New Dolby sound will have movie audiences cowering

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Dolby's invented a new sound system so realistic, it says, that it'll scare the life out of movie-goers.

Taking surround sound more literally than ever before, Dolby Atmos uses up to 64 speaker feeds and 128 simultaneous audio inputs to 'envelop the listener'. Sounds can be placed anywhere within the movie theater - so that creepy footsteps can move realistically overhead, for example.

"Dolby Atmos is our most significant innovation in years and represents the future for entertainment sound in cinema," says Kevin Yeaman, president and CEO of Dolby Laboratories.

Content creators will be able to combine the usual channel-based mixing methods with dynamic audio object—based mixing - giving total control over the placement and movement of individual sounds.

Using descriptive metadata about how the audio should be played back, says the company, Dolby Atmos generates legacy 5.1-and 7.1-channel mixes automatically and accurately, which can then be monitored and tweaked by mixers.

"Dolby Atmos brings a completely new dimension to the motion picture soundtrack," says Mike Hedges, the Academy Award—winning re-recording mixer at Park Road Post Production.

"To be able to move sounds anywhere in the theatre, and to also create environments that surround and excite an audience, is extremely powerful."

Dolby plans to start by installing Dolby Atmos in about a dozentheaters in the US, Europe, China, and Japan, with plans for a larger rollout next year - including smaller venues. The first movie to benefit will be Pixar's Brave.

"For a large cinema group like Gaumont Pathé, the scalability of the solution is a significant step for the industry," says François Ivernel, chairman of Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé.

"With auditoriums of different sizes, a format that can play back with such amazingly natural quality in any theatre environment is tremendously appealing."