Immersive Sound Requires More Than a Standard

The rapid worldwide transition to DCI-compliant digital projection has been nothing less than spectacular. But that success has blinded many people into thinking that standards and/or the DCI specification now rule the industry. This perception is cause for confusion over how the industry will rollout an immersive sound standard.

Hollywood has been distributing proprietary sound formats with movies since the mid-70′s. The relatively recent introduction of formats such as Iosono, Auro 11.1, and Atmos follow in the footsteps of so many formats before. But there is a distinct difference, and this difference is important.

It was the mid-70′s when Dolby introduced its proprietary noise reduction to filmmaking, initiating a revolution in cinema sound. The success of Dolby’s proprietary format did not create a monopoly, however. Unintentionally, Ray Dolby left a gap in the patent for his noise reduction method, allowing one fellow inventor, Jack Cashin, to capitalize by

manufacturing non-infringing but fully interoperable cinema processors. The company was USL. A competitive market was created, instead of a monopoly, to the ultimate benefit of both Dolby and USL. Competition not only validated Dolby’s work, but it provided a stable base on which the industry could grow.

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