Integrating Sound into The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Wed, 12/18/2013 - 15:49 -- Nick Dager

Park Road Post ProductionThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was brought to life at Park Road Post Production, New Zealand, where the production team mastered both high frame rate stereoscopic 3D at 48 frames per second and immersive Dolby Atmos sound, and integrated it all into the digital cinema package process.

The main tool they used for the task was the DVS Clipster, which allows for the world’s first implemented high frame rate DCI workflow with Dolby Atmos.

Dolby Atmos takes into account each venue’s unique configuration; the sound mix is adjusted to each and every cinema. Instead of assigning audio tracks to discrete channels, 64 objects are available and are freely positioned spatially within the auditorium. Thanks to an intelligent decoder box, sound events are rendered and distributed to the required number of speakers. Thus, Dolby Atmos enhances quality and performance of the surround speaker installation.

On the production side, the audio (dialogue, music and effects) is fed into the Dolby rendering and master unit, which allows flexible rendering for different configurations. The final package is then fed into the DCI mastering pipeline, headed by Clipster. The Clipster generates the final DCP or, to be more precise, the various versions of DCPs required by Park Road. Clipster’s feature set allows creation of a variety of versions, within a very short timeframe, thanks to its unprecedented DCI Mastering performance. Clipster masters the material in 48 fps 3D – plus the respective Atmos track.

In the second The Hobbit film movement appears noticeably crisper and smoother to the viewer – especially with rapid action – 3D comfort is maximized.

Ian Bidgood, technical director at Park Road Post said, “Again, DVS has proven themselves to be the invaluable partner we have become accustomed to. We were extremely happy to continue our innovative partnership that was started on the first part of The Hobbit Trilogy. Once again, DVS’s significant advancements in the Clipster platform along with their absolute willingness to innovate and push the technological boundaries has not only helped to master a 3D HFR DCP with incredible speed, but has now bought Dolby Atmos mastering within the same platform."

Bernhard Reitz, head of product management at DVS said,  "It is a true honor to once again have played a role together with Park Road Post in the The Hobbit Trilogy. It is a stunning testimony of how Clipster is being used for both high frame rate mastering and exquisite DCP creation. We feel very proud that we can once again pioneer with Clipster by including Dolby Atmos in our system. This will undoubtedly add an exceptional dimension of sound on top of a breathtaking image quality to the audience.”    

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Park Road Post Production

Rohde & Schwarz DVS