Beyond Dolby by Mark Kerins

By Mark Kerins

Since electronic encompass sound expertise first seemed in cinemas twenty years in the past, it has unfold from theaters to houses and from videos to tv, track, and games. but while 5.1 has turn into the traditional for audiovisual media, its influence has long gone unexamined. Drawing on works from the prior twenty years, in addition to dozens of interviews with sound designers, mixers, and editors, Mark Kerins uncovers how 5.1 encompass has affected not only sound layout, yet cinematography and modifying besides. past Dolby (Stereo) contains unique analyses of struggle membership, The Matrix, Hairspray, Disturbia, The Rock, Saving deepest Ryan, and pleasure experience, between different movies, to demonstrate the price of a very audiovisual method of cinema studies.

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47 Released in monophonic and multi-channel magnetic (fourtrack 35mm and six-track 70mm) versions that could function either with or without the Sensurround equipment, Earthquake screenings employed anywhere from one to seven separate audio and Sensurround channels, depending on the theater. While Sensurround’s rumbles and shakes created a novel audience experience, the system was never able to overcome certain limitations inherent in its design. For one, Sensurround was itself a monophonic system; though it could be used with the CinemaScope and 70mm 30 · P roduc t io n a n d S t y l e multi-channel magnetic formats, the expanded dynamic and frequency ranges it offered only applied to the single Sensurround channel, not the other sound channels.

Additionally, Sensurround required exhibitors to rent Universal’s proprietary equipment. This arrangement allowed high-end exhibitors to draw crowds but limited the system’s reach, as the earlier failure of magnetic multi-channel had left many theater owners unwilling to pay for a new and unproven system. Facing these problems and—by the late 1970s—competition from Dolby Stereo, Sensurround disappeared as a release format in 1981 after use on only five films. The system remains noteworthy, however, for its use of a discrete low-frequency-only channel, an idea that would resurface a decade later as part of the digital surround sound specifications.

88 This high cost of adoption kept Dolby’s system from spreading quickly enough to keep competitors out of the market. A year after SR-D’s introduction, the DTS system developed by Digital Theater Systems debuted in Jurassic Park (1993). 89 This disparity stemmed from two elements. First, exhibitors could purchase DTS’s system for about $4,000, a mere fifth the cost of adopting Dolby’s SR-D. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Dolby needed to convince studios and filmmakers to embrace its system, while DTS already had the weight of an entire studio and one of the most successful directors of all time behind it.

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