Film Journal International spoke with Michael Archer, Vice President, Worldwide Cinema Sales at Dolby Laboratories to get the latest insights on what Dolby is offering in the product space to drive innovations in digital cinema.
Q. What are Dolby’s new product offerings this year?
A. We have several new products and solutions launching this year. The Dolby Integrated Media Server 3000 (IMS3000), which combines the strength of Dolby’s audio processing and image playback into one server. Moreover, you can choose to unlock the power of Dolby Atmos whenever you want by purchasing a full Dolby Atmos license for the unit.
Our Dolby Multichannel Amplifier is also launching this year with an advanced high-density design. It can replace up to 16 stereo amplifiers in its 32 channel configuration. The Dolby Multichannel Amplifier is also available in a 24 channel model at launch.
We are also offering the latest SLS Audio innovations in loudspeakers and rigging technologies.
The SLS Audio 3-Axis speakers deliver exceptionally clear and powerful sound in a smaller, lighter package that’s easier and quicker to install. Because each spherical speaker can be mounted in the ceiling or wall, and is easily adjusted for pan, tilt, and rotation, installation time and costs are reduced.
The SLS Audio Rapid Rigging System complements new or existing speakers with an innovative rigging design that simplifies installation to reduce labor costs and downtime. The Rapid Rigging System enables theatre installers to more easily install speakers and cabling with existing high-voltage power into the rigging system for deployment into an auditorium.
We also offer a vast SLS speaker suite that provides flexibility and can cater to the diverse needs of our customers.
Q. What are the unique features of the Dolby Multichannel Amplifier and how does it benefit exhibitors?
A. The Dolby Multichannel Amplifier can replace up to 16 stereo amplifiers, using less space and producing less heat, to lower your overall costs. With less equipment to install, power, and maintain, you get a simpler and more efficient installation.
Q. What is unique in Dolby’s new IMS3000? And what are the benefits?
A. The Dolby IMS3000 offers an imaging server and audio processor in one, saving money and valuable space in the projection booth. Exhibitors can start with Dolby Audio 5.1 or 7.1; and when they are ready, exhibitors can purchase a license upgrade to a full Dolby Atmos playback experience to immerse patrons more deeply into the story.
The IMS3000, with the integrated audio processor simplifies your cinema system and design costs. Using the AES-67 digital audio output enables you to run only a single CAT6 line to a modern, digital audio amplifier system such as our Dolby Multichannel Amplifier. Furthermore, when an IMS3000 is coupled with one of our Dolby Multichannel Amplifiers, you can reduce your audio system requirements to a single rack of equipment with room to spare.
Q. Why is the SLS Audio product suite of speakers now part of Dolby’s product offerings?
A. First and foremost, Dolby acquired SLS Audio with the purpose of securing a talented team and differentiated technologies that we could focus on the reduction of cost of ownership of Dolby Atmos installations while also offering new ribbon-based speaker choices to our exhibition partners.
Our new Rapid Rigging System, which is agnostic to speaker manufacturer, and the Dolby Multichannel Amplifier came out of our SLS Audio team.
Furthermore, we have some exciting ideas and innovations to bring to our speaker lineup to not only further differentiate our speaker offering independently, but also further fulfill our desire to more tightly integrate our audio and image playback chain.
Q. Are exhibitors upgrading to Dolby Atmos only in their PLF or large auditoriums?
A. Dolby Atmos is not just for the premium large format (PLF) screens or biggest rooms. There is still some confusion in the marketplace about Dolby Atmos being intended strictly for a circuit’s biggest rooms (PLF rooms, 300+ seats). Not so: Dolby Atmos is very flexible and can be installed in smaller rooms (VIP configurations, 100+ seats). For example, AMC’s Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles just installed Dolby Atmos across all 18 screens making it the largest, all complex wide deployment of Dolby Atmos in the US. In addition, many exhibitors around the globe are moving to this trend in bringing a premium sound experience to every auditorium in the complex because their patrons are noticing the difference. Exhibitors sites including United Cinemas (Melbourne, Australia), PVR ICON Cinemas (Andheri, India), Real Cinemas (Dubai), DT Cinemas (Noida, India), Suncity Cinema (Mumbai, India), Shanghai Duo Yun Xuan (Shanghai, China), and the Sky Cinema (Hong Kong) among others around the globe have done full complex implementations. We have also seen many sites add additional Dolby Atmos play down screens to their complexes. Dolby has invested significantly in research and development to provide more cost effective solutions for Dolby Atmos.
The continuous flow of Dolby Atmos content has helped accelerate Dolby Atmos installations to over 2,700 screens worldwide. Currently, more than 650 Dolby Atmos titles have been released or announced to date by all major studios, giving exhibitors a wide variety of content to offer its patrons.
Q. How do the various Dolby products work together to create an integrated cinema solution?
A. Dolby offers a full range of audio, imaging, accessibility, and content management solutions designed to give audiences the most spectacular, fully immersive cinema experience available to date.
Dolby has been collaborating with dealers, exhibitors, and the industry at large to bring the most efficient, cost-effective, flexible solutions to theaters around the world. Our IMS3000 combines Dolby audio and image processing in one unit. When coupled with our Dolby Multichannel Amplifier and SLS Express Series, together, they offer an enhanced feature set that cannot be realized when used independently or mixed with other manufacturer’s products. An integrated solution affords Dolby a wider pallet to bring innovation throughout the entire image and audio chain that will exceed any of those designed into a single product.