The AES LA Chapter is probably the best out there and to prove that, the team coordinated a demonstration of the Auro 11.1 format by Barco at the Fox Studios in Culver City. Prior to last night’s demo, I actually hadn’t heard of this format before.
Apparently it’s gaining traction and there’s a handful of titles already encoded with the Auro-Codec. The very next title to be released with this format is Ender’s Game. I plan to watch it in an Auro 11.1 equipped theater (generally deployed at most Cinemark XD theaters). Announcement here.
The general premise behind this format over competitors like Atmos is that it’s an open format. Meaning that once a studio purchases the necessary software and licensing, that’s it, they can mix, encode, and print the film without the need for proprietary hardware and without the need for specialized engineers present to oversee the production process.
As the name of the format implies, there are several additional channels of sound beyond the typical 5.1, 7.1, etc. formats. Broken down into layers, there’s a lower layer, a height layer, and a top layer (voice of God/FX).
The beauty of the format is in its Auro-Codec where it’s able to encode the additional channels into existing 5.1/7.1 PCM carriers.
The format supports channel and object based mixing, which gives the mixer the option to either broadly define where a sound will be reproduced or preciscly place it in a specific channel, respectively.