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Audio Engineering Society

Chicago Section

Meeting Recap - March 18, 2015


(left) Thomas Kodros, (center) Kerry J Haps, (right) Mark Collins

TOPIC: AES Tour of the Marcus Addison Cinema and a demo/review of their Dolby ATMOS system

PRESENTERS: Mark Collins (Director of Projection Technology at Marcus Theaters Corporation) & Thomas Kodros (Sr. Manager, Content Services Group at Dolby Laboratories)

DATE: March 18, 2015

LOCATION: Marcus Addison Cinema, Addison IL



The March 18, 2015, meeting of the Chicago AES Section was held at the Marcus Addison Cinema in the ‘UltraScreen DLX’ theater in Addison, Illinois. A total of more than fifty members and non-members were able make it out to Addison and sit in very large and comfortable lounge seats to see, hear, and learn about the theater and their recently installed Dolby ATMOS system.

Brian McCarty (one of our Chicago Section members) started the evening by welcoming everyone that was able to attend and then introduced Mark Collins (who reserved the theater for our Section) and Thomas Kodros (who flew in from New York specifically to speak to our Section). Together, both Mark and Thomas gave a history and overview of Dolby’s ATMOS system and then pointed out the unique attributes of the theater. My notes can be best relayed as bullet points:

  • ATMOS comes from ‘atmosphere’
  • The 1st release of a Dolby ATMOS movie was Disney’s Brave across about 60 screens in June of 2012
  • Surround 7.1 was received well on Blue Ray Disc at the home but in cinema, 7.1 caused confusion with content, gear, equipment, keys, etc.
  • Any new format needs to be easy to use in both the home and for cinema operators
  • How far do you go?...57.1?


  • Considers the ceiling affects overhead and has the ability to pan discreetly through sound arrays
  • Each speaker has its own dedicated sub for low-end content
  • 64 channels are available via ATMOS (the Addison Theater uses 36 channels)
  • ATMOS is now integrated with consoles using ‘positional metadata’ via panner controls
  • New spatial tools are being constantly developed (progressing from manual to automatic)
  • Every ATMOS theater has its own mapping and the movie audio is adjusted in the processor to work with each specific theater; Movies are distributed to each theater location via satellite and is downloaded/saved to an LMS server for viewing. The ATMOS processor (in rack) decodes the audio real time when it plays the movie in each respective theater
  • Dolby will pre-approve each new theater or retro-fit proposal and then test each theater to verify that it meets their criteria

The UltraScreen DLX theater

  • Was originally an IMAX theater and then was retrofitted as an ATMOS theater
  • 10.6 terabytes of hard-drive storage
  • The cost to install the ceiling speakers in the very tall theater cost more than the purchase price of the new gear
  • The crossovers for the subs are typically set between 70 and 80Hz

Brian McCarty added that the process of ‘rendering’ is a relatively new concept and role where one can take an immersive recorded sound mix and adjust it based on if it is to be played in a theater or in a home. He also mentioned that due to the confusion that comes along with having multiple sound formats, SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) is trying to establish a single sound format.

The Chicago AES Section would like to extend a special thank you to both Mark Collins and Thomas Kodros for hosting our Section at such an amazing theater, showing a number of movie clips that enabled us to have an amazing audio and visual experience, and for giving us a ‘behind the scenes’ overview of how far the tools and technology has come today.