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Why Dolby Atmos matters to cinema

The sound experience is key to filmmakers and audiences today

Sound is increasingly becoming a key factor in the success of a film. In the last few years, the quality of sound mixing has resulted in many box office successes. According to a survey taken by a production house in Bollywood, audiences today discuss the sound experience in a theatre more than the visuals.

Theatres across India, from high-end multiplexes to single screens, are improving the quality of their sound system at huge expenses to attract audiences. The mixing of sound for films has become a special ingredient that will bring the audiences to theatres at a time when Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos are luring away viewers. The entire concept of film viewing has changed in the last six years, since Dolby Atmos re-released Rajinikanth’s Sivaji in 3D in 2012.

From Sivaji 3D in 2012 to last week’s blockbuster Sanju, Dolby Atmos has gained popularity and acceptance among directors, producers and exhibitors. In the last six years, 400-plus Indian film titles had Dolby Atmos mix. Today, 450 screens across the country are fitted with Dolby Atmos sound system, out of which 280 screens are situated in South India, mainly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Friedrich Deininger, Senior Director of Sales, Cinema, EMEA & India in Dolby, who was in Chennai for celebrating 50 Dolby Atmos screens in the city, said, “India is a very ambitious market but extremely diverse. It creates powerful audio by introducing two important concepts to cinema sound: audio objects and overhead speakers. Together, they have changed how soundtracks are created and heard. Atmos gives audiences the sensation that sound is coming from every direction, even overhead, creating a hemisphere of audio that puts viewers in the middle of the action.”

Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatre in Chrompet explains, “The Dolby Atmos sound has totally revamped the way we see and experience sound in cinema. Speakers on the ceiling have added to goose-bump moments in movies and today’s audiences love it. They know which theatre has the best sound system.” Sound has played a big role in the success of films like Baahubali 2 and Vikram Vedha. Even Hollywood films like Avengers: Infinity war, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and last week’s Incredibles 2 and their Tamil dubbed versions were released with Atmos. Director Venkat Prabhu feels, “If the audiences have to come to the theatre, we have to give them a total experience in which sound plays a pivotal role.” He predicts that the songs of his upcoming film, especially ‘Chachacharey’ (sung by Suriya and Karthi and composed by Premgi), will click big-time with audiences due to the sound system.

Today’s directors are building sound into the story. They are even working out action scenes to the last minute detail to ensure it sounds perfect when seen on the big screen. The buzz is that Rajinikanth’s Shankar-directed 2.0 will feature some innovative sound, as it has been built into the story. Ashim Mathur, Senior Director at Dolby, says, “Now, you can have the different sounds of 128 objects at the same time in a scene. This effect ensures that the sound of rain falling from the sky or a helicopter flying overhead feels more visceral than ever. It transports you into the story.”

The theatre boom seen in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, with many single screens getting renovated into multiple screens, can largely be attributed to the growth of the sound system. As S Pictures’ Srinivasan says, “We need to constantly update technology to keep the theatre-going audiences hooked to the movies. Big-star Tamil films of the future will be made keeping sound as an integral part, as it encourages audiences to watch it again if the acoustics are good.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 6:09:02 PM |

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