Science & Tech Jeffrey Riedmiller

Designing Dolby AC-4 to Enable Next-Generation Entertainment

I think quite a bit about what I call the “Hollywood to home” experience—delivering an artist’s vision, the way the artist intended, to any device, anywhere, at any time, in great quality.

This is actually a bigger challenge than it seems. Audiences expect to be able to view a program whenever, wherever, and on whatever platform they choose. So how do you ensure the content creator’s intent is replicated with integrity as well on a 6-inch phone as it is on a 65-inch TV screen?

Part of the solution to anytime, anywhere content is Dolby® AC-4. As part of the next-generation broadcast standards, Dolby AC-4 brings together a number of technology advancements needed to deliver the more efficient, more customized, and more meaningful experiences for content creators, broadcasters, and consumers alike.

Here are a few of the benefits we’ve engineered Dolby AC-4 to deliver:

  • Compression efficiency: Efficient use of spectrum is a high priority in an industry that’s pushing more content, more value, and more richness with limited bandwidth. Next-generation broadcast—that’s capable of delivering Ultra HD video accompanied with immersive sound, in multiple languages (including support for accessibility)—needs to deliver more with less. Audio and video coding systems that offer the most efficient use of spectrum (or available bandwidth) will win by delivering the highest value to the industry. Dolby AC-4 makes this possible by leveraging a state-of-the-art compression engine that is 50 percent more efficient than today’s systems.
  • Personalization: Viewers are used to choosing the content they want to watch. The next step is to enable personalized experiences with that content. By efficiently transmitting several audio presentations simultaneously, Dolby AC-4 allows viewers to choose the audio experiences they want. For instance, sports fans can decide to focus on the announcers, or just listen to the crowd and imagine they’re in the stadium. Also, our native dialogue enhancement technology makes it possible for viewers to adjust the level of dialogue to their taste—ensuring they never miss an important line.
  • Broadband support: With connected devices, broadcast streams don’t need to rely solely on airwaves to deliver quality content. Through connected TVs and gateways, broadcasters will have the ability to leverage a viewer’s broadband connection to deliver even higher quality, more immersive and personalized experiences.
  • Diverse reach: Dolby AC-4 includes a number of native features that enable a single AC-4 stream, and all of the experiences contained within it, to be optimized during playback across today’s broad device and application landscape. This speaks to another aspect of Dolby AC-4’s efficiency: having the confidence and industry trust to efficiently scale experiences remains important for broadcasters and content creators.
  • Immersive audio: With Dolby Atmos®, we’ve shown just how good audio can be in the cinema, in the living room, and on mobile devices. Audio that can be placed and moved anywhere around us, including overhead, engages our senses (auditory system) in a more natural way.
  • Native loudness and dynamic range control: Dolby AC-4 technology intelligently manages loudness and dynamic range, while also including capabilities for ensuring that (CALM) compliant work done upstream in production is not compromised (or undone just prior to transmission).
  • Ease of use: Dolby AC-4 features built-in self-configuration and automation tailored for day-to-day broadcast operations (including automated and intelligent loudness, dynamic range control, native dialogue enhancement, and synchronized bitstream switching aligned with video).

We know that a new broadcast standard also means a different way of doing things. We’re actively working with our broadcast and industry partners to integrate and operationalize Dolby AC-4, and realize the unique ways they can package, deliver, and monetize content. It’s a priority for Dolby to support the industry and our partners throughout the deployment process to ensure a seamless and successful transition to the next generation of broadcast.

Dolby will continue working with the industry to deliver on the “Hollywood to home” promise, and Dolby AC-4 will bring viewers ever closer to the content creator’s vision, delivering the optimum—and amazing—experiences regardless of where, when, and how viewers watch and listen.

More than seven decades of home entertainment have been translating, adapting and delivering amazing entertainment experiences to fit in the living room. With AC-4, Dolby is excited to deliver more, with greater fidelity, than ever before in the home and on the go.