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Dolby Cinema for Filmmakers and Audiences

Jourdan Aldredge

What really makes the Dolby Cinema experience so unique? Let’s take a look.

It began with an English photographer giving a lecture and projecting hand-drawn images onto a screen at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Over the next few decades Nickelodeon theaters would begin to pop up showing “moving pictures” to astounded audiences all over the world. From there, as technology would continue to advance and feature films would takeover, cinema would become one of the most powerful, and possibly important, forms of entertainment in modern human history.

The movie and film industry has certainly evolved over the years, but shades of the earliest image-on-screen adaptations are still part of our cinema experience. But where are we actually today? And when filmmakers shoot films, and audiences go to movie theaters, what type of format and projects are we actually using?

One of the most popular—and prevalent—screening formats currently in the world is Dolby Cinema and their unique cinema experience. Let’s explore Dolby Cinema, where it came from, and how it works. We’ll also look towards what the future of cinema might have to offer.


What is Dolby Cinema?

First off, what is Dolby Cinema and how does it compare to the other formats that you might find at your local movie theater? Simply put, Dolby Cinema is one of the premiere large format cinema setups that utilizes Dolby’s unique technologies like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (more on those below). Dolby Cinema is comparable to other large format cinemas from Cinemark and Regal, as well as IMAX which it was developed to compete against.

According to the company itself, “only Dolby Cinema can provide you with a truly unique and transformative experience, where you connect deeply with the story. You’ll feel like you’re stepping into the lives of the characters and the world the filmmaker created for you.”

Due to its proprietary technologies, many filmmakers and film-goers regard Dolby Cinema as one of the best cinematic experiences currently available for watching everything from major blockbusters to mid-budget indies.


The History of Dolby Cinema

Founded in the 1960s, Dolby Laboratories has always been a legacy brand in sound compression and audio noise reduction technologies. However, while those products are still very much in their wheelhouse, the company would eventually move into video processing.

From there, as Dolby became much more of a recognized name in the industry. With their priority audio technology already installed in cinemas and theaters across the globe, and with advancements in digital technology, the company would again eventually venture further into digital cinema. Dolby eventually developed its own flagship format with Dolby Cinema, which itself is partnered with AMC for further implementation.

The first Dolby Cinema was developed and installed in 2014 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Today there are over 200—and counting—full Dolby Cinemas across the world. That number is even higher when you start to count Dolby Atmos-enabled screens.


What Makes Dolby Cinema so Great?

The difference with Dolby Cinema compared to a traditional standard or digital cinema experience has to do with a lot of elements. However, the biggest has to do with the laser projects. For Dolby Cinema, we’re talking dual 4K modular laser projects that can project up to three times the luminance of traditional 3D.

This Dolby Vision 4K laser projection system produces a crisp image with better brightness, color coverage, and sharper contrast compared to other xenon projectors you might have seen in theaters pre-Dolby Cinema. Dolby Vision is flexible as well. It can display a variety of combinations for resolution and frame rate, including:

  • 2K – 2D at 120 fps, 60 fps, 48 fps and 24 fps
  • 4K – 2D at 48 fps, 30 fps and 24 fps
  • 8K – 2D at 48 fps, 30 fps and 24 fps

Along with Dolby Vision, Dolby Cinema also includes their unique 3D surround sound audio format called Dolby Atmos. This feature includes up to sixty-four speakers (as well as up to 128 audio inputs) to create its iconic “wall of sound” and help fully immerse an audience in the cinema experience.

Overall, Dolby Cinema offers one of the most immersive formats for filmmakers and film-goers alike. And as you can see in the video above, while there are comparable large formats to consider, the most ambitious blockbusters are always going to look for the biggest and best experience to entice theater goers.


The Future of Cinema Formats

It’s easy to point out though that since Dolby Cinema’s introduction in 2014, the film industry continued to change and evolve. There are more and more large format competitors, and from name-recognition alone IMAX will draw its own audience as well.

However, in the wake of recent events, the industry might also be shifting in new directions that don’t favor large format and huge crowds. Rather, the future of cinemas might have to be either in living rooms, or possibly in virtual reality.

And while Dolby Cinema is still one of the biggest and best large format experiences currently available, it’s important for filmmakers to keep up with these trends and technological advancements. Film itself has always been a reflection of how society communicates and evolves.


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