Futuresource Consulting’s Audio Collaborative 2019


Audio Collaborative, the premier event for consumer audio, pro audio and entertainment industry professionals, returned to London in November for a day of invaluable insights, expert discussions and networking opportunities. Participants and attendees included senior executives from the content and broadcast industry, the service provider community, audio hardware and related tech industries. Renowned for always addressing the hot topics and issues of the day, this year’s event was no different. Data-rich Futuresource presentations were accompanied by expert insights and panels from industry heavyweights. Industry experts from Dolby, Meridian Audio, Bang & Olufsen, KEF Audio, WS Audiology, Poly, and Beyerdynamic joined the stellar line-up for this year’s conference.

During this event’s closing session, Carl Hibbert, Head of Consumer Media and Technology at Futuresource, talked with Bill Neighbors, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cinema and Home – Xperi, and Pete Wood, Senior Vice President, New Media Distribution – Sony Pictures, about a new initiative to bring enhanced experiences to consumers. In this case, involving IMAX Enhanced. In September last year, IMAX Corp. and DTS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xperi, announced an expansion of the IMAX Enhanced ecosystem spanning new streaming platforms, movies from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and other studios, and device partners throughout the USA, Europe and China. Earlier in 2019, Sony promoted the fi rst generation of IMAX Enhanced content, hardware and services. Regarding the audio level, IMAX and DTS agreed to use a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology

integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an IMAX signature sound experience with more immersive, powerful sound.

The panel discussion at Audio Collaborative was all about enhancing the home cinema experience with the best the industry can offer. Here’s how the conversation unfolded… Carl Hibbert: Screen technology is improving and blends well with improved, converged audio, such as IMAX Enhanced. How have your companies worked together on this? Bill Neighbors: IMAX is held in very high regard as the best way to experience a movie cinematically. Over 20 years we’ve continued to develop a process, with technology in video enhancement that made the transition from digital cinema. Here we are today with displays capable of taking what we thought was a fantastic experience on HD TV and now exposing things the artist doesn’t necessarily want exposed. We’re now looking at 4K and 8K and everything else. CH: Partnerships are key and what the industry

is pushing for, but what pain points have you come across along the way? Pete Wood: If you go back in time, there’s a

reoccurring issue of technology moving forward and content trying to catch up. Or technology moving forward at the cost of quality of content. There’s new technology out there, which is great – the hardware is ready but the services aren’t.

We learnt over time that doing these things in isolation, without partnership, leads to an inconsistent consumer experience. Whenever we think about doing something new, we always think ‘how is this going to affect the consumer, is it actually going to do something positive for them?’ BN: From our side, the consumer has always been at the heart of what we do. I agree that different pieces of the ecosystem get ahead of one another, but we believe that consumer demand is a major driver behind this partnership. CH: With the formalised IMAX Enhanced platform,

what are the key focusses in this ecosystem? PW: When we launched HD streaming services or video on demand that was in HD, but it was 40 per cent of the actual volume of content, but looking at broadband speeds in Europe eight or nine years ago when it launched, only about 10 per cent of consumer homes could actually receive it. We spend a lot of time looking at parity and looking at the future. When we think of IMAX as a brand and an experience, it’s already fi xing some of the problems of getting the parity experience at home that’s also expected in the cinema, which we think is great. That, with the help of Xperi, which is an expert in many areas, leads to a deeper partnership to play at the edge of what immersive technology will be over the next fi ve to 10 years. Whoever delivers it, there will be someone that needs to create it and that will be us.

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