October 30, 2012

SoundWorks Collection Presents: Making of the 'Chasing Mavericks' Sound Design in Dolby Atmos

SoundWorks Collection has already brought us a number of great videos detailing a part of the process we don't usually get much of a look at it -- the creation and design of that other half of what we do. So far SoundWorks has brought us videos on Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, and more recently, Argo and a rock 'n' roll documentary. Now, they're giving us a look at the biographical Chasing Mavericks, which fictionalizes the late surfer Jay Moriarty's quest to ride The Great Wave. In a film largely taking place on beaches and the ocean, the sound designers were tasked with  characterizing the ocean's sounds in a dramatic context, which probably wasn't all that easy -- especially when it came to mixing the film for Dolby Atmos. Bump the jump to see how the sound team optimized the film's mix for a 42 speaker (18 of which are overhead) Atmos configuation.

Here's the trailer for Chasing Mavericks in case you guys haven't seen it:

It's always interesting to see the balance between realistic representation of a space and dramatic effect that sound designers imbue into a film, and that's no different here. I think the restraint the sound team shows in keeping the character of the ocean low until it really counts for the story is important. What is really notable though is the use of Dolby Atmos. I could make a terribly misguided attempt at analogizing the Atmos system to 3D cinema, but I'll spare you that -- I do believe that such advanced and immersive sound systems could incentivize improved theater-going figures as 3D has, but that's assuming theaters find installing them to be safe investments.

Come to think of it, the potential for immersion that films mixed and heard in Atmos have is in fact similar to the way some of the non-gimmicky use of 3D has been recently. For instance, I was unable to catch Prometheus in 2D at the theater at which I saw that film, and proceeded to make haughty remarks about this -- until I began watching the movie. At one point, the film had to be stopped, which I took as an opportunity to get up for a bit -- and upon my return I found myself asking why the movie looked so blurry. As it turns out, the film's use of 3D was modest enough to actually make me forget that I'd been watching it with glasses on.

I think the proper application of these advancements is key. Atmos could pretty easily be wielded to beat audiences over the head with flashy spatial tricks (though I'm not saying this has ever really happened), but used well could certainly add to that feeling of being truly invested with a film -- and at best, make you forget about the forces at work and allow you to live within a visual (and aural) story for ninety minutes or so.

What do you guys think? Would you prefer your local theater fronted the bucks to make Atmos implementation happen (assuming it hasn't already)? Do you feel such a system could (or should) impact the way mainstream entertainment is presented?

Link: SoundWorks Collection - The Sound of Chasing Mavericks in Dolby Atmos

Your Comment

4 Comments

I say if it's a tool that allows a filmmaker to tell the story, there is no reason not to consider it. If my material played in theatres, I'd love to utilize the Atmos system!

October 30, 2012

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Edge

Saw the movie last night. Don't read the critics. It's really great. Audio was outstanding especially with the big waves. I don't know how they did it but they did a great job.

October 30, 2012

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The movie "Hoffa" (1992) has a scene where a float plane lands on a lake. The sound was 70MM 6 track. Your looking at the lake and you hear the sound of a plane from the back of the theater, then the floats drop-in from the top of the screen and the plane lands on the lake. This was very effective as 6 track, but with Atmos would have been mind-blowing.

For me, 3D sound provides a better experience than 3D picture.

As was shown in the video Foley Artists and Effects Recordists are very important in getting exceptional sound.

October 30, 2012

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c.d.embrey

Yes, more Atmos action!

October 31, 2012

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Tyler