How the Dolby Theatre Goes From Movie Palace to Oscars Home

It’s not surprising to see Meryl Streep accepting an Oscar®, but you wouldn’t expect to see her setting up the speakers before the ceremony. That’s why Dolby VP David Gray is unique—he’s an Oscar winner who also leads a team each year that prepares the Dolby Theatre® to host the Academy Awards® ceremony.

Gray, who won an Oscar statuette at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony on February 7, presides over one of the most elaborate quick changes in entertainment, when a team of Dolby employees transforms the Dolby Theatre from one of the country’s greatest movie palaces to the home of the Oscars.

Not surprisingly, making major changes to an enormous, 180,000-square-foot, 3,400-seat theatre is no mean feat. The team has to stash away the massive movie screen, remove some speakers and install new ones, and take out tons of cables (take a look at the infographic below for more details).

But after transforming the theatre the past two years, Gray and his team have the job down to a science. In fact, it took them only a day to pack up all of the equipment they needed to remove from the auditorium and move it safely into storage. “We’ve become more efficient in moving equipment and making sure nothing gets damaged,” Gray said.

Improved sound

Gray’s team even found time to make some significant upgrades to improve the surround sound experience for this year’s Oscars. They’ve added surround sound to the Mezzanine Two level of the theatre and permanent acoustic panels to Mezzanine Three. With the changes, more of the Oscars audience will enjoy the night’s musical performances and film clips in 5.1 Dolby® surround sound.

And broadcasters in many parts of the world will be broadcasting the February 22 ceremony in surround sound. In the United States, coverage begins on ABC at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. Regional broadcasts of the event will be available on Sky Movies Oscars, HBO Asia, and Star Movies India.

Now that you’re read all about the Oscars and the Dolby Theatre, take our Facebook quiz to test your knowledge.

Photograph Ⓒ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences