Audio pioneer Dolby is investing in everything from mixing studios to a support ecosystem in order to convince both Bollywood and theatre owners across the country to convert to the company’s latest surround sound format.
The new format, known as Dolby Atmos, allows viewers to pinpoint a movie’s sounds in a full 3D space with much greater fidelity than previous formats.
For Dolby, having Bollywood and other regional movie industries move from the 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound standard is a daunting task.
It has to convince the entire chain: production houses, directors, sound designers as well as theatre owners.
The company, which set up an India subsidiary five years ago, has, therefore, invested in giving eight different mixing studios the ability to perform Dolby Atmos sound mixing in a way that would not result in increased post-production time.
“So far, we have around 40 screens in India that have converted or upgraded to the new Atmos format. When directors are making a movie, they would typically take a 5.1 mix and then remix [that] to get an Atmos format mix. We needed to have mixing studios that could do this specific type of mixing from scratch as it would save production houses and movie directors a lot of time if they chose to release the movie in Atmos,” Pankaj Kedia, Country Manager, India, told this correspondent.
“So we approached a few mixing studios, four in Chennai and four in Mumbai, and have invested along with them. Giving them the Dolby equipment itself costs around Rs.40-50 lakh,” he added.
For a typical theatre owner, the price of upgrading a single screen to Dolby Atmos ranges anywhere from Rs.25 lakh to Rs.40 lakh.
This price, however, will come down in future as cinema halls generally upgrade to newer technology.
While the Atmos technology doesn’t provide a crystal-clear ROI (return on investment) factor yet, Mr. Kedia points out that, generally, bookings for Atmos screens fill up faster than non-Atmos screens.
“What we are seeing, in theatres that have upgraded to Dolby Atmos, is that there is a preference for Atmos-enabled screens among customers.
Some cinemas use this as a competitive advantage, while others raise the prices of a ticket for an Atmos screen,” he said.