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This One Goes to 62.2: Showplace ICON Theater Debuts Dolby "3D Sound"

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 22, 2012 4:20PM

2012_06_22_dolby.jpg When it comes to catching a new movie in wide release at a local megaplex, sometimes it pays to splurge for the V.I.P. balcony at the Kearasotes Showplace ICON. A full bar whose beverages can be taken into the theater and enjoyed with bacon popcorn in the extra-roomy, extra comfortable seats? Twist our arm, why don't you. This weekend the ICON offers an extra treat: it is one of only 14 theaters in the country to showcase a new "3D Sound" technology from Dolby at screenings of Pixar's Brave.

Dolby has dubbed the new audio platform Atmos and billed it as the successor to 7.1 Surround. Nobody not named Phil Spector pines for the days of Mono, but the march from mono to stereo to 5.1 surround sound to 7.1 surround sound can make one's head spin. Are we ready for 64 separate channels and two arrays of overhead speakers? Well that depends.

Brave is the first film mixed entirely for the new system, and sound designer Gary Rydstrom, whose work on Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan and Terminator 2 snagged Academy awards, seems like the perfect choice to take it through its paces. With the ability to place sound in any one of the 64 speaker channels, Atmos promises to allow a full "hemisphere" of sound. Expect horses hooves all around you and lots of arrows whizzing around you.

When Dolby sprung for 20-year naming rights for the oscar venue formerly known as the Kodak theater they wasted little time hanging overhead speakers on trusses and showing off their new system. The baroque array of speakers sure looks impressive, but whether it proves to be more than a gimmick will of course depend on how technicians employ it. At least we won't have to wear headphones.

About Dolby Atmos from Dolby Laboratories on Vimeo.