December 3, 2013

On the Surround Recording of Orchestra at the Jesus Christ Church in Dahlem Berlin [Special report]

Kazuya Nagae   

Music Culture Creation Department,   
Nagoya University of the Arts’ School of Music   
Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Hans Graf

This is a report on the session recording, with performance by Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (DSO) with a soloist, Tabea Zimmermann, viola, for production of SACDs, “Hindemith: Complete Viola Works Volume 1,” co-produced by Myrios Classics and Deutschlandradio Kultur (DLR). The recording took place at the Jesus Christ Church in Dahlem Berlin in August, 2012.

Myrios Classics is a label, established with a concept, “to provide excellent music in high quality format to the listeners,” by Mr. Stephan Cahen, who studied musicology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and sound engineering at Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf, in Mainz, a southwestern German town, in 2009. The label has released CDs with performances by such artists as Tabea Zimmermann, viola, and Hagen String Quartet. In the recording, Tonmeister (musik regie/music director) was Mr. Stephan Cahen, from Myrios Classics, and Toninggenieur (ton regie/balance engineer) was Mr. Thomas Monnerjahn from DLR.

2013 is the 50th year after Hindemith’s death. Born in Hanau, Germany, Hindemith is a composer who wrote over 600 works, and he is famous for writing not only symphonies and operas but also works for almost all kinds of instruments in a symphony orchestra. Since Hindemith himself was a violist, he wrote many works for viola and orchestra. Out of his works for viola and orchestra, following 4 works were recorded in the session:

 Trauermusik for Viola and String Orchestra (1936)
 Kammermusik No. 5, op. 36 no. 4/ Viola Concerto (1925)
 Konzertmusik for Viola and Large Chamber Orchestra Op. 48 (1930)
 Der Schwanendreher for Viola and Small Orchestra (1935)

DLR, a German public broadcaster, co-produces various recording products of the classical music, and it produces master recordings in collaboration with other labels. DLR’s way of co-production is to provide its recording technique, recording personnel, and facilities for the production and to release the product for sale through outer labels. Many of the recordings take place in Berliner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Siemensvilla, and the Jesus Christ Church in Dahlem Berlin, where the recording took place this time. Due to its poor profitability, it has become uncommon to perform an orchestra recording by sessions, and more master recordings are produced by compilation of takes from live recordings and rehearsal recordings. However, this recording was performed in a session style for 6 days, and thankfully, I was able to be present at this precious occasion.

The recording took place at the Jesus Christ Church in Dahlem Berlin, located in southwest part of the City of Berlin, for 6 days. The church has excellent chamber acoustics, and it is well known that Karajan and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra did several recordings in this church in 1960s. Early reflection sound is rather dark, and it felt like the length of reverberation was approximately 2 and a half seconds. It can be described, “sound gradually vibrates” as the reverberation attenuates. DLR owns a control room, regularly equipped with recording equipment, in this church. Because this recording was for making a master recording, co-produced by DLR, the control room was used for the recording.

 Jesus-Christus-Kirche Dahlem

Figure #1 shows the equipment system. Since the recorded materials were for SACD, released by Myrios Classics, microphones were set in an arrangement for surround audio recording. DLR’s recording equipment included YAMAHA DM2000 Console, Merging Technologies Pyramix DAW. YAMAHA AD824 HA/ADC for 24 channels was set up in the church, and audio signals were to be transmitted through MADI optical connection with MADI Audio Service in this system. Monitoring speakers for surround sound, Musikelectronic geithain RL 903 for L/C/R and Musikelectronic geithain RL 905 for LS/RS were also regularly equipped in the control room. In addition to the pre-existing system, Myrios Classics brought in two Digital Audio Denmark AX24s as HA/ADC, and they were connected to YAMAHA AD824 via AES/EBU. The master clock was provided from the primary Digital Audio Denmark AX24, and the recording was operated in 48kHz/24bit.

Equipments (Figure #1)


Console : YAMAHA DM2000
Merging Technologies Piramix
DAW : Merging Technologies Pyramix
Digital Audio Denmark AX24
HA/ADC : Digital Audio Denmark AX24
Sonodore Microphones
Mic PSU : Sonodore Microphones

Figure #2 shows the microphone arrangement for the recording this time. In the conventional setting for a concert, the placement of solo violist is left side of the main microphones. In order to avoid it, the placement of the solo violist was set slightly towards the center. Main microphones were Gross A-B (large A-B) with Schoeps MK2S, Klein A-B (little A-B) with DPA 4006, an omni-directional microphone functioning with 60V phantom powering, and a Decca Tree with Sonodore Microphone RCM-402. For LS-RS, Neumann KM130s were set towards corners of ceiling in the church. This type of main system with Decca Tree and large/small A-B expands the possibilities in mixing after the recording, and I saw main systems in this style several times in recordings I observed in Germany. Spot microphones include Sennheiser MKH 80 for viola solo, Neumann KM84 for strings, Schoeps MK21 wide cardioid and Schoeps MK22 open cardioid for woodwinds, Neumann U89 for brass, and DPA4011 for timpani.

Microphone arrangement: (Figure #2)

Arrangement of Microphones

Main Microphone System
Main Mic

Main Mic
Main Mic
Gross A-B, KleinAB
Main Mic
Surround LS

Spot Microphones 
Spot Mic
Spot Mic
Solo Viola : MKH80
Spot Mic
Woodwinds : Schoeps Mk21&22
Spot MicWoodwinds : Schoeps MK22
Spot Mic
Timpani : DPA 4011
Spot Mic
Contrabass : Neumann KM84Spot Mic
Harp : Schoeps MK4

Following is I did interviewing Mr. Stephan Cahen (myrios classics):

  1. I really didn't do anything special during editing/mix. After the edit has been approved by the soloist and the conductor, I created the stereo and 5.0 (no LFE) mix for SACD hybrid purpose.
  2. No artificial reverb has been added, only minor EQ pushing.
  3. A time alignment of the spot microphones delays were set, especially to compensate the Sonodore tree to the mains.
Staying in Berlin as a Nagoya University of Arts’ overseas research personnel for a year from April, 2012, I have engaged in recordings of classical music and worked on my studies on tonemeister education. Meanwhile, I was able to observe many recordings thanks to variety of people’s favor. Hindemith was a composer who actively composed his works in Berlin and a professor who taught at the current Berlin University of the Arts. However, he was compelled to leave Germany because of the Nazis before the Second World War. It is quite emotive to see his works being performed by the orchestra in Berlin and recorded in Berlin.
I would like to acknowledge Mr. Stephan Cahen, Myrios Classics and Mr. Thomas Monnerjahn, DLR who both gave me their ready consent to contribute this article to Surround Terakoya Lab.

Tabea Zimmermann (viola)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Hans Graf
3rd June 2013, Number of Discs: 1
Format: Hybrid Multi-channel SACD
Amazon de Amazon uk  Amazon jp

Der Schwanendreher concerto after old folk songs for viola & small orchestra
Trauermusik for string orchestra with solo viola
Kammermusik No. 5 Op. 36 No. 4 Bratschenkonzert for solo viola & large chamber orchestra
Konzertmusik Op. 48a for solo viola & large chamber orchestra (early edition)world premiere

Recording Credits
Location : Jesus-Christus-Kirche Berlin-Dahlem August.2012
Executive Producer : Rainer Pöllmann (Deutschlandradio Kultur) & Stephan Cahen (myrios classics)
Recording Producer,Balance engineer & Digital Editing : Stephan Cahen
Recording Engineer : Thomas Monnerjahn (Deutschlandradio Kultur)
Assistant Engineer : Maksim Gamov

(P)2012 (C) 2013 A co-production of myrios classics & roc Berlin & Deutschlandradio Kultur

Translated by  Hitoshi Sugie

November 8, 2013

Surround Recording of Church Music ~ Heinrich Schütz Works [Special report]

Kazuya Nagae   

Music Culture Creation Department,   
Nagoya University of the Arts’ School of Music   

This is a report on the session recording of works of Heinrich Schütz, one of representative composers in the 16th century German early baroque music, for SACDs with surround layers. The performance is by Dresdner Kammerchor. The recording took place in Radeberg, a suburb of Dresden, Germany, from October 14 to 18, 2012. The recorded product was released as SACD hybrid discs with CD-DA layers by Carus Verlag on 3 Oct, 2013.

Established by Günter Graulich, a choral conductor, in 1972, Carus Verlag is a music publisher, which mainly focuses on church music, in Stuttgart. It has released such CDs with core church music as a complete works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of famous J. S. Bach. The recording was directed by Mr. Florian B. Schmidt and Mr. Aki Matusch, active Tonmeisters in Berlin.

Heinrich Schütz was born in Thüringen, located in the central part of Germany, in 1585, exactly 100 years before J. S. Bach was born. He was an active composer, attached to a court orchestra in Dresden, and is described as “the father of German music.” The 400th anniversary of Schütz’s taking up an appointment as an exclusive composer for the court orchestra, Dresdner Kammerchor has been working on recording all Schütz’s works in 22 albums, and the recording this time was for the 10th album with Psalmen Davids SWV 22-47. Due to its poor profitability, it has become uncommon to perform an orchestra recording by sessions. However, there were 4 concerts scheduled in and around Dresden before and after the 4 days of recording. The matter of profitability was well considered and taken care of by scheduling concerts and recording session in the same period of time.

The recording took place at Stadtkirche zu Radeberg, a church on a low hill in Radeberg, the town famous for brewing Radeberger pilsner beer, located about 15 kilo meters north of Dresden. The church was built more than 400 years ago, and it is said that the church has had strong ties with music. Including the recording with Dresdner Kammerchor this time, many recordings has been performed in this church. Early reflection sound is rather dark, and it felt like the length of reverberation was approximately 2 and a half seconds.

Stadtkirche zu Radeberg

Figure #1 shows the equipment system. The system was mainly equipped with Merging Technologies Pyramix DAW, RME Micstasy Audio I/F, and RME Micstasy Head Amp, and there was no console in the system. Equipment was set in a priest’s office, and the office was used as a control room. Master clock was provided from the primary RME Micstasy, and the recording was operated in 44.1kHz/24bit/22 channels Multitrack Recording.(no sum was recorded.) Although the recording system had inputs for 22 channels since it was a surround session, they carried all the equipment on one Audi passenger car with only 2 people. It was really impressive for me.

EQUIPMENTS (Figure #1)

Grace Design m802RME Misctasy, Fireface UFX
Merging Technologies PiramixMerging Technologies Pyramix

Figure #2 shows the microphone arrangement for the recording this time. Music from Schütz’s period often require a style of performance called “Antiphon,” in which performers are divided into more than 2 groups and play or sing at different places. This time, Favorit-Chor I and II with vocal soloists and basso continuo were placed at right and left sides in the front part of the church, and Capell-Chor I and II with choirs were placed at right and left sides in the rear part of the church. In order to make the effects of distances between the groups perceivable, the recording session was executed in the style of surround recording. Decca Tree with B&K 4006 was set as the main microphone, and B&K 4006 with a nose cone, which makes audio-frequency completely omni-directional, was set as LS-RS. Spot microphones include cardioids such as B&K 4011 for basso continuo at the front and Schoeps MK4 for instruments in the rear; as well as Schoeps MK22 open cardioids for vocal soloists and Schoeps MK21 wide cardioids for choirs. Placements of the spot microphones were well arranged, considering overlaps among the microphones, to pick up ideal sound from each spot microphone. What was impressive for me was that the engineers were taking delay on the Pyramix mixer by making sound pulses with something like a paper clip in front of each microphone and measuring time difference between waves of the main microphone and spot microphones in order to make it possible to adjust time alignment between the main microphone and spot microphones during intermissions.

Microphone arrangement: (Figure #2)
Dresdner Kammerchor

Dresdner Kammerchor

Main Microphone System
Main Mic

Decca Tree
Nose Cone

Spot Microphone SystemSpot Mic
Spot Mic

Staying in Berlin as a Nagoya University of Arts’ overseas research personnel for a year from April, 2012, I have engaged in recordings of classical music and worked on my studies on Tonmeister education. Meanwhile, I was able to observe many recordings thanks to variety of people’s favor. Schütz is a composer who actively composed his works in Dresden, and I felt it is quite in the nature of things that his works is performed by an ensemble in Dresden and recorded in the suburb of Dresden. Although the microphones for LS and RS, which are set in the rear in surround, were placed right by the altar of the church in this recording, voice of the vocal soloists, placed at right-front and left-front, was reflected by a round wall behind the altar and picked by those microphones quite well. From this, I could feel the stereoness effect that would not occur in a conventional concert hall but is peculiar in the church. This project is to record complete works of Schütz within 10 years. It is not easy thing to do, but I could feel that this project is supported by the good communication among the ensemble, label, and recording producing staffs. I would like to acknowledge Mr. Florian Schmidt and Mr. Aki Matusch who both gave me their ready consent to contribute this article to Surround Terakoya Lab.

SACD Infomation

Format:Hybrid SACD, ASIN: B00G2XM5PM


Heinrich Schütz : Psalmen Davids

Orch : Dresdner Barockorchester
Dirigent : Hans-Christoph Rademann

Singing Soloists:
Soprano : Birgit Jacobi , Isabel Jantschek, Dorothee Mields, Marie Luise Werneburg
Alto : David Erler, Stefan Kunath
Tenor : Tobias Mäthger, Georg Poplutz
Bass: Stephan MacLeod, Felix Schwandtke

Recording Team: Florian B. Schmidt, Aki Matusch

(C) 2013 Carus-Verlag GmbH & Co KG

Translated by  Hitoshi Sugie


June 9, 2013

Latest Trends of Digital Cinema Sound - What I See in the Steps of Digital Cinema Sound [ Special Report ]

By Masaaki Fushiki

I. Méliès
A few Georges Méliès films were shown last December in a small event facility, Le Studio Hermès in Ginza where they had a proper projection room equipped with a couple of 35mm film projectors. The pictures were actually shown via Betacam on the day, but its quality was quite agreeable and I enjoyed the abundant appeal of 100-year old special effects by the pioneer. Méliès himself was one of key characters in the recent well-crafted 3D movie “Hugo” as many of you already understand. This movie was truly a respectable masterpiece for me having myself been associated with filmmaking even only slightly. These two movies related to Méliès illustrate how the motion pictures evolved incessantly by absorbing then-the-latest technologies.
II. Digital Cinema
85% of total 42,000 cinemas in USA is now digital thanks to VPF (Virtual Print Fee) arrangement. Major studios used to prepare 6000 film copies of premium summer hit titles for distribution, but only 500 would suffice nowadays.  Looking at the worldwide penetration, the digital cinema ratio is as high as 69% as of end 2012, therefore “digital” is already a firm foundation along with the 3D feature, and the industry seems to continue their effort introducing more technological advancements such as 4k picture (including laser projectors to follow) and HFR. This is inevitable because the industry is always concerned about their differentiation against home entertainment. The departure from 24fps tradition in the digital domain may not be a tough challenge considering the films are rarely used in the productions today and the frame-rate accommodation would be relatively easy in video projectors. The forthcoming “Avatar 2” promises 60fps/4k release to attract some excitement.
Those advancements are on the other hand a kind of specification upgrade rather than a radical paradigm shift beyond digital cinema. Does the industry steer their focuses in this direction? Well, it would become obvious for us to realize that the digital cinema movement was realistically driven by the economy and efficiency aspects inherent with the digital media, more so than the picture-quality issues. DCP (Digital Cinema Package) allowed the film industry to reduce a great amount of time, cost of films and transportation in generating distribution prints. It also eliminated the process of telecine that was necessary for the content transfer into video packages and broadcasts. A substantial improvement in the production efficiency.
The trend in cinemas has shifted from large auditoria to cinema complexes in the recent years, which enabled them to program all the shows they schedule simply by presetting on the control panel instead of masculine loading and unloading of films each time. Each screen tends to be small enough for using 2k projectors with perceivably sufficient picture quality even though its specifications are not much different from those of digital home video, which also helped the progress.
The high hurdle for alternative contents has been eliminated by the digital format’s nature: About 4 years ago, l’Opera Comique produced the stage of Bizet’s “Carmen” conducted by John Eliot Gardiner with the original libretto, and its last performance was shown in 45 digital cinemas throughout France, and I thought it an excellent example of alternative contents. The same kind of arrangements is shown in Japan now, and theater owners call it “live viewing” enabling them to charge more admissions than those of regular movies. We can understand that the industry has just arrived at a reasonably mature format of digital just as consumers once decided the direction between film cameras and digital cameras, and thus the industry is now in the stage for enhancing the format with some step-up technologies.
III. Sound
Cinema sound kept evolving roughly every 10 years starting with Dolby Stereo in mid 70’s, followed by Dolby SR in 80’s. The introduction of digital was late in the movie industry to wait until 90’s, and at that time some sort of compression coding was employed each with Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS. DCI then set forth the standard of discrete PCM sound in 5.1/7.1 formats. The intermediate step of Dolby SR before Digital Cinema that continued more than a decade was the valuable time to complete the soil exchange of the entire movie industry during which time the productions gradually invested in the digital environment while cinemas only executed partial changes in their system.
When I posed a philosophical question like “what is the movie in essence”, the engineers in Dolby almost immediately answered, “it is a story-telling” as their common understanding. It starts from a script in the director’s hand, and every single staff or technology is expected to support the story in the script. The story-telling aspect of sound mixing had been traditionally rather rigid with center-fixed dialogs, the modest balance of sound effects or music against dialogs. The surround effects were required strictly ambient in order not to attract the audience attention toward elsewhere off-screen, which was a reliable practice to generate a sense of being there under the limitation of matrix 4-channel surround format without damaging the story’s quality.
This model of self-maintenance has loosened itself a bit in the digital cinema paradigm though, as the trend set more freedom to dialogs’ stereo localization, as typically found in Pixar animation movies, and more dynamic and precise surround sound along with discrete 5.1 channel penetration. Particularly in Dolby Surround EX and later formats, they intended to allow out-of-screen localizations in contrast to the ambience, and this direction is ultimately pushed further by the latest introduction of Dolby Atmos.

IV. Dolby Atmos
Introduced at the CinemaCon 2012 in Las Vegas last April, Dolby Atmos technology is probably the largest revolution in the history of movie sound. In Dolby Atmos system framework, it saves dialogs, sound effects and music in DCP as 128 audio objects that are rendered into as many as 64-channel outputs to suit the theatrical playback system. Hugely different number of channels compared to 5.1 or 7.1 is aimed to achieve the reality of sound sensation unattainable before in order to further enhance the immersiveness into the story. The workflow of this complex structure can be efficiently simplified in the production process thanks to the concept of audio objects.

Dolby Atmos System Flow

    Let’s look into the playback section to begin with. Dolby Atmos provides 2 new features to improve the sensation of sound: One is to add the height with a group of ceiling top speaks, and the other is the surround imaging that changed from wall surfaces by speaker arrays to point source of each individual speaker.
Such nature sound around us as airplane fly-over, bird’s chirping, or thunder has certain directionality, and there has been limitations in their reproduction in the film sound. In the days of Lt/Rt matrix, we basically had on-screen or unlocalized out-of-screen sound (“interior” we used to call it for the latter) and the panning between their contrasts was the expression of an object’s crude move. Even later in the time of discrete 5.1, the difference in the timbre and localization between highly linear screen speakers and surround arrays was so profound that the solid sound imaging or panning to reveal its tonality was not practically desirable except for something rather instantaneous. Traditionally, the theatrical system used to define the surround space in 3 elements of left side, right side and back walls, but Dolby Atmos regards the listening space as a cube or a hemisphere and buries as many speakers as possible in it, each functioning as an individual audio channel whereby the directionality and the uniformity of timbre can be dramatically improved. The recommended ceiling speakers do not form a single common channel in array either. They consist 2 lines front to back, lefty and righty, again each functioning individually, driven by unique, separate amplifier for each.
With the above change, much more colorful effects in the movie sound mixing are attainable. For example in a jungle, a variety of animals and insects may be heard from all sorts of directions in clear, crispy tones by giving full freedom to engineers’ creativity. The quality of panning will be also improved. It should be noted that the traditional ambient effects are still available in the new format by rendering them to multiple speaker outputs just as they used to.
Dolby Atmos Speaker Layout

One more related change in the theater system is the addition of surround speakers closer to the screen in sidewalls. They help localizing the sound in the very far end out of the screen and also smoothing the object’s panning around.
The surround speakers are required to stand up as an individual in their technical specifications. The frequency response and the power handling are particularly important when cinemas consider renovating their system for Dolby Atmos introduction. Still, the ceiling and surround speakers remain physically smaller than front speakers, and Dolby Atmos wisely redistributes low frequency elements to the rear sub-woofer(s) and tries to manage the power balance between the front speakers and the surround speakers by means of plural speaker rendering for the latter.

Next is the impact in the post-production environment. The most significant change brought in with Dolby Atmos to the studio engineers is the way to handle sound elements as objects. Dolby Atmos generates the information of where and when in the system hemisphere each object is placed as a metadata that is saved in a package with the object. This workflow is almost homogeneous with that of ProTools on workstations, and therefore it is like saving the production procedures themselves into the final mix with Dolby Atmos.
The movie production is not an exception where ProTools has become the mainstream in use, and the environment offered by Dolby Atmos with the freedom of specific number of output channels functionally unifies the entire process of post-production, therefore it is not the complication brought in nor the same high hurdle is mandated to the system in cinemas identically to dubbing theaters. When the sound engineer mixes a movie with Dolby Atmos in the dubbing theater equipped in its maximum playback specifications, a precise 5.1 mix (or 7.1) is automatically generated and saved into DCP in parallel with the Atmos mix, eliminating the need for repeated, separate works. This single common DCP package is distributable to variety of digital cinemas with different playback specifications. The scalability feature of Dolby Atmos here plays an important role: Even if a cinema cannot afford a few tens of speaker channels, Dolby Atmos will intelligently take the particular playback environment into account to render its output in a way to maximize and fit the sound mix. This type of care about backward compatibility has been a Dolby tradition.
“It was like having a new instrument” quoted a sound engineer regarding Dolby Atmos. Or it can be said it is like a pallet for drawing new paintings. There are some useful information in the net about how the studios faced with this new system and brought it into their production procedures as shown below, for example:

A competing format with Dolby Atmos is IOSONO 3D that was developed by Fraunhofer, a giant organization known as codec specialist, and this system may be more futuristic in its concept. Audio objects and rendering through multiple speakers to cover the spherical space are the common factors with Dolby Atmos, but its approach to realize the sound localization is based on a totally new theory: Wave Field Synthesis that captures the sound source through an array of multiple microphones and reproduces it with the same kind of speaker array around the space. IOSONO’s unique features are the wide sweet spot and the ability of localizing the sound at any point within the sphere, for example as close as next to you. With such significant advantages, they claim it the true 3D soundscape format. The drawing shown below illustrates an example of cinema installation with IOSONO system. According to IOSONO, a typical 1:2 box auditorium would need 9 speakers in front behind the screen and also 9 in the back to yield total 54 speakers to form a single-layer horizontal ring. In addition, recent installations have 15 to 18 ceiling speaker channels by using triangulated array for the ceiling zone. For the timbre matching and sufficient power handling of the speakers in the designs, they cooperate with such speaker manufacturers as D&B, Fohhn, JBL, Meyer and QSC. For example in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, QSC KW-151 for the screen and K-12 for surround are installed.

IOSONO Speaker Layout
     Auro-3D is another new-comer, promoted by Barco, that extends the traditional 5.1 into a 2-layer format: 4-channels excluding Center and LFE are stacked up on the 5.1 foundation to structure total 9.1 channels, or 10.1 with the ceiling channel addition. 6.1/7.1 can be extended to 12.1/13.1 in the same manner. While the traditional surround formats contain only one horizontal line of speaker array, Auro-3D adds the vertical dimension to realize a 3D soundfield. The installations and productions are happening since last year, and its back-compatibility to the traditional layout is quite straightforward.

VI. Gimmick and Essence
Along with the recognition that the movie is essentially a story-telling, my own contemplation about the movie is that it is an effort of work to construct a space to experience the story. This may be only a matter of expressing the same differently, but while the former is a structural framework to work on the logic and the sentiment, the latter is a physiological communication with the audience in my opinion. It may be something like a phase difference between the intellect and the instinct. It is literally the sense of existing in the screen rather than being seated in a cinema, or from the viewpoint of movie producers the effort to drive the audience to such an illusion. When the movie was first shown, the viewers were horrified with a steam locomotive dashing to them and they tried to get out, and this is exactly the evidence of a physiological space. Technologies like large screens, surround sound and 3D imaging all aimed this. The latest motion simulator falls in the same gender.
What is the decision factor for these technologies to end its life as a gimmick or to remain steadily as an essential part of moviemaking? As the intellect and the instinct exist, there are 2 different approaches in the realism of imaging art. One is to capture the scene with a fixed camera sustainably for a long period of time just like a fixed-point observation. The other is very cinematic “montage” technique that edits different cuts to structure a story and drives it forward. As for the sound, there are no formulas in terms of how it needs to go along these approaches. Sound effects and music often continue independently of the transition of scenes. Surround sound is not a form of technology to recreate the acoustic dimensions of each scene precisely from the opening to the finale. It goes along with the scenes to a certain extent, but carries its own montage ups- and-downs to enhance the stage, and it exactly looks like an established style of “sound designing”.
3D has much longer history than surround, but repeated its gimmicky cycles in the past for a few times. Personally, I think 3D is exactly the identical technology in imaging to surround, and thus can perform at least equally to 5.1 especially in digital. On the other hand, I feel the immersive sensation is often greater in huge 2D screen that entirely occupies the viewing angle. I also feel a lack of style in 3D except simply dimensional from beginning to end. These two factors might be its challenge to tackle. In that sense, it is an interesting subject how 3D would digest the live viewing that I previously noted.
One answer that I arrived at in this process of thinking is that excellent contents feed technologies. It is my feeling of reality that potentially a gimmick technology can trace the road to become an essence if it continues to enjoy the benefit of being used in excellent contents.

Above include purely personal observations about the movies and the technologies in the days of digital, and I hope this serves even slightly the readers for their better understanding of the subject. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Doug Greenfield of Dolby Burbank, a long time colleague of mine, and also Mr. Jeff Levison of IOSONO. Both of them helped me clarifying a few factual aspects of latest information.

About the Author:
Masaaki Fushiki was born in 1948 and graduated from University of Tokyo majoring French language and literature. After 5 years of experience in the sales promotion and product planning in the Overseas Department of TEAC Corporation, he joined Dolby in 1979 as a liaison licensing staff and initiated promoting the concept of surround sound for home entertainment in 80’s. He also devoted himself in standardizing the digital audio format of DVD-video in 90’s. In 1997, he establish the branch office of Dolby’s international service company in Japan, and formed it into Dolby Japan K.K. as a legal local entity in 2007. He was the first representative director of the company until he resigned in 2009.