It's abundantly clear at this point, after the tepid reaction to his “The Hobbit” visual showcase at CinemaCon, that Peter Jackson now faces an even more intense public battle in his push for increased frame rates in film. True to his pioneer spirit though, Jackson has continued to seek innovation, and now it's reported that he looks to add a new auditory element to the nuclear testing ground that is “The Hobbit.”
THR reports that Dolby and Jackson have been in talks to test run the company's newest sound format, Dolby Atmos, with possible inclusion in the two-part “The Hobbit” film. The Atmos format consists of many speakers surrounding the auditorium and on the ceiling, giving an immersive experience with each focused directional effect. Technically, the system will also transport up to 128 simultaneous and lossless audio channels, and render from 5.1 up to 54 discrete speaker feeds.
Perhaps to his benefit, Jackson will not have public opinion riding on his use of Atmos in “The Hobbit,” since Dolby revealed plans to test the system on Pixar's “Brave” first when it opens June 22nd. For the Pixar trial run, Dolby hopes to outfit ten to fifteen theatres worldwide with the system, making the L.A. home to the Oscars, the Dolby Theatre, the first installation. If everything goes well, Dolby wants to extend its use to home theatre sound, tablets, laptops and mobile devices.
As “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” nears its release at year's end, news of the actual film has unfortunately paled in comparison to the technical reactions. Let's not forget the video blogs released during filming, which were fantastic, but it does seem focus has shifted, and somewhat rightfully so. Jackson is painting his film to be a game changer for cinema, but let's hope he doesn't forget he's also presenting the newest chapter in one of the most anticipated and beloved series of all time.