AES Section Meeting Reports

Los Angeles - January 26, 2016

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Our January gathering was a joint AES LA Section/SMPTE Hollywood Section meeting that considered how the TV/film community can create a single, object-based immersive mix that will translate everywhere, from cinema to home theater and even tablets with headphones. With a purposely controversial title of "The Mix: The Challenges of Creating a Multi-Channel, Multi-Platform Product," the event was moderated by Jim DeFilippis from TMS Consulting, who reviewed available formats and workflow solutions for creating next-generation soundtracks that can be delivered over a variety of distribution channels.

The panel comprised re-recording mixer Greg P. Russell from Technicolor at Paramount; re-recording mixer Tony Lamberti, who has more than 30 years of mixing experience; David Gould, director of audio content solutions at Dolby Laboratories; Michael Karagosian, who represented the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) during the development of digital cinema; and Lon Neumann from Neumann Technologies, which offers audio training seminars, standards development and loudness measurement/management.

"The Atmos format's ceiling speakers offer additional creative opportunities," Russell stated. "Sound-effects mixers - like me - can now use additional surround channels to place the audience within the action, including rain and thunder coming from above them, to create an even more exciting and realistic experience. And the use of full-range surround loudspeakers [for Atmos playback] means that we retain the same sound characteristic no matter where the sound is moved around the auditorium. This is very, very cool!"

"While there are very exciting opportunities available with full-range surround speakers," agreed Lamberti, "the added 'depth' available from an Atmos mix really lets the re-recording mixer open up a soundtrack." "The enhanced resolution of object-based channels lets me place the sound at precise locations within a playback environment," Russell conceded.

Movie Atmos mixes can also be remastered for consumer playback using the Home Atmos format delivered via Blu-Ray or OTT services, Gould explained. "Using spatial coding for the audio tracks and the [companion] metadata," he stated, "we can deliver immersive soundtracks to flexible home environments," as well as tablets and streaming services such as Amazon Prime.

"Motion-picture and home theaters are two, very different spaces," Neumann stressed. "Cinema mixes have to be remastered for the consumer space - at the very least quality-checked for playback loudness, dynamic range, and imaging."

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