The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is shaping up to be a groundbreaking event for film technology. First, we heard that Director Peter Jackson shot the film at 48 frames-per-second, and now he's telling us that the film's sound will be mixed for Dolby's ultra-intense new Atmos system.
Dolby Atmos allows a film's sound designers to map sounds to each of up to 128 locations in a theatre — including above the audience. (How many of the 128 potential elements are used is up to both the designers and the constraints of a particular theatre, but the minimum number of speakers is 32.) The technology is a huge leap forward from the 7.1 channel surround sound available to designers before.
The system launched earlier this year with Brave at just a handful of locations, but Dolby says that between 80 and 100 theatres in the US and Canada will be ready for the Hobbit's Atmos mix by the time the film comes out on December 14. Check back at this site for an updated list of Atmos-ready theatres. [Dolby via Engadget]