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Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 | 1 comment

Real Spaces

Image by Stewart Butterfield. Used under a Creative Commons license. Click picture to view source.

Image by Stewart Butterfield, used under a Creative Commons license. Click image to view source.

When we say “space”, people generally think of two things: outer space, or a bounded area that something fits into. It’s a safe bet that most people in the sound community immediately think of the latter. So often we focus on the characteristics of a space…how far a sound carries, reflections and reverberation time, etc. Certainly that helps us define a space, but…for the most part…only on a technical level. What really defines a space, is what occupies it. There’s no denying that production designers and location scouts in film, or level designers and artists in games, have a strong role in creating a space, but we in the sonic branch of our respective mediums have the unique ability to refine…or even redefine…those spaces they create. Sometimes, we’re even given the opportunity to create spaces where they cannot. What I want us to consider in light of that, is how we approach the creation of that space.

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Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Immersive Sound: From Production to Playback

RandyThomMix Magazine, The MPSE and CAS have collaborated to put together a one day conference (September 6th, 2014) at Sony Studios in Culver City (Los Angeles, CA) exploring the Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D formats. Mix has been advertising this event for a while now, but details were fairly sparse. Things appear to have been locked down, and the schedule is now up on the event’s website. Take a look at the agenda to see who will speaking, or look at the schedule to see what will be available when. There’s a wealth of talent that will be talking about their experiences with the formats, including a keynote will presented by friend of the site Randy Thom.

If you were on the fence about the event, the new information will probably make the decision for you. The event is $79, though I know that MPSE members can register for free (you should have received an e-mail, I did). I believe the same holds true for CAS members. Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there!

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 | 5 comments

The World in Three Dimensions…

InsightScopeThere was a time when people argued that theatrical (even home) sound has long been three dimensional. Maybe there are still some that make that claim. With the rise of binaural audio, Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D, sound actually is entering the third dimension. This is just a small semantic argument. Surround sound, in its traditional 5.1 and 7.1 formats, wasn’t technically three dimensional. It was still a two dimensional plane, but that plane was perpendicular to the screen. In a way, it made the viewing experience three dimensional. Here we had the 2D screen on the vertical plane, and the 2D sound on the horizontal. The world of the film could extend away from the screen to envelop the viewer. As the presence of three dimensional image grows in our media consumption experiences, it’s become even more important to make good use of the surround technology at our disposal. The visual experience is now as immersive as the aural.

With that fact in mind, we turn our focus this month to the topic of “Surround.”

Next month’s featured topic will be “Silence.” As always, we want your guest contributions. If you have an idea you’d like to explore, or something you want to put in front of the community, whether it be as part of our monthly topic or something further afield, please contact us. Email Shaun, or use our contact form to get the ball rolling.

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Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 | 3 comments

Ambiences with Dolby Atmos

Sitting there as credits rolled after a Dolby Atmos presentation of Brave this past summer, I felt excited for the potential of this budding format. Before the film, a few seated moms and dads were even verbally excited as the usher announce that we would be watching the film in a new sound format. During the film, the theater was saturated with sound, I truly felt immersed at times.  Yet as I watched the credits fly by, I couldn’t help feeling that until sound crews sink their teeth into the format, we won’t really hear Atmos fully realized. For the format to really sparkle, films need to be designed, edited, and premixed with Atmos in mind or as Dolby would like it, premixed IN Atmos entirely. After reading about the impression Atmos left on Shaun at AES and trying to find a way to contribute to an already excellent month of ambient discussion, I decided I should contact a few sound crews that mixed in Atmos, ask how backgrounds are handled, and with that initial experience how they would approach BGs in their next Atmos mix.

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Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 | 7 comments

My Impressions of Dolby Atmos

One of the hot topics at AES this year…and by “hot,” I mean a subject that had multiple conference sessions devoted to it…was the concept of adding height to the spatial information presented by multi-channel surround formats. I’m sure a fair bit of the enthusiasm for this subject is caused by the announcement and release of Dolby Atmos earlier this year.

My experience with Dolby Atmos prior to AES was non-existent. To date, there are only 14 theaters in the U.S., and one in Canada, currently equipped for Atmos playback. The closest theater to me is in New York, and that’s not exactly a short trip from the Washington, DC, metro area. Thankfully, my trip out to San Francisco for AES provided me with two opportunities to listen to the system at work. The first was a technical demonstration at Dolby Laboratories, scheduled as a “Technical Tour” within the AES events program. The second was the AMC Metreon, which had two daily showings of Chasing Mavericks; the latest film release to be mixed in the new Atmos format.

Just imagining all that could be done in creating subtle backgrounds and ambiences, I was excited to hear what this system could do…though I fully expected the bulk of the examples that Dolby would be showing would tend toward spectacle. That proved, for the most part, to be true. Which made the opportunity presented by Chasing Mavericks all the more important; a chance to truly hear how editors and re-recording mixers would make use of the system throughout the course of a story. Before I get too deep into those experiences though, let’s talk about some of the interesting technical abilities of the system.

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