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What Dolby Atmos means to ‘The Hobbit: AUJ’

December 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm by MrCere  - 

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has taken several leaps forward in how movies are presented. Some don’t like the 3D 48 fps that the film was shot in and the debate will likely rage for years. But another technology, just as much a leap forward but little talked about is the new Dolby Atmos sound system installed in dozens, not thousands of theaters so far.

Unlike the high frame rate, there is virtually no diversity of opinions at all when it comes to the new Dolby Laboratories presentation of digital sound to go along with the latest in digital display. The Hobbit: AUJ is one of the first film to be mixed in the new tech and the Embassy Theater in Wellington, where the film enjoyed its world premiere, was fitted with equipment and speakers to bring it to life.

The new sound system allows the filmmakers to put sound all around a theater in the 360 degree environment and also place sound over listeners heads, nearly anywhere in the auditorium. How? Well, the explanations are probably best viewed and listened to rather than read. Remember all those Academy Awards that Return of the King won? They (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, and Michael Semanick) and they guys doing the Hobbit mix as well. So, this 11-minute video, specifically made around The Hobbit, is both informative and entertaining. Check in around the 7-minute mark if you can’t watch it all. If that excellent piece doesn’t help, Dolby Atmos and the sound mixing process, is prominently featured in the latest Peter Jackson video diary.

When The Hobbit was announced as an Atmos movie, Peter Jackson said, “I strive to make movies that allow the audience to participate in the events onscreen, rather than just watch them unfold. Wonderful technology is now available to support this goal: high frame rates, 3D, and now the stunning Dolby Atmos system.”

I took the lone Utah theater for a test drive and asked somebody from Dolby what to listen to. The sequence in Radagast’s house was one of three tips I was given but I decided to not read the rest and mostly listen to the film and check it for myself. Ever watch a film with your eyes closed? I really enjoyed Atmos during the Riddles In The Dark sequence with cave drips and echoes. I was surprised by sounds of outdoor shots like wind and chirping birds. Delightful. Dolby also recommended the sequence of dwarven dish washing. Finally, I enjoyed a fuller and better score as well. I am not a sound expert but I loved listening to The Hobbit but as I moved around the auditorium, for optimal sound I was a little more than half way back from the screen.

This official list from Dolby has all the screens world-wide that are playing The Hobbit: An Unofficial Journey as well as The Life of Pi.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit on December 20, 2012 by