Dan201

      Dan201
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      Spare ticket Steve?
       

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