Filmmaker Rodney Vance first became aware of Dolby® Atmos™ sound when he attended a demonstration last September. “I heard it and it blew me away. It was a whole new world of sound…. I thought, ‘We’ve got to find a way to do this with this documentary film.’”

Napa Valley Dreams: From Soil to Soul features time-lapse cinematography of star-laden skies above a valley that attracts seekers of all kinds. Vance interviewed resident winemakers, farmers, artists, musicians, and others who have come here to pursue everything from farming to healing and from mountain biking to hot-air ballooning.

Vance, who is the writer, director, and producer of Napa Valley Dreams, and his crew created the film’s sound mix to produce the world’s first documentary in Dolby Atmos. The movie will play daily for three years in California’s Napa Valley at the Cameo Cinema in St. Helena.

Vance recently visited Dolby Laboratories to talk about the film.  

Q: When do you start thinking about sound when working on a film like this?

Rodney Vance (RV): The goal of the film is to root us in a very specific location. The tag line of the film is “From Soil to Soul,” and the soil is so important in that. And being specifically in this spot, that anything universal can happen out of that, but it’s got to be grounded in that specific reality.

 What struck me when I first heard this demonstration is that [Dolby] Atmos sound does that.

Q: In what scenes did Dolby Atmos help you draw audiences into the story in a new way?

RV: We go very quickly into the night harvest with the grapes, and it’s the sound of the tractors all around us, the clipping of the shears as they’re picking the grapes off the vine, that really showcase what Dolby Atmos can do right off the bat in the film. It draws us fully into that world and grounds us in that reality right at the beginning…you actually feel the chill of the day because of the sound.

Q: What does great sound bring to a documentary that might go unnoticed in another genre?

RV: Documentary is all about making you believe that what you’re looking at is real and is not artificial.

I think that’s the chief virtue of [Dolby] Atmos sound: its ability to persuade us that we are present. That will work for any documentary film.

What landscape or environment would you like to see captured on film with Dolby Atmos?