Hobbit to be Released in Dolby Atmos
Forget 3D, this year, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released with the new Dolby Atmos surround technology. Dolby Atmos is a new immersive sound system that uses two extra arrays of overhead speakers. The idea is that directors and sound designers can send audio specifically to any speaker within a sound system they want. They can sort of do that now, however Atmos amps up the possibilities to even greater proportions. For example, with full range surround speakers and overhead arrays, immersive sound in theaters will have a greater chance of immersing the viewer in the environment. You can get some serious environmental effects in a live room, but with theaters direct sound is really essential due to the amount of absorption that is present. Atmos seeks to put the sound where it's needed.
"[Peter Jackson] felt it was going to make a big difference in how he tells stories. He doesn't want people to just go and observe his movies. He wants you to feel like you're part of the experience of the stories that's he's trying to tell on the screen and allow you to be part of Middle-earth."
- Stuart Bowling, Dolby's senior technical marketing manager
Dolby's goal is to have the Atmos platform installed in 80 to 100 theaters in time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is scheduled to premiere on Dec. 14. The second and third films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are set for release Dec. 13, 2013, and July 18, 2014. Presumably, the second films in the trilogy will also receive the same treatment... presumably with more supporting theaters.
This isn't the first film to have Atmos. Disney-Pixar's "Brave" debuted the technology earlier this year if you were lucky enough to watch it in a compatible theater. Fox's Chasing Mavericks and Life of Pi will also be released in the Atmos format.
Dolby expects to release over 15 films in Atmos during 2013 when it hopes to end the year with more than 1,000 theaters supporting the technology. Jackson's decision to shoot The Hobbit in 48 fps (frames per second) has garnered a lot of criticism from film buffs, however the use of Dolby Atmos technology has so far been seen only as a boon for theaters trying to differentiate themselves from the traditional home theater.
We'll have to see...
For the life of me I don't know why film buffs would be against 48 fps. Because it is not the original frame rate? Then they should be upset with sound and color.
I don't get it either and I consider myself to be a film buff. IMO, the more FPS, the better the image quality. I can still like my small, minimally produced, unknown actor indy flicks, but if someone wants to blow the doors off with sound and image, I will buy a ticket.
**OK, just checked and there are two theaters with it. One in SF (1hr) and one actually not so far away (20min), so I may have to check it out.
Brave and Taken 2 were also released in Atmos.