Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
Deepwater Horizon is a Blu-ray release that should be celebrated for its highly energetic Dolby Atmos soundtrack. However, before I can even begin to praise the work that has been done on this sound mix, I need to instead rant against those responsible for abandoning Atmos on Blu-ray.
I have been a huge supporter of Dolby Atmos, Even when I was told my home theater didn't have the proper specifications for installation, I went ahead and invested thousands of dollars to upgrade my receiver and have four overhead speakers installed above my listening area.
I have used this forum on many occasions to proclaim the benefits of Atmos to our membership. It is by far the most noteworthy upgrade I have done to my home theater since moving from DVD to Blu-ray. The addition of adding overhead sound elements provides a more rewarding, immersive viewing experience than I could ever have imagined.
But somebody either at Dolby or at the studios made a rather idiotic decision to severely restrict the inclusion of Atmos on Blu-ray releases, instead, delegating it exclusively to 4k. Not a very cool thing to do to those of us who are still struggling with the costs of upgrading to 4k, and instead opted to invest instead in Atmos. The "powers that be" decided that Atmos was going to be primarily a format for 4k releases.
Some have recommended to me that I simply purchase a 4k player and "down-rez" the picture while retaining the 4k audio output. While that is a solution for some, it shouldn't be a requirement for all. After all, Blu-ray is still the dominant disc format. It deserves to be treated with a little more respect. Making Atmos exclusive to 4k doesn't entice consumers to upgrade --- it just pisses them off for putting their faith and hard-earned money into the new sound format, only to see themselves deprived of it.
My rant is over. Trust I wrote all of this with a purpose and I hope it to get noticed. Please, if any Atmos enthusiasts agree or disagree with me, post your thought here. They will directed to the individuals that matter.
For anyone who has (or doesn't have) Atmos in their home, Deepwater Horizon is an essential purchase for many reasons. First, it does an exceptional job of telling the story of the 2010 explosion of the off-shore oil rig operated by Transocean, who was drilling for BP. This is an incident still very fresh in the public's mind, and the film does an excellent job of telling its story based on actual facts. It's about as big a disaster film as you could want, though this was a disaster that cost real lives and impacted the surrounding environment.
Instead of focusing on the quality of the transfer, which is first-rate, I want to concentrate on the Atmos mix, which is something to behold!
It has been said that sound is half the picture. Since upgrading to Atmos, that's a statistic I no longer believe. I think a well-placed and calibrated sound field can provide the listener with a far more realistic auditory experience. It's the sound that becomes the most immersive part of the home theater experience.
To be able to sit in the "sweet spot" in my recliner chair and feel as if I am on an actual exploding oil rig says volumes about the way speaker placement affects my senses. Deepwater Horizon provides a pounding, explosive sound experience -- not just in its noisiest moments --- but in near silence when every creak of a failing oil rig is conveyed through multiple surrounding channels.
While rumbling bass can make me feel the ground deteriorating under me, it's the overhead and surrounding channels that put me dead-center, as a witness to the catastrophe that is unfolding before my eyes. Sound effects are expertly placed in each channel --- around and above --- to maximize the overall impression of "being there." I applaud the amount of care that has been given to this sound mix. It's one of the best I have had the opportunity to hear.
The film boasts a great cast including Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich. Well acted and brought to the screen with amazing effects work, the film does a great job of giving honor to those that not only lost their lives but helped prevent more lives from being lost.
In a year that's only a few days old, it's odd to place Deepwater Horizon as the very best audio experience thus far. However, if you are going to start the New Year off with a BANG, this is the only way to do it.