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Iosono, Todd-AO Launch First 3-D Sound Mixing Facility

Iosono, Todd-AO Launch First 3-D Sound Mixing Facility
Iosono announces that Todd-AO has become the first sound facility in the United States to acquire the ability to mix feature films in its revolutionary “3-D sound” format. Proprietary Iosono technology has been added to Stage 2 at Todd-AO’s Burbank facility allowing mixers to create three-dimensional film soundtracks.

Initially targeted at stereoscopic 3-D movies and theme park attractions, the Iosono format, developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology, marks a clear break with movie sound technologies of the past. Based on the principle of “wavefield synthesis,” the Iosono system results in a rich, truly three-dimensional sound experience that NPR has called “a breathtaking synchronization in sound” that “breaks the fourth wall between the audience and the performance.” Todd-AO expects to mix its first project using the new system this fall.

“Media are becoming more and more immersive—an example of this global trend is the successful introduction of 3-D cinema,” says Dr. Karlheinz Brandenburg, founder of Iosono and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology. “Iosono enables immersive sound, far more perfect than anything that has been tried before. It is a big step forward for the entertainment business.”

“We believe that Iosono 3-D Sound holds the potential to transform the movie-going experience, providing a rich, astonishingly realistic sound environment that audiences will find thrilling,” adds Robert C. Rosenthal, president of CSS Studios, parent company of Todd-AO. “Our mixers and other sound artists are excited about the potential of this technology and we are very pleased to introduce it to Hollywood through Todd-AO, a company synonymous with innovation and excellence in motion picture sound.”

“Iosono’s algorithm and the large speaker array create sound waves in free space that audiences perceive as sounds originating from anywhere within the 3-D sound field,” explains CSS Studios Senior Vice President of Engineering Bill Johnston. “The creative possibilities are immense and, frankly, intimidating to creative personnel who have to re-imagine the impact on the theatrical environment. That challenge coupled with the possibilities are what make the Iosono technology so intriguing.”

In preparation for working with the new format, Stage 2 at Todd-AO Burbank has been outfitted with an encompassing array of 672 speakers reproducing 224 audio channels and delivering 44,000 watts of amplification. Four Iosono render PCS have also been added, as well as an Iosono Spatial Audio Workstation, or SAW, an authoring tool that allows a mixer to work in the 3-D Sound environment.

“The SAW is designed to be easy to understand for any mixer who has used a multichannel panner,” notes Iosono Senior Vice President of Studio Technologies Brian Slack. “What happens with the sound once the mixer starts moving it in, out and around the room is unique. That is where the talent and aesthetic of the individual mixer comes into play.”

Todd-AO has been beta testing the Iosono technology since 2005 and advising the company on how to adapt it to the theatrical market. Todd-AO Re-Recording Mixer Marc Fishman and Supervising Sound Editor Mark Stoeckinger of Soundelux are among those who’ve had a chance to use the technology. “With Iosono, we are entering a new era in sound reproduction,” Fishman said. “Iosono has no sweet spot, it’s fully enveloping and the creative possibilities are without borders. Just as new technologies have changed the visual presentation of film, Iosono adds a new dimension to film sound.”

“Iosono delivers what 5.1 only promised,” added Stoeckinger.

Iosono 3-D Sound also requires a modification of the movie theater environment. To date a number of theaters and other venues have been adapted to support the technology, including Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Iosono expects another 50 theaters to install the system in the U.S. in advance of its formal launch next year.

Although the technology has an obvious application to stereoscopic 3-D movies and theme park attractions, Iosono believes that 3-D Sound can also enhance conventional “2-D” films. Eventually, the company plans also to adapt the technology for the consumer home theater market.

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