Dolby ATMOS: An Earful at “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

Benjamin Cumberbatch in space. Cool.
Benedict Cumberbatch in space. Cool.

I was invited to a presentation of the newly released Dolby® Atmos™ sound system that is being introduced at movie houses around the globe. Earlier today at Consolidated Theatre’s Ward Stadium 16, I and several other media types were shown the new system in the TITAN XC theatre.

Stuart Bowling,  Dolby ATMOS senior cinema technical marketing manager, first talked about how movie theater sound has evolved from front-of-the-room mono and stereo systems, to surround sound, and now to sound that comes from ceiling mounted speakers. Bowling talked about how sound designers can now channel sounds to different speakers. The audience can be compelled to swat at a mosquito in a rainforest, get creeped out when the sound of a creaking rocking chair comes from behind, or pull up the covers during a violent thunderstorm. Don’t look over your left shoulder because that’s where the boogie man is.

Bowling then had us watch clips from “Life of Pi,” “Woman in Black,” and two Dolby trailers. He introduced them with clues and cues and when the last one wrapped up, I realized that as I was wiping the butter off my fingers with a napkin that I could hear it so distinctly. I am a better listener.

Part of the lure that got me to go to the 3-D IMAX presentation was getting to watch “Star Trek Into Darkness” and a free popcorn and drink to go with it. My daughters are chomping at the bit to see the movie, mostly because current British intellectual heart throb Benedict Cumberbatch was starring. As I’m pretty much sold out on Alan Rickman, Cumberbatch fits nicely in my fangirl infatuation program.

When I arrived I could tell I was totally out nerded,  out teched, and out geeked by the rest of the sparse crowd. But really and truly, the smart PR gals at Bennet Group Strategic Communications realize that having someone like me — not a technical writer — not a critical skeptic ready to punch holes in a presentation — will pay off. Come on, right? I got popcorn that was yummy, and I put blue PowerAde in my free cup because I’m a triathlete, and I just want to be amazed and swept away from my reality for a couple of hours. Transport me. Let me look at beautiful people and scenes. Tell me a story that is compelling and causes me to reflect. And mahalo for the invitation!

I’ve read one review of the Star Trek movie before I went to see it, and it wasn’t good. The writer admitted at the end of her rant that she had seen “Ironman 3” a few days before, so maybe that’s why she wasn’t that enamored. Personally, I liked it until it got to the fight scene on the flying cars or whatever they were. Those kinds of scenes drive me crazy.

I’m a Sherlock and a Dr. Who fan, and if you are, too, you will be delighted when you spot a few familiar faces in this Star Trek production. I loved the futuristic take on humanity and other life forms, the 3-D flyovers of the city- and spacescapes, and the jarring thrust of sound when things went boom. The opening sequence was a fun twist on things falling from the sky to a primitive civilization. A little bit of romance, a taste of the future, cool toys and weapons, and a happy ending.

Go. See. Hear.