Dolby has always been at the forefront of audio entertainment and has pioneered the industry with Dolby Digital as well as its 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound innovations, currently a standard in many home theatres around the world. Of late, however, Dolby Labs have upped the ante yet again. The Dolby Atmos is a new service offering sound so real, so clear and so immersive that it will no doubt revolutionise the movie going experience for audiences. It has just recently been announced that Dolby’s Atmos technology will be used in the upcoming cinematic adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Following on from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit already features groundbreaking technology as it was shot at 48 frames per second. Now, director Peter Jackson has gone a step further by introducing Dolby Atmos to the audience. The combination of these sights and sounds will ensure that everyone who visits a Atmos-equipped cinema this festive season will be in for an audio visual treat.
Dolby unveiled the Atmos technology in April 2012 and was immediately accepted with much interest. The features include the fact that it can produce 128 audio elements across 64 independent lossless audio channels, including ceiling speakers. It’s a giant progression from today’s 5.1 and 7.1 systems.
The new 64 Speaker Atmos technology from Dolby encourages sound directors to consider audio elements that reflect moving objects instead of purely directional effects. The consequence of this is that sounds are able to be placed anywhere, resulting in the movement of sound inwards from around the audience as well as be placed from the ceiling above them. A good example of this would be the appearance of a helicopter on screen. The sounds made by the chopper would initially start form the sides and move up and over the heads of the audience. The sound is experienced in rich layers and from speakers strategically placed all around the theatre.
Not too dissimilar to the 3D ‘revolution’ the use of Dolby Atmos will slowly but surely find its way across various countries in time. The system first made its entrance into cinemas in the United States with the movie Brave and now Mission: Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol as well as The Woman in Black have both jumped on board in limited cinemas. As far as the company are concerned, Dolby Atmos is expected to be introduced into over 100 theatres worldwide by 2013.
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Dave Peterson is a real tech-head and loves anything to do with the latest technology, gadgets and audio visual equipment. He’s a regular blogger on such topics.