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Recording for Dolby Atmos (for Documentaries)


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Hi everyone,

I‘m considering to finish my next documentary in Dolby Atmos for theatrical screenings. But this is my first time and I have not yet any experience recording on location sound beyond double M/S.


To go more in to detail what I‘m planning: at this project I‘m the director and the sound recordist at the same time. My cinematographer and I will be shooting on an tropical island at the beach and the ocean - above and under water - as well as in the tropical forest. The under water part is very small, so my focus lys on the beach and the tropical forest.
We will follow our protagonists through their island while their hunt, plant and sometimes swim and snorkel. As far as I can say now the Schoeps ORFT-3D setup would be the best solution in addition for an boom with a shotgun and lav‘s for every protagonist. But there will be situations where there will no time for setting up the ORTF-3D - beside the fact that I‘m currently not sure if we will be able to afford the rent of it.
So I was thinking why not expanding a double M/S setup with another cardioid pointing to the to top to get a triple M/S. Maybe adding the CCM4V inside the Schoeps CMIT double M/S set. This third stereo signal could be used to feed the ceiling speakers in Dolby Atmos theaters/cinema - but I‘m not a sounddesigner and would like to hear your opinions.


Has somebody experiences in recording for or finishing in Dolby Atmos and would like to share it?

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For BBC4 film about an Inuit hunter in Greenland 'The Last Igloo' delivered in Dolby Atmos, I decided given the logistics, that I would record the bulk of it in single MS (CCM4 and CCM8) Cinela (Zephyx CCM-MS) and took an ambisonics mic (Rode NTSF1) to rig when the scene would clearly benefit from it, there was time to rig it and not be in shot, or to get separate ambisonic atmos. And of course radio mics (Zaxcom, using the internal recording all the time, though the range was fantastic as there was no contention and I was using animal tracking yagis), for personal mics and for plant mics for spot FX, sledges, dogs (DPA 4098 / 9) etc.
I also had an Aquarian H2a Hydrophone, for under the ice FX etc.
That was plenty of equipment to have to transport and have available on skidoos, and dog sleds etc., and to be fast enough in cold remote places, and not to over complicate matters....:)
Anyway The Farm post production in London were very happy with what I delivered, and were very creative with how they used it, and created surround effects as and when the film would benefit from it in post. I'm a big fan of MS recording, it brings the sound to life and the stereo width can be manipulated to great effect in post, but remaining small and light. If you get good post production with the time to do it, the surround can be crafted after the event, to match the cut of the film, though they appreciated the ambisonics too, when the scene clearly had natural surround potential. So with the composers beautiful music, (Biggi Hilmars), which I loved, it all worked out rather well, even though I say it myself....:)  I saw a preview in a showcase Dolby Atmos cinema in central London.
Good luck with your film, it sounds interesting, chat to your sound post production before you go maybe?
These links may not work from outside the UK, not sure, sorry.





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To the OP: it sounds like you are planning a very small crew shoot.  I'd advise thinking carefully about what you will really have the time, space, energy and opportunity to deploy on location.  A simple stereo recording in hand is far better than a 5+channel recording that didn't get made because you ran out of time.

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Multi channel programs are usually compiled in post. Dialog recording and such would still the same. Some multi channel atmos could be recorded though. Most OMB video folk can't even mix a mono or simple stereo sound track to pro specs. Multi channel opens up all kinds of disastrous scenarios.. especially if destined for film festivals.

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James Longley's most recent doc, Angels Are Made of Light, was mixed to ATMOS. IIRC, most of the film was captured by just James and his mixer, Jamshid Amiry. He talks a little bit about that here. If you track him down, perhaps he'll tell you more about how they approached production and post audio.






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