Because of the nature of our work, Dolby has lots of friends in Hollywood, and we’re excited for all the winners at this year’s Academy Awards®. But we have to confess to being particularly thrilled to see the many awards bestowed on Gravity and Frozen, two movies that made spectacular use of our Dolby® Atmos™ cinema sound technology.

In the 86th Oscars® celebration, held at the Dolby Theatre® in Hollywood, Frozen won the award for best animated feature film and best original song for the huge hit, “Let It Go.”

Gravity was the biggest winner of the night. In addition to winning both the sound mixing (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro) and sound editing (Glenn Freemantle) awards, Gravity won for directing (Alfonso Cuarón), cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), film editing (Cuarón and Mark Sanger), original score (Steven Price), and visual effects (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, and Neil Corbould).

Making full use of Dolby Atmos

Director Cuarón and his sound team used the capabilities of Dolby Atmos to amazing effect in telling their story of astronauts marooned in space after a swarm of debris destroys their space station.

Dolby Atmos gives filmmakers unprecedented control over their film’s sound. They can place individual sounds anywhere, even over your head, then move those individual sounds precisely around the theatre.

As astronaut Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) is spinning untethered through space, for instance, you hear not only the voice of astronaut Matt Kowalski (played by George Clooney), but the music moving all around you in a Dolby Atmos theatre, making you feel some of the same terrifying disorientation Stone must be feeling.

“When you are able to have sound coming from every single place around you, it’s just like life,” Cuarón told us. “The sound that comes out of the [Dolby] Atmos system is so complex that it can be used in an emotional way.”

Dolby Atmos is “this dream come true. … You really can explore the possibilities of depth and separation as never before,” Cuarón said.

Helping creators create

A major part of Dolby’s mission is to give creative artists the technology they need to communicate their vision, said Doug Darrow, Dolby Senior Vice President for Cinema. That makes the awards given to the Gravity and Frozen teams—particularly the sound awards—very fulfilling.

“It’s wonderful to see what happens when you put powerful tools like Dolby Atmos in the hands of immensely talented and creative filmmakers,” Darrow said.

Dolby Atmos launched in June 2012 and is in use in more than 100 films that have either been released or are in production. Among the upcoming Dolby Atmos films are 300: Rise of an Empire, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

“We can’t wait to see the creative new uses these filmmakers and others find for Dolby Atmos,” Darrow said.