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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