CineEurope: 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' To Get Auro Mix; Barco Urges Sound Standards

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Poster Crop Lawrence - H 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Poster Crop Lawrence - H 2013

BARCELONA -- Barco’s Auro 11.1 immersive sound system will be used for Lionsgate’s upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Ender’s Game.

Since its introduction in early 2012, Auro has been used on eight films and will have been used on 17 additional titles by the end of the year, Barco said during a presentation Tuesday at CineEurope. The company also expects more than 50 planned titles by that point.

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During the presentation, Brian Claypool, Barco’s senior director of strategic business development, urged the industry to unify on a single open standard for immersive sound, saying “I don’t think the studios want [a format war].”

“All the studios feel the same -- open standards is the way to go. We don't want multiple versions,” Jim Beshears, head of postproduction at DreamWorks Animation, told The Hollywood Reporter following the presentation.

DWA is releasing its upcoming Turbo -- which was previewed this week at CineEurope -- in both Auro and Atmos, and the studio needed to make two separate mixes. (The film was mixed by two-time Oscar-winning rerecording mixer Andy Nelson and Emmy-nominated rerecording mixer Michael Babcock, working with three-time Oscar-winning sound designer Richard King.)

NATO and UNIC have both called for standards, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers are also looking into the issue.

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Barco and DTS are urging the use of DTS’ open standard MDA (Multi-Dimensional Audio). Claypool told THR that the MDA technology seems to be a “foundation” that stakeholders are looking toward for a potential standard.

However, Dolby -- whose Atmos is a competing immersive sound system -- disagrees.

Speaking with THR Tuesday at CineEurope, Dolby’s senior worldwide technical marketing manager Stuart Bowling said, “We are not against an open standard, but our position is Atoms was a collaborative effort with filmmakers. … Open standards may seem like a good idea on the surface but may be counter-productive as it can stifle innovation.

“The filmmakers may not like having technology that could change [their creative intent],” he added.

Beshears believes these new sound systems could usher in new creative possibilities.

“We’re on the cusp of a new way to design soundtracks,” he told THR, pointing to robust audio postproduction systems such as ProTools combined with immersive sound.

Auro is currently installed in 67 auditoriums worldwide (including 15 in North America) in addition to 15 audio postproduction theaters. Claypool said the company has commitments from exhibitors that would put Auro in a total of 200 screens worldwide by the end of the year.