Nothing but first-class seats at the movies

July 5, 2006
Nothing but first-class seats at the movies
A novelty at the Bavaria Film Studios: The mine keeper’s ghost, complete with voice, appears in the middle of the movie theater. © Bavaria Filmstadt

Invisible, but audible, is the latest attraction at the Bavaria Film Studios near Munich. The "4D cinema experience" is the second movie theater in Germany to have departed from conventional multi-channel sound. The IOSONO system creates perfect surround sound at every seat.

Visitors to the 4D cinema in the grounds of the Bavaria Film Studios can plunge into a completely new kind of movie experience. Not only are the images real enough to touch – as is usual in 3D movie theaters – but the sound, too, gives viewers the feeling of being in the thick of events.

Against the backdrop of an abandoned mine, the wind drives bales of dry tumbleweed across the seats of the movie theater. A thunderclap makes the audience flinch – the thunderstorm is right over their heads. Then down comes the rain, so close that they can almost feel it.

A hissing rattlesnake darts out of an old tipper truck and turns into the ghost of the old mine keeper, who takes the visitors on a helter-skelter journey through the haunted mine.

The illusion is created by state-of-the-art video and audio engineering methods. The IOSONO sound system developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau ensures perfect acoustic reproduction in all seats – regardless whether a viewer is sitting at the front or the back, at the side or in the middle.

Until now, only a few seats offered perfect surround sound. The traditional multi-channel system works by cleverly mixing the sound signals coming from right and left, back and front, but the desired surround-sound effect is only achieved at a central point in the room, the so-called "sweet spot".

IOSONO no longer has such a sweet spot, or rather, the sweet spot is everywhere. A ring of loudspeakers is positioned right round the movie theater. The acoustic signals emitted by the speakers overlap and interact in such a way as to create the perfect surround sound experience in every seat. "The IOSONO technology makes sound waves spread evenly across the room, rather like the ripples you create when you throw a pebble into a pond," explains Dr. Sandra Brix of the IDMT, a member of the IOSONO development team.

A "synthetic wave field" is generated by superimposing the sound waves from all 432 loudspeakers. Although calculated by several computers, this wave field conveys a realistic impression of natural sound. Nothing is left to chance: The sound engineer can place a virtual sound source at any point in the room, and the software ensures that the loudspeakers produce the corresponding acoustic signals – such as the rattlesnake, which appears poised to strike the viewer, regardless of whether he or she is sitting in the front or the back row.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Ultra-flat loudspeakers with powerful sound reproduction

Related Stories

Ultra-flat loudspeakers with powerful sound reproduction

September 3, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Bigger speakers, bigger sound - this is the music lover’s creed. Flat panel loudspeakers offer an alternative to those who would rather not or cannot clutter up their homes with speakers. These speakers ...

D-Cinema -- coming soon to this movie theater

August 22, 2007

Digital films of outstanding picture quality are set to attract movie fans back to the cinema. At the International Broadcast Convention IBC in Amsterdam on September 7-11, Fraunhofer research scientists are presenting important ...

Research for a multimedia lifestyle

July 28, 2005

Listening, viewing, mobile activity – nearly everybody uses digital technology every day without even realizing. At the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, researchers present the latest developments in picture and ...

Recommended for you

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.