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Dolby Atmos sound tech puts you in Smaug's lairDolby Atmos is used in the Oscar-nominated films "Gravity" and "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug." CNET's Kara Tsuboi goes behind the scenes at Dolby Labs with Academy Award-winning sound mixer Christopher Boyes.
-Smaug the dragon is a menacing beast, especially when moviegoers experiences scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in a theater with a Dolby Atmos sound system. -We would have Smaug's voice and his growls do this interesting thing where they would emanate from his-- from his mouth. But then, they would flow through the room and then bounce off the back wall. -The Atmos system is the first to put individually controllable speakers in the ceiling in addition to the standard front, back, and side walls of a theater, essentially encasing the audience in a bubble of sound. -That way, we can actually make sound more naturalistic, more life-like. So, when something moves through the room, it basically goes from speaker to speaker to speaker to speaker instead of the way it does normally. It hits every speaker then fades. -Surround sound is a loud powerful tool, but not very precise. With Dolby Atmos, every sound can be isolated. So, the audience can track, say, the individual flutter of a leaf around the room, or the buzz of the helicopter across the sky. The Atmos technology gives sound mixers, like Academy Award nominated Christopher Boyes, precision control over sound effects, placing individual sounds around the room. -If I took a specific wind and put it up in the ceiling, and then took different winds and move them in different places of the room, then I got this very expansive feeling. And you felt like you were up on top of a mountain, looking at this huge vista around you. -In the movie Gravity, sound mixers used Atmos to manipulate position of voices like Ed Harris' Mission Control to talk to astronauts played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. -Explorer, this is Houston. -Go ahead, Houston. -Mission abort. -His sound is actually being positioned into the ceiling. So, you're kind of hearing it as if you're-- as like as George and Sandra Bullock are in that space. -Which gives the overall feeling to the audience that they're along for the ride. -Really helps focus you in the moment as to what's going on and really pushes you into the screen of the story. -Normally, when you go to the movies, you wanna sit in the very center to get the best sound experience, the suite spot. But now, with Dolby Atmos, you get that same great sound experience whether you sit here, or here, or even here. -Right now, only 450 theaters are equipped with the Dolby Atmos system. Expansion plans are in the works so more moviegoers can experience that film and sound world alongside their favorite characters. -Do not think I won't kill it, Wolf. -In San Francisco, I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET.com for CBS News.