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Motion Picture Sound - part 3
Digital Film Sound Formats
|IMAX DDP||Dolby SR-D||DTS||Sony SDDS|
|introduced 1988||introduced 1991||introduced 1993||introduced 1993|
|by Sonic Associates||by Dolby Laboratories||by Digital Theater Systems||by Sony Electronics|
1990 - Dick Tracy released June 15 as the first 35mm feature film distributed with a digital soundtrack by Cinema Digital Sound (CDS), developed by Eastman Kodak and Optical Radiation Corp. "The system was set up in the typical Left, Center, Right, Right Surround, Left Surround, LFE channel format. CDS encoded 16-bit PCM audio in a compression process called Delta Modulation. The process is very similar to normal PCM coding, but with one major difference. PCM coding records the intensity of every sample to a zero db level. That requires 16-bits for each sample. Delta Modulation records the intensity differences of successive samples, and that doesn't require nearly as much data. The compression level of CDS ran approximately 4:1." (quote from Bobby Henderson, CDS) However, the system replaced the optical analog soundtrack without allowing any backup track for theaters not equipped with the $20,000 digital playback system. Also, theaters preferred to wait for the Dolby digital system that was compatible with an analog track.
|from Dolby Labs|
1992 - Batman Returns premiered June 19 in 10 theatres equipped with new Dolby DA10 Digital Film Sound Processor
1993 - Jurassic Park released May 30 as the first film with DTS sound, developed by Terry Beard, founder of Digital Theater Systems in Westalke Village, CA, partly owned by Steven Speilberg and Universal Pictures. This digital sound film format records 6 tracks on separate CD-ROM disks, synchronized by an optical timecode track recorded on the film, co-existing with a backup optical soundtrack similar to Dolby Stereo.
|from the unofficial DTS Page|
1993 - Last Action Hero released July 18 using the Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) digital sound film format that put 6 or 8 tracks of digital sound on 2 optical stripes on each edge of the film strip, recorded on the cyan layer beneath the other emulsion layers, using the lossy ATRAC algorithm of the Sony Minidisc technology with a compression ratio of 5:1, dynamic range of 105db and a frequency response from 5-20,000Hz. It is compatible with a backup standard optical soundtrack such as Dolby SR.
|from the unofficial SDDS Page|
1996 - DTS trailer film for Jurassic Park: The Lost World released: "The teaser trailer, which debuted on December 13 at forty locations in the United States and two in Toronto, Canada, is driven by a modified DTS that activated six stategically placed strobe lights employed to comlement the images that appear on the screen. Using DTS technology, the timing for the strobe lights is encoded into the trailer's print, which is synched to the highly reliable DTS CD-ROM system. Audiences viewing the teaser trailer feel as if they are caught in a rainstorm complete with life-like sound and lightning provided by the strobe lights." (press release from DTS).
1998 - Dolby became the leading producer of motion picture sound processors used in theaters worldwide with over 50,000 sold; projector attachments such as the CP500 digital cinema processor introduced in 1995 were capable of decoding 2 of the 4 soundtracks recorded on most film prints (see chart at right from Audio).
|chart from "The Magic of Film Sound" in Audio 1999/05|
1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace was released May 19 in the U.S. with Dolby Digital Surround EX providing an added rear center audio channel. On June 18, it was the first major studio motion picture to be exhibited in digital cinema in 4 theaters with digital projectors by Texas Instruments and by CineComm.
1910-1929 - see Motion Picture Sound part 1
1930-1989 - see Motion Picture Sound part 2
- American Cinematographer, "Sensurround." Nov. 1974, p. 1312.
- American WideScreen Museum
- Baldock, Mark R.VistaVison. 1 June 1997.
- Culhane,John. Walt Disney's Fantasia. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1983.
- Daniel, Oliver. Stokowski: a Counterpoint of View. New York: Dodd Mead, 1982.
- DelGrosso, David. DTS Technology. October 1996.
- Digital Sound Page, 3 May 1996.
- Dolby Laboratories, Chronology of Dolby Laboratories from 1965 to 1989 and from 1990-present. San Francisco, CA. 1 May 1997.
- Fielding, Raymond. A Technological History of Motion Pictures and Television; an Anthology from the Pages of the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967.
- Hilton, Kevin. "The Phantom Menace," Studio Sound March 1999.
- Holman, Tomlinson. "Lucasfilm's approach to bringing the theater experience home." Stereo Review, April 1994, article reproduced at Lucasfilm THX page.
- Klapholz, Jesse. "Fantasia Innovations in Sound," Journal of Audio Engineering Society 39, Jan/Feb 1991, pp. 66-70.
- Lucasfilm, Ltd. THX Theatre Sound Systems, San Rafael, CA. 1 May 1997.
- Mead, William. Cinema Technology Page, including SDDS FAQ. 1 June 1997.
- MSP - Movie Sound Page
- Neighbors, Bill. Interview with Business Unusual, CNN televison broadcast May 31, 1997.
- One Hundred Years of Film Sizes
- Roudebush, James. "Filmed in Panavision: The Ultimate Wide Screen Experience" article in Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity. January 1995.
- Scientific American. "The 1997 National Medal of Technology: Ray Dolby" in Explorations. May 1997.
- Sharnhorst, Dan. "Digital Sound" in Moviegoers Guide to Movie Theatres. 24 May 1997.
- Sun, Perry. Movie Sound Page. 25 May 1997.
- DVD Resource Page from Steve Tannehill has links to DVD information and to Jim Taylor's DVD FAQ
- 1999-2000 by Steven E. Schoenherr. All rights reserved.
Recording Technology History Notes | this page revised 12/7/00