IBC: Colleagues Remember Visionary Engineer Ray Dolby

AMSTERDAM – As the exhibition portion of the International Broadcasting Convention opened on Friday, a somber mood could be felt at the booth of Dolby Laboratories following the passing of the company's iconic founder, engineer and inventor Ray Dolby, at 80.

Flowers were placed at the welcome booth with a photo of Dolby and a handwritten note that simply said "Ray Dolby — 1933-2013. With all our love."

"We have had people constantly stopping by to share stories about Ray and talk about the impact that Ray has had on the industry," said Bill Admans, Dolby's director of production and postproduction solutions.

Q&A: Ray Dolby

Admans and company senior vp and CTO Craig Todd -- who worked with Dolby for more than 25 years -- recalled how their visionary leader was "one of the crowd. He didn't like to be put on a pedestal." They related that Dolby would turn his badge around at conventions so that people didn't see his name -- he preferred to just chat with customers about technology.

IBC had bestowed its highest honor, the International Honor for Excellence, to Ray Dolby back in the '90s.

Peter Owen, chair of the IBC Council, recalled that Dolby has inspired countless people from the IBC community. "Everybody knows Dolby, the company -- and the Ray Dolby behind it," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Ray Dolby had also received Honorary Membership in the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which is the society's highest honor. "Mr. Dolby will, of course, be remembered principally for his paradigm-shifting inventions in the world of audio; in both professional and consumer fields, today's audio experience is based largely on his work in the 1960s and beyond. But it is important not to forget his enormous contributions to video, particularly video recording. Few people have had so great an impact over such a wide range of technology." said Barbara Lange, executive director of SMPTE, which is a partner in IBC.

Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965, and his pioneering work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the development of many technologies, for which he holds more than 50 U.S. patents. Dolby has received countless honors including an Oscar, several Emmys, a Grammy, the Berlinale Camera Award, as well as the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton and the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Last year, the auditorium at Hollywood & Highland was renamed the Dolby Theatre and the ballroom became the Ray Dolby Ballroom.

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E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA