If your movie is set in part in the jungle and its characters are surrounded by birds making terrifying screams, you want a sound system that can truly put sounds all around the audience. That’s why director Francis Lawrence chose Dolby® Atmos™ for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
“I’m always interested in making the experience as immersive as possible,” Lawrence said. But the plot of Catching Fire made immersive sound even more important. In this sequel, Catching Fire finds Hunger Games heroes Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) again sent to do battle in the jungle-like arena.
“When you’re in a jungle, you’ve got this kind of sound that sort of surrounds you from every dimension,” Lawrence said. “It’s like above you and off to the sides and down below and all of this. And so to be able to create that feeling for the audience, that feeling that they’re in the jungle with Katniss and Peeta, is a pretty cool thing.
“A lot of our jungle sequences just sound the way they do because of [Dolby] Atmos,” Lawrence said.
Dolby Atmos treats each sound in a film as a separate object that moviemakers can place anywhere in the theatre and then move around as the plot requires. (For a look at where Dolby Atmos fits in the history of cinema, check out our timeline of cinema sound.)
“It’s a new, exciting format because it really is what high-def picture is to standard def,” said Jeremy Peirson, the film’s sound rerecording mixer, supervising sound editor, and sound designer.
The creative freedom allowed by Dolby Atmos was particularly important in the movie’s jabberjay sequence. Katniss and Peeta are surrounded by birds whose calls sound like the anguished screams of the heroes’ loved ones.
“They’re completely surrounded by these birds and completely immersed in them, and so now we can give the audience the same feeling. And it makes it a very intense and sort of psychologically heartbreaking sequence, and part of that is because of [Dolby] Atmos,” Lawrence said
Lawrence said he plans to work in Dolby Atmos again. “It’s the best sound system out there and the best system to work in and the best kind of soundscape,” he said. “It’s the most immersive sound I’ve heard.”