The Future of Film at Dublin’s New Odeon Cinema.

Like every other area of the arts and entertainment world, film and television’s initial reaction to the onslaught of the internet and all things digital was to assume the traditional rabbit-in-the-headlights position. They froze.

But after a while, they all began to realize that digital could be used to everyone’s advantage. The way you did that was, on the one hand, by warmly linking up with it. And on the other, by quietly emphasizing what’s unique about what it is that you do compared to what can be done in the digital universe.

The first response proper that film and television produced was 3D.

3D was going to solve everything. But we already watch film and television in 3D. All the new technology does is to further extend that illusion from the screen to your eyes.

When a man threw a knife at you before, it stopped at the surface of the screen. Now it comes all the way to the tip of your nose. Which is undeniably impressive for the first three or four minutes or so, but you quickly get used to it. It’s great for ads or trailers, but it soon becomes invisible. And, as ever, you’re left with whether not the film or whatever it is that you’re watching is any good.

What cinema needs to do if it is to distinguish itself from A N other video viewing is to make watching it there a unique experience. And the way you do that is through vision and sound.

The Odeon group has already taken over the UCI cinemas in Dublin and the Storm ones throughout the rest of the country, and now they’ve opened a brand new cinema at the Point Village in the centre of town. There are five new screens in all but pride of place goes to the isense screen they’ve opened there to go with one they already have in Blanchardstown.

Isense operates using imm sound, as in immersive, and broadly speaking the way that works is as follows. Conventional 5.1 surround sound has three speakers up front (centre, left and right), and two on either side behind (the .1 is for the Subwoofer). All of the core story sound comes out from the front, moving left and right. The back two speakers are only used for secondary sound like extras in a bar, or the sound of a car arriving.

When you go to 7.1 (or 9, or 11.1), all you are doing is adding two more of the back speakers for that secondary sound, to compliment the three principle ones you have up front. In other words, you’re only ever using just the two basic channels. Principle, core story sounds come out of the three up front, and (all) the other speakers are kept for background sounds.

What imm sound does is to take whatever film it is that they are showing and effectively remix it using their 24 channels. So that, as near as possible, what you see is matched by what you hear.

When for instance we see our terrified heroine looking up in fear at the ceiling, we can hear the progress of the footsteps in the attic above her as they move, almost one by one, from front to back and from left to right.

What’s more, all of this can be heard through the 50 or 60 speakers that Odeon drown the walls of their isense cinemas in to go with the gloriously large screens they reserve for the films they show there (and thanks by the way to the Point’s Digital Operations Manager Tony Colton who explained all of this to me so patiently.). For more details on where you can find imm sound cinemas throughout the rest of Europe and how they work go here

At 11.50 the tickets are ever so slightly above average. And it’s still not going to succeed in giving a turkey wings. But make no mistake, this is the future for film, and you can see it here in the centre of Dublin. Enjoy.

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