The Sight and Sound Story
With OTT content being all the rage now, we speak with audio expert, Dolby, on the part it’s playing to improve the quality of home entertainment
Famous American architect Louis Isadore Kahn said, “To hear a sound, is to see a space.” With all of us forced to separate from cinema theatres—and embrace OTT platforms—this topic of sound and what it means to a film becomes particularly relevant now. Ashim Mathur, Senior Regional Director, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories, shares that this is very much a focus area. “Among our many goals is to provide an immersive experience through televisions. There’s also focus on entertainment consumed on handheld electronic devices," he says.
Synonymous with quality audio in our country, Dolby has made massive strides technologically and has fostered an environment where consumers are mindful of sound quality when making their choice of cinema venue. Dolby Atmos is seen as a big breakthrough. “Earlier there were constraints in mixing movies in channel-based audio. Filmmakers were not able to tell their stories the way they wanted to. Dolby Atmos, an object-oriented audio format as opposed to the channel-based audio system, was born as a result of all that feedback," says Ashim.
With the growing stature of OTT platforms in the entertainment industry, the need to provide the highest quality of entertainment in our living spaces has now become paramount. "We work with sound engineers and other technical leaders in India to ensure there is a direct connection with the industry right from the content developing stage. On the distribution side, we have our technology present in set-top boxes and streaming platforms. Both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio technologies are present even in handheld devices," says Ashim.
As he talks about Dolby technologies being present even in mobile phones, he acknowledges that the big hurdle is consumer awareness. "Though the technology is available across multiple brands and price ranges, I agree that awareness is important. We are working with partners at retail, for example, to enhance this." The organisation, he says, is constantly looking to innovate. “Dolby ATMOS was a result of such an innovation, and now, we also have Dolby Vision HDR, our visual technology. Dolby Vision brings entertainment to life with ultra-vivid picture quality — incredible brightness, contrast, colour, and detail. The fusion of Dolby Vision and the superior immersive quality of Dolby Atmos transforms your televisions into entertainment powerhouses," says Ashim. "We are working with all our partners —directors, sound designers, colorists — and equipping them with the knowledge to use this technology optimally." Technology is not waiting for theatres to reopen though, given that Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos content is available in Indian markets through streaming services like Apple TV+, Prime Video, Eros Now and Netflix. Some recent titles like Yeh Ballet, Guilty and Betaal are streaming on Dolby Vision and or in Dolby Atmos.
When people talk about the theatre experience not being replicated in their smartphones or smart TVs or their regular phones and TVs, the sound is a big factor of comparison. How is a company like Dolby planning to bridge this gap? "At the core of Dolby's operation is the content creator's vision and of course, consumer satisfaction. Having said that, every segment, be it theatres, televisions or mobile phones, is an experience unto itself. You cannot compare. However, we are constantly looking to improve, and consumer feedback is a big factor," signs off Ashim.