Article Overview

Soundfield Provides Princely 5.1 For Dolby at Disney Premiere

UPM-1 Generates 5.1 Surround For Simulcast Interviews At Prince Of Persia Premiere

SoundField's UPM-1 stereo-to-5.1 processor provided invaluable live upmixing assistance to a team of Dolby sound consultants at the recent world premiere of Disney's summer blockbuster Prince Of Persia, held in London.

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Dolby have been responsible for broadcast support at a number of special events for Disney of late, and the Prince Of Persia premieres provided a typically complex example. Two rounds of interviews were conducted in London with the film’s principal cast, which includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, and Sir Ben Kingsley, and the results simultaneously broadcast to premieres around the world. The first set of interviews were conducted and transmitted in the morning from the Dorchester Hotel in London in time for evening premieres in Japan and Australia. The second set was simulcast in the afternoon from the Westfield Centre in West London, in time for premieres in the UK and Italy, and was also recorded and retransmitted at midnight in time for a late afternoon premiere taking place in Mexico City.

This is not the first multi-timezone premiere where Dolby have assisted Disney, and everything went off flawlessly. However, with the film's soundtrack in cinematic surround sound, Disney wanted to ensure that the sound for the introductory interviews was also multi-channel. Unfortunately, the premiere took place in the immediate aftermath of the UK's inconclusive general election, and no outside broadcast vehicles capable of broadcasting in 5.1 surround were available. Outside Broadcast experts Arqiva were able to spare a satellite uplink truck, and Sassy Films provided stereo OB facilities at both the Dorchester and the Westfield centre, but nothing capable of 5.1 broadcast was available. SoundField, however, had the answer…

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"We had been considering the possibility of using a SoundField DSF-2 digital microphone to do the interviews anyway," explains Dolby Sound Consultant Richard Stockdale, who was responsible for the audio broadcast from the London-based events. "With SoundField's DSF-3 surround processor, that would have given us a nice result in digital, discrete-channel 5.1. But then we found out we couldn't mix live in 5.1 at the event. By coincidence, though, SoundField had been down to see us a couple of weeks beforehand and had left us a UPM-1 to experiment with…”

The UPM-1, SoundField’s stereo-to-5.1 upmix processor, was designed for just this kind of problem: to convert a stereo broadcast mix to fold-down-compatible 5.1 with the minimum of artefacts. Mono content, like the dialogue in the interviews conducted for the premieres, is separated from an original stereo mix and may be spread across the front three channels of a surround mix, or restricted to the 5.1 mix’s Centre channel. More reverberant audio, like the crowd noise from the people watching the filmstars at the Westfield, is placed into the rear channels, making for a natural-sounding surround mix.

"SoundField very kindly sent us three more UPM-1s for this premiere, in addition to the unit we already had on loan from them at our HQ,” comments Stockdale. “We used four in total because we needed a main and a backup unit at both of the broadcast locations, at the Dorchester and at the Westfield. The UPM-1 was very simple to use — we just plumbed in the UPM-1s in the Arqiva uplink between the feed from the stereo OB scanner and our DP569 Dolby Digital encoders, before sending the whole thing out to the satellites from the uplink. We had an engineer picking up the satellite feed and monitoring it in 5.1 at our HQ in Wootton Bassett in the West of England just in case, but in the event, there weren't any problems.

"In short, the UPM-1 worked well," concludes Stockdale. "It solved our problem, and gave us the 5.1 mix we needed for the premieres. Job done!"

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About The UPM-1

SoundField's UPM-1 is an easy-to-use hardware Stereo-to-5.1 upmix processor, designed with particular emphasis on use in live broadcast environments. A convincing 5.1 soundscape may be created from almost any stereo output material, yet the surround-sound results preserve the stereo imaging of the original, and remain completely downmix-compatible at all times.

About SoundField

UK manufacturer SoundField specialises in digital and analogue surround and stereo microphone systems for the broadcast and recording industries. Based on a unique multi-capsule design, SoundField's systems allow users to capture and output audio in mono, phase-coherent stereo,5.1 or any future surround format, using a single microphone and processor. Over recent years, the company's digital microphone systems have become the standard means of originating 5.1 audio for high-definition television transmission amongst many of the world’s leading broadcasters.

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