ATMOS Dolby: A Whole New Reason to go to the movies

Jun 6, 2015


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Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” –Walt Disney



It took all of one month for us to finally experience the new Atmos Dolby theatre sound system that sets the new Limketkai Cinemas apart from all the rest but it was worth the wait.


New comfy numbered chairs

New comfy numbered chairs

Sure, there are many good new things about the refurbished cinemas: seats are bigger, better and more comfy, with even provisions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the first row. Aircon is just fine, just enough to fend off the stifling summer heat without freezing your butt off and the screen is okay. Amenities like comfort rooms for every cinema are standard and the seat layout have been upgraded to one level in keeping with the current global cinema trends.


Chair for PWDs

Chair for PWDs

But it’s the Atmos Dolby system which really sets the new Limketkai cinemas apart. Limketkai Marketing Development Officer Tiny Maagad actually invited us to view the new cinemas (1 & 2, that is. 3 & 4 are still undergoing renovation) as early as 24 April or a few days after they re-opened to the public but said we only got to see the facilities since she said would invite us to experience viewing a movie only when one formatted in the Atmos Dolby system was available.


The previous ones screened during the opening were formatted in Dolby 7.1 and were already very good but she said she preferred to have us experience the real Atmos Dolby formatted films once they became available.


Finally, we got our chance last Thursday, 28 May at Limketkai Cinema 1 where I joined five members of the CDO Bloggers invited by Tiny to view the Disney movie “Tomorrowland” starring George Clooney and taglined “Imagine a Place Where Nothing is Impossible.” Indeed, it seemed destined to be a most appropriate choice to showcase what is now the cutting edge in cinema audiology.


Limketkai Mall Marketing Development Officer Tiny Maagad and Taters Manager Benjo Acedera pose for postering with some members of the CDO Bloggers outside Limketkai Cinema 1 (photo by Mike Baños)

Limketkai Mall Marketing Development Officer Tiny Maagad and Taters Manager Benjo Acedera pose for postering with some members of the CDO Bloggers outside Limketkai Cinema 1 (photo by Mike Baños)

After arming ourselves with colas and a huge bag of popcorn courtesy of Taters Manager Benjo Acedera, we proceeded inside where we were ticketed from seats K16 to 24. Yes,Virginia, no needless searching for seats here, the usher will guide you to the exact seat reserved by your ticket which incidentally you can buy offsite at their central ticketing office on the second floor.


The Dolby Atmos system has been creating the aural equivalent of 3D in theatres around the world since June 2012. Perhaps we don’t realize how important audio is to experiencing to a film until you actually experience it.


Ketkai Cinema ticket office

Limketkai Cinema ticket office

The Promenade Mall in Greenhills, San Juan became the first Dolby Atmos cinema in the country when it opened in 2013 and we’re happy Limketkai Cinema is not so far behind and again has another given Cagayan de Oro another first in Mindanao.


The Dolby Atmos system places speakers above the audience and allows film makers to locate sound in a 3D space. The older Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 systems created the illusion of “sense surround” with a speaker based system that ran the sound along a series of speakers,




In contrast, Atmos, creates the illusion of  a helicopter flying overhead by putting the sound at a point in a 3D space where the person, depending on where he’s seated in the theatre, hears the sound from the appropriate speaker.


Atmos sounds like water is falling on a canopy above you in a scene with a storm. When something goes whizzing by your ears it “feels” like it’s actually happening inside the theatre. With “Tomorrowland”, Atmos actually puts you aurally into the middle of the action of what you’re visually seeing on the screen.


New ketkai cinema interiors

New Limketkai cinema interiors

Dolby Atmos technology attains this “immersion in sound” by allowing up to 128 audio tracks plus associated pan metadata to be distributed throughout the theatre for optimal, dynamic rendering to loudspeakers based on the theater’s particular capabilities.


Technically speaking, Dolby Atmos enables the re-recording mixer using a Pro Tools plugin or a Dolby Atmos equipped large format audio mixing console, to designate a particular location in the theater, as a three-dimensional placement, where each dynamic sound source should seem to be coming from.


Sounds that are not dynamically moving, such as ambient sounds and center dialogues, are still separately pre-mixed in a traditional multichannel format. During playback, each theater’s Dolby Atmos system renders all dynamic sounds, from the pan metadata, in real-time to make it seem like each sound is coming from its designated spot, with respect to the speakers present in the target theater.


Traditional multi-channel technology merely burns the audio tracks into a fixed number of channels during post-production. This has constrained the re-recording mixer to make assumptions about the playback environment that may not necessarily apply to a particular theatre, in the sense that its capabilities differ from the mixing stage where the mixer was working.


In addition to playing back a standard 5.1 or 7.1 mix using loudspeakers grouped into arrays, the Dolby Atmos system can also give each loudspeaker its own unique feed based on its exact location, thereby enabling many new front, surround, and even ceiling-mounted height channels for the precise panning of select sounds such as a helicopter or rain.


Good sound is really important for cinema-goers these days. You don’t enjoy your movie if there’s something wrong with the sound. That’s why Dolby has sought to optimize every stage, from the creative idea to post production and exhibition, through Dolby Atmos.


New Ketkai Cinema Escalators

New Limketkai Cinema Escalators

As Dolby’s tagline puts it, Atmos could become “A whole new reason to go to the movies”.


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