Posted Tue Jun 23, 2015 at 09:32 AM PDT by Sponsored Post
If there's one thing us home theatre geeks love to do, it's grab friends and family, sit them down in the Sweet Spot, and dazzle their eyes and ears with home cinema audio-visual glory.
But which demo to play?
Keeping track of titles and chapters and time codes can be a hassle so, in what we hope will be a continuing HDD series highlighting amazeballs Blu-ray demos, we figured we'd dive once again into the most recent reference-quality Dolby Atmos Blu-ray.
Written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, 'Jupiter Ascending' is a grand Shakespearian space opera about young Earth woman, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who finds herself thrust squarely into the middle of galactic kingdom's game of thrones. Along the way, Jupiter and her new friend, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), must survive a sea of lies, double crosses, and technological wonders far beyond Jupiter's imagination. With numerous mind-bending action sequences, 'Jupiter Ascending' offers an excellent 3D presentation and numerous ways to show off your surround set-up (even if you don't have Dolby Atmos just yet)...
But here's our Top Five favorites from the movie (mild SPOILERS to follow).
We'll get to the bombast in a moment, but let's begin with a quick and quiet scene for those looking to show off Dolby Atmos' height capabilities and how well this new technology creates a total sonic hemisphere.
Jupiter awakes floating in a strange room as a digital voice informs Jupiter that she is Jupiter's "Chamber Presence" -- it's basically a futuristic version of the iPhone's "Siri". The melodic vocal intonations hang over and envelope the listener, a trick that really makes you feel like you're IN the room with Jupiter. Many surround sound systems can play loud, but they also need to replicate delicacy and nuance.
I choice these two sequences because they're sonically similar -- featuring a blistering array of laster blasts and immersive, aerial combat -- but vastly different lengths. Sometimes you only have time for a quick demo; sometimes you want to drop the mic for an extended time.
The Alley Shootout hearkens back to the opening sequence in 'The Matrix' (when Trinity makes that spectacular leap from building to building). It's a bold sequence introducing Caine Wise while defining this cinematic universe, screaming, "the world looks like ours, but it's also one where aliens have laser weapons and anti-grav boots that allow you to, effectively, rollerblade through the air!" Boom. Characters fly through the air, wielding weapons and future tech, all tracking perfectly around the audience. Laser blasts, specifically impact and ricochet with a delightful accuracy.
Our Ride's Here is the demo for people who have a little more time. This might be my favorite sequence in the whole film. A balls to the wall setpiece, it begins with a sense of wonder as Caine floats with Jupiter up to a waiting semi-transparent space ship -- it's gorgeous. When the space baddies arrive and destroy Caine's ride, the whole thing devolves into a cat n' mouse chase across Chicago...but with, you know, space ships.
Here we get a repeat of highly articulate panning in the form of more laser blasts and explosions, but what makes this sequence an audio stunner is the vast range of sonic environments the audiences experiences... from open air to under water to on city streets to the interior of space ships. This sequence represents what audio geeks typically gravitate towards in demo -- cinematic chaos carefully orchestrated by master sound designers.
While much of the film is set in sterile sci-fi environments -- ships and cities and refineries -- this final "tag" scene in 'Jupiter Ascending' showcases the sound mixers' use of subtle effects to create a realistic environment (FWIW, the sequences at the farm house are also pretty good at doing this).
Given that this is the last scene in the movie, this is likely to be the most SPOILERIFIC demo description, but then again, if you've watched enough movies, you can probably guess which characters survive all the way through.
This demo begins in Jupiter's house, offering a wonderful transition moment where Jupiter's family, asking about her mysterious date, erupt in laughter which morphs into soft, swirling winds as Jupiter and Caine sit atop a Chicago skyscraper. Through their conversation, the environment the side, rear, and heigh surrounds are rich with wind, music, and other small details.
And, finally, the sequence builds as our characters enjoy [their date activity], which climaxes with one last Dolby Atmos flourish... the sound panning hard from left to right and up and over our heads. It's a fun way to end a demo or the film.
Low Frequency Effects are designed to rumble and roar, to proverbially punch you in the gut while making your home theatre feel energized (or perhaps "pressurized"). The catch, of course, is that most mixes save LFE for explosions and gun shots and monstrous beasts, which makes total sense as theses effects are generally saved for bigger setpieces.
But what I really love is when sound designers surprise us by tucking LFE into an effect that really creates character. In this demo, we begin during a comedic Jones family argument back on Earth when all of a sudden a strange light fills the room, rattling dishes, and monstrous alien lizard men drop in through the ceiling. They stomp and roar and threaten, but the highlight comes as they speak. With each uttered line, the ".1" channel offers up gorgeous grunt and depth without unneeded "booming". Again, we're filing this one more under nuance than bombast because our next demo is all about those things.
SPOILERS for those who don't wish to know where the climax takes place and what type of setpiece it is...
When 'Jupiter Ascending' reaches its climax, it takes everything that's worked well in the mix before -- aggressive panning, dynamic and nuanced sound effects, guttural LFE, and spherical immersion -- and adds a collapsing/exploding alien refinery that's set inside the red eye of that massive storm on Jupiter (the planet, not the main character). This sequence has everything from hand to hand combat to booming explosions and roaring spacecraft engines.
In other words, its nine-plus minutes of controlled aural chaos, Dolby Atmos style.
What about you, dear Reader, what 'Jupiter Ascending', Dolby Atmos, 7.1, or 5.1 Blu-ray demos do you pop in to show off your home theatre? Let us know below, or in the forums.
Dolby Atmos Titles Released
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount Pictures)
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount Pictures)
3. Step up All In (Lionsgate)
4. Expendables 3 (Lionsgate)
5. John Wick (Lionsgate)
6. On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (Red Bull Media House)
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (Lionsgate)
8. Unbroken (Universal)
9. Gravity (Warner Bros.)
10. American Sniper (Warner Bros)
11. Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros)
Dolby Atmos Titles Announced
12. The Gunman (Universal): Release date June 30, 2015
13. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate): Release date August 4, 2015
14. Age of Adeline (Lionsgate): Release date September 8, 2015
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