If you had known me as a kid, you would have been forgiven for thinking I was going to end up in the movies, one way or the other. I was the sort of guy who would leave home early so that I could be at the theatres on time, not my college. In the early 1990s, one of the biggest cinematic achievements of my small town down south was the addition of Dolby Digital sound in one of the oldest theatres around.
The drum roll that dominated the small Dolby trailer that preceded every show was a delight to the ears.
Last year, I was treated to a similar auditory experience, but one which was much superior in every sense of the term. That was when I had the opportunity to watch the Life of Pi at Sathyam in Chennai on Dolby Atmos. For the uninitiated, Dolby Atmos is a cutting-edge sound technology that adds the third dimension to movie audio by enabling film-makers to match the sound much more closely with the action on the screen.
So, if there is a 3D scene on screen, you can make the sound to jump in sync thanks to an array of 64 or 128 speakers spread all over the hall. Directors now have the ability to throw sound to just one of those speakers, or audio object, and that is how Dolby makes sound move.
Sathyam was the first screen in India to equip itself with Atmos, and a 3D version of Rajinikanth’s Sivaji was the first Indian movie to be enabled with the technology. Since then more Indian film-makers have been shooting in Atmos, adding that extra layer to grip the audience. Cinema sound for the 3D era had finally arrived.
The first year did not see Atmos going across the country, as not many new screens were being inaugurated. However, 2014 has been different with a flurry of cinemas, both big and small, adopting the technology across India.
While Mumbai had quite a few screens with Atmos, Delhi got its first this summer, that too at an old favourite, Daryaganj’s Delite Cinema. For owner Shashank Raizada, the satisfaction of offering a better movie experience to his customers was enough to sign up for the R70 lakh upgrade consisting Dolby processor, amplifiers and new speakers. Delite Cinemas now has a 64-speaker array, compared to the Radio Corporation of America mono-system with which