“Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound can make a 3D image even more 3D,” asserts Erik Aadahl, supervising sound editor on Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” writes Carolyn Giardina. “7.1 and 3D are brothers and sisters; they are great working together and help elevate each other.” Dolby’s 7.1 Surround format launched a year ago and was first used on Toy Story 3. Aadahl might be one of the most experienced 7.1 sound editors in the world, having already completed three 3D feature films in the format, including the latest Transformers, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Megamind. “I feel really strongly that sound can make the perception of 3D even greater,” said Aadahl, who presented at a recent Dolby press event in San Francisco. “If I am, for example, realising a sound in the distance, that image will feel even deeper. If I’m bring something right past your head, the visuals will seem to come out even further.” Dolby 7.1 uses eight channels of audio with a channel layout that includes left, centre, right, low-frequency effects, left surround, right surround, back surround left and back surround right.
In addition to the film’s that Aadahul worked on, 3D Hollywood movies that used the 7.1 format include Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2 and Tron: Legacy. It has also been used in other markets. For instance, director Rohan Sippy was the first to tap the 7.1 format in India on Dum Maaro Dum, a (2D) feature that was mixed at Futureworks in Mumbai. Dolby is also working on ways to bring the sound format to the home, via television and mobile devices.
“There is no reason that 7.1 wouldn’t be just as possible as 5.1 (for over the air broadcasting), especially with Dolby Digital Plus (digital audio compression scheme), which is more efficient that Dolby Digital and provides incredible fidelity at very low bit rates,” explains Dolby’s Jaime Goodyear. “It works in any situation where bandwidth is a concern. That is true of over the air, satellite, cable and it’s also true for OTT services.”