“The next big thing”… in today’s fast paced world, we hear about the latest life-changing piece of technology almost daily. We ourselves in the home tech world are particularly guilty of it, constantly writing blog after blog, holding meeting after meeting, trying to predict and fully understand the ubiquitous phrases thrown at us every day.
Big Data. Low Energy Transmissions. The Internet of Things. Wearable Technology. Self-boiling Kettles.
Every marketer worth his salt has by now picked up on our insatiable thirst for technology. “The next big thing” ranges from the vast conceptual technologies which are changing the socio-economic world (but which the vast majority of individuals, whether they admit it or not, aren’t 100% on the details), to the downright mundane.
So you’d be forgiven in thinking anything entitled ‘The Sound of Tomorrow’ was at best grossly optimistic, at worst gimmicky. Auro 3D, however, falls into neither category. The latest concept behind immersive cinema, Auro3D uses the latest generation sound technology to captivate an increasingly demanding audience. Courtesy of cinema giants Pulse Marketing & Datasat Digital Entertainment, Inspired Dwellings visited the home of this technology, Galaxy Studios, to check out the latest hype & chat to Principal founder & Co-owner Wilfried Van Baelen…
"Sound helps the illusion of the film come to life. The same way music brings back different periods of our lives."
Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Conversation)
Auro 3D: What is it?
Designed on three layers of sound (traditional surround, height & in-ceiling), "The goal of Auro-3D is to create the most natural sound experience possible” explains Wilfried, who first founded the 3D technology back in 2005.
The concept is built upon realism, enhancing traditional surround sound, which is located at ear-height, with two higher levels of sound, culminating in highly natural, localized reality.
The difference is startling. Not only does it create localised sound (imagine closing your eyes in the cinema and actually hearing birds chirp in the eaves and helicopters flying overhead) – it also allows helps the director get true reflections of the low level sound.
That means that large bodies of sounds (explosions, lighting, voice overs) are no longer relegated to the generic ‘left or right’ of the cinema. Instead they become circumambient, the main sound wave stemming from a particular group of speakers, with the smaller echoes, reverberations and subsequent noise naturally dissipating through surrounding speakers.
Galaxy Studios is an hour’s ride outside of Antwerp, Belgium, and has been a mecca for sound recording and cinematic post-production for 25 years. It’s now the proud home of Auro 3D technology, making it the ideal place to showcase the next wave of cinematic immersion to a selection of London’s finest Home Technology Consultancies.
An impressive setting the large cinema itself is used for the sound mixing of global cinema, and features a large mixing desk and 59-loudspeaker Meyer Sound cinema system. “80% of the sound energy comes from the screen” Wilfried explained, which accounted for the 6 screen channel loudspeakers, surrounded by 44 surround loudspeakers and 9 powerful subwoofers.
Well versed in the complexities of home cinema and with the majority having already experienced rival technology, Dolby Atmos in action a few months earlier (also courtesy of Pulse Marketing – if these guys aren’t already on your Christmas list, they really should be), it was interesting to note the reactions to what was, if we’re honest, a pretty flat plotline. The emotional connection felt by the audience, particular through relationship or emotive-based scenes, was palpable. Fully grown men perched on the edge of their seat, necks craning, mouths open as gales rushed overhead, rising water surrounded us, and the sound of rescue flew further and further into the distance.
As with all aspects of cinema, sound is most effective when used sparingly. The following day’s demonstration showcased the more subtle power of Auro 3D, submerging us into animations, action sequences and romance scenes, with amazing clarity. Of course memory can be a tricky thing, and it could have been the post-pinot noir atmosphere, but the overwhelming feeling was that the Atmos had pipped Dolby to the post in terms of realism.
Passionate, & with a cracking pair of trousers, Co-Founder Wilfried then talked us through his brain child with the perfect mix of clarity and enthusiasm. Difficult questions were answered fluidly (see below) and the technical aspects of sound mixing in 3D were delved into. We were also given a tour of the rest of the studios, which includes several insulated studio bunkers (for full acoustic control), mixing areas, editing suites – even a trip to the studio foundations, which are held up by specially fashioned metal springs, designed to bring the frequency of each room to less than 3Hz. Seeing the complexity and depth this technology is founded upon, it’s not surprising that each member of the 36 strong group walked away with a reawakened enthusiasm for home cinema. We’re all in this industry because we’re passionate about technology, we want the best sound and vision.
As we know from experience, this really isn’t something you can take our word on. If you’re thinking about, currently designing or even renovating your existing, home cinema, why not give us a call. With demonstration facilities based just outside of Stansted, friends of Inspired Dwellings & their families can experience the benefits of 3D sound for themselves.
How does Auro 3D translate into a home cinema environment?
Our job is to translate this immersive quality into the home environment. The good news is that the 3D technology is totally scalable to a residential system.
Having teamed up with our hosts & world leader’s in audio visual solutions, Datasat Digital Technologies, along with big brands Denon, Marantz & Barco Projectors, Auro 3D is set to transform the luxury home cinema market in the next few years. Not as expensive as you may think, Inspired Dwellings are already distributing home cinema packages allowing customers to take full advantage of the new generation of 3D sound cinema releases.
What can we expect in terms of movie content?
The amount of Hollywood content is due to rocket in 2015, with big name 2014 releases already including Hungergames: Mockingjay Part One, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Elysium & Rise of the Guardians, along with numerous blockbuster Bollywood titles.
And with the backing of large scale studio such as Dreamworks Animation, Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox, along with support from George Lucas, Gavin Hood & David Leitch, its clear immersive cinema is set to become the norm - not just in the local Odeon, but your own home.
What’s the difference between Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos?
The first difference is that Auro 3D is a channel-based system whereas Dolby Atmos is object-based.
A traditional channel based system mixes all the sound elements (dialogue, diagetic sound, music etc), layers them over multiple audio tracks, and pushes the sound toward a specific speaker, or group of speakers. Auro 3D enhances this typical surround sound effect, by adding two additional levels of speakers, and using the excess in a standard 24bit mix to naturalise sounds (echoes, vibrations, etc).
Dolby Atmos creates flexible ‘sound objects’ – balls of sound which use metadata to travel to any area of the cinema, which are then distributed by the relevant speakers in the space provided.
Both techniques are designed to heighten the naturalism of a film, fully immersing the viewer in the action.
"When music and images gel they can take the audience's brains to another plane emotionally and dramatically." Alan Parker (Birdy, Evita)
"The best soundtrack music by-passes your mind and goes straight to your soul. It sort of trips something in your brain, you know you're being transported." Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous)
"A film without music is one-legged. And I would prefer not to make cinema rather than return to an age without cinematic music."Patrice Chéreau (La Reine Margot, Intimacy)
“Music brings something more…lets us feel the rhythm that the characters have inside themselves." Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
"The marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have. You can take almost any edited visual film sequence and change the emotion and feelings engendered by the use of music.”Norman Jewison (The Thomas Crown Affair, Moonstruck)