EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. Godzilla and Disney’s Need for Speed are the latest titles to be slated for mixing in Dolby’s immersive audio format Atmos, ScreenDaily has learned.
Erik Aadahl, supervising sound editor and sound re-recording mixer says the technology is becoming a key creative choice in project development for directors including Michael Bay.
Bay is preparing an Atmos mix for Paramount Pictures’ Transformers 4 and working once again with Aadahl, supervising sound editor on Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
“One of things we are playing with in Transformers 4 is the idea of psychoacoustics [sound perception] in which we can use the ceiling array to spin a room in a 360-degree arc,” explained Aadahl. “There are so many fun things you can do with balance and how the audience is oriented that is just impossible with one plane of speakers in 7.1 format.”
“Michael [Bay] is getting visual ideas based on this new ability we have with sound,” added Aadahl. “Usually it is the opposite way around - director’s start with the image. This technology [Atmos] allows for a lot more cross-pollination between picture and sound.”
Aadahl is also experimenting with Atmos for director Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.
“When Gareth comes into the theatre the sound is sparking discussions and ideas about what he can do in the script to heighten the emotional feel of the film,” said Aadahl.
“Gareth is coming up with sequences while listening to sound. That is the ideal scenario.”
For director Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed, Aadahl has completed a week of sound recording luxury racing cars, including a $950,000 GTA Spano, at a closed-off section of the Pacific Coast highway in Mendocino County, North California.
“The director wants to use the real sound experience of what it’s like to be racing and put the audience in the cabin of a car,” he described.
“You can hear the engine, tyre noise and road behind you and pieces of brush whipping past. We mic’ed and recorded with that in mind to get a realistic and fully articulated space rather than just recording separate elements to be layered together later on.”
At CinemaCon this week, Dolby announced the addition of Sony Pictures’ Elysium and Twentieth Century Fox’s The Heat to the 40 titles mixed and released in Atmos.
“The big limitation now is the picture,” said Aadahl. “We truly now have 3D sound yet the picture, even with in 3D, still only fills 45 degrees of your vision. To me that is holding us back. The picture needs to evolve as much as sound.”
Dolby Atmos is designed to transmit up to 128 simultaneous and lossless audio channels, and renders from 5.1 up to 64 discrete speaker feeds.
The only UK cinema which has installed the necessary speaker arrays to play the format is Empire Leicester Square although Dolby says it has fresh UK theatre announcements pending.