Dolby unveils new theatrical audio platform

Dolby Atmos adapts filmmakers' vision to existing speaker cofigs

LAS VEGAS — Dolby has unveiled a new audio platform that allows filmmakers to more effectively broadcast sound from precise locations all around the cinema — in some cases over auds’ heads — no matter the exhibitors’ initial speaker setup.

Called Dolby Atmos, the platform is scaleable, so exhibs can start with a smaller investment and build it out over time. Though Dolby has not yet released its pricing models, the entry-level retrofit cost for theaters is to be in the low tens of thousands of dollars.

The first-of-its-kind hybrid approach to mixing directs sound as dynamic objects enveloping the listener, and ensures playback is as close as possible to the creator’s vision, irrespective of individual theaters’ speaker configuration.

Dolby Atmos is our most significant innovation in years and represents the future for entertainment sound in cinema,” said Kevin Yeaman, Dolby prexy and CEO. “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.”

The platform is said to give a new level of creative control to sound mixers and designers, and integrates with existing studio workflow platforms. For exhibs, Atmos analyzes the speaker layout and acoustic playback capabilities of the theater to determine how best to render the audio.

“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, AMC Theatres digital systems veep. “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.”

Dolby, which is demonstrating its platform Monday at CinemaCon here, will focus on a select number of locations in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan, with plans for a larger rollout in 2013. HARMAN Professional is working with Dolby to design simplified speaker upgrades for use with of Atmos, which is designed to handle even direct-overhead speakers — for the filmmakers and exhibs looking to take full advantage of its capabilities.

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