January 10, 2020

Dolby at the Oscars

Dolby Laboratories proudly celebrates this year’s Academy Award nominees that have used Dolby technologies to bring their films to life - Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. With the help of Dolby technologies, content creators delivered spectacular experiences to audiences globally. Congratulations to the following winners for their excellence in the craft of audio and visual storytelling:

This year, we're proud to share that all nine films nominated for Best Picture, used either Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision technologies, seven of which used both. For 42 consecutive years, Dolby technologies have powered films receiving Academy Award nominations in sound quality, 68 of which have won an Oscar, including the first Star Wars: A New Hope, winner of Best Sound in 1978. Since then, Dolby has been making colossal leaps forward in audio innovation and techniques, and now visual technology, to trail blaze storytelling possibilities for filmmakers, sound artists, and visual designers. Not long after Dolby Atmos first debuted in 2012, five films using the technology were nominated for Best in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The following year, Dolby Vision quickly made its way to the stage in four nominations for Cinematography and Visual Effects. Today, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision together have become the preferred sound and visual technology for Oscar winning filmmakers and artists.

Leading up to the Oscars, Dolby hosted the annual Dolby Oscar Nominee Party, featuring a thought leadership panel, moderated by Glenn Kiser (Head of Dolby Institute), proudly highlighting this year's sound nominees from the four films Joker, Ad Astra, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Ford v Ferrari. The event kicked off with clips from each of the four films (in Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, of course), followed by a panel discussion where we learned more about their creative process, how trends for sound design have changed, and the role Dolby Atmos plays amidst all of this. 
 
The four films discussed that evening used a wide range of styles and techniques to create the soundscape for what are four very different stories. However, the role of sound remained unchanged: to bring the audience into the world of the characters. This is where Dolby Atmos comes in. Sound editor Alan Robert Murray, and sound mixers Tom Ozanich, and Dean Zupancic talk about how they used Dolby Atmos in Joker to "blend the real and not real to create confusion within the character and the audience." With the ability to place sounds in every corner of the room, they were able to create the universe of Gotham, or Arthur's mind when he's standing in the comedy club, so that the audience could "catch all the little details and feel like they are right there with Arthur." 
 
Another common theme discussed that evening was the precision and accuracy of Dolby Atmos. Mark Ulano and Mike Minkler, sound mixers for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, explained the role of sound in Quentin Tarantino's dialogue-driven films. With barely any music score, "hundreds of tiny pieces of sounds are created to build the tapestry of weirdness of [Spahn Movie Ranch]. Dolby Atmos is the tool that allows for this kind of precision that we just didn't have before." Sound editor for Ford v Ferrari, Don Sylvester, shared how they tracked down every single type of car featured in the movie and the importance of Dolby Atmos's ability to capture the accuracy of each rev a different engine produces to create the illusion for the audience that they are right there on the racing track. 
 
"Dolby Atmos gives artists every corner of the room to craft a soundscape that’s as immersive as the stories their films tell," said Glenn Kiser. The panel ended with everyone agreeing that seeing the clips in Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision made them want to rewatch all of the films. In fact, Minkler let us in on the secret that he had missed Ad Astra in the theatres, and was "blown away by the difference, hearing it in Dolby Atmos for the first time." Read more about the event from the top Oscars party wrap ups: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, The Wrap, and Variety.

Dolby Institute/Soundworks Collection Podcast

Interested in diving deeper into how sound mixers and sound editors use Dolby Atmos in their nominated films? Tune into the Dolby Institute/Soundworks Collection Podcast. Now in its 5th season, this series highlights the achievements in nominated films where sound and image play an important role in the storytelling. This year's episodes features nominees for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing to participate for Joker, Ford v Ferrari, 1917, Ad Astra, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and more! Link HERE for episode blurbs.

The Contenders at Dolby SoHo

In anticipation of the Oscars, Dolby launched its 2nd annual Contenders activation to the public at Dolby SoHo on Friday, January 31st, featuring an Oscar-themed canvas to showcase this year's contending films in Dolby, through 11 immersive installations and a classic red carpet. This special exhibit celebrates some of the top nominated films of the year shown in both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Joker, Missing Link, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With original props, costumes and even a vintage 1966 Ford GT40, fans get to interact with these nominated films bringing them closer to the stories and characters in an experience only Dolby can provide.  Check out media coverage from PIX11, Metro, Sound & Vision, Red Tricycle, and NY Metro Parents and our IG StoriesThe Contenders exhibit will be open until February 23rd, and Dolby Soho is free to the public from Wed-Sun, 1-8pm. For more info, please visit the Dolby SoHo website.

Virtual Forest: Ford v Ferrari

Dolby SoHo Cafe: The Irishman

Experience Pod: 1917

Living Room: Joker

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Dolby Theatre

The 92nd Academy Awards was hosted at the Dolby Theatre, renowned as the home of the Oscars. The Dolby Theatre is a 180,000-square-foot, 3,400-seat theatre that amplifies our commitment to science and innovation. Equipped with Dolby AtmosĀ® cinema sound playback, the Dolby Theatre features one of the most sophisticated sound systems in the world. This year marks the 8th year it hosts the Academy Awards.
The 92nd Academy Awards was hosted at the Dolby Theatre, renowned as the home of the Oscars. The Dolby Theatre is a 180,000-square-foot, 3,400-seat theatre that amplifies our commitment to science and innovation. Equipped with Dolby AtmosĀ® cinema sound playback, the Dolby Theatre features one of the most sophisticated sound systems in the world. This year marks the 8th year it hosts the Academy Awards.