Dolby Atmos® is an immersive technology, which allows you to position sound elements in a three-dimensional space. It gives you the ability to create a single mix that can be monitored and delivered in a variety of formats. Over the years, Dolby Atmos has become ubiquitous in film, television, music, and video game production. With the Pro Tools 2023.12 software release, Atmos integration is now better than ever because Dolby has provided us the tools to integrate their renderer directly into Pro Tools, so you can mix in Dolby Atmos without having to use (and purchase) the external Dolby Atmos Renderer application. This enabled us to greatly simplify the setup and use of Dolby Atmos within Pro Tools, while lowering the cost for you as the new integrated renderer is included free in both Pro Tools Studio and Ultimate.
Watch the in-depth video about using the new integrated Pro Tools Dolby Atmos renderer:
The Pro Tools Dolby Atmos renderer supports direct monitoring of the following formats: Binaural, 2.0, 5.1, 7.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.4 (Studio and Ultimate) and 9.1.6 (Ultimate only). Binaural can be monitored from your main output, or sent as an independent headphone mix, allowing you to maintain a separate monitor format from your speakers. The Dolby Atmos integration also offers an independent re-render that can be used for loudness metering with your choice of plugin, or as an additional 5.1 or 2.0 send/print of the mix. We’ve prepared this document to help answer common questions about the current Dolby Atmos integration in Pro Tools.
This video gives you a tour of the Dolby Atmos demo session included in Pro Tools that is accessed from the “Getting Started” tab of the Dashboard:
SUPPORT FOR EXTERNAL DOLBY ATMOS RENDERER APPLICATION
Pro Tools still maintains support with the external Dolby Atmos Renderer application, with an easy toggle between the internal and external modes. You may decide that the built-in Dolby Atmos renderer meets your needs most of the time, but there are a few use cases where the separate Dolby Atmos Renderer application is required. You may also find yourself in a situation where a session needs to travel between a system configured with the Dolby Atmos Renderer application and a system with the built-in Pro Tools Dolby Atmos renderer. The decision to use the built-in Dolby Atmos renderer versus the Dolby Atmos Renderer application is purely dependent on your workflow needs and preferences.
To help you decide what is right for you, here are some reasons why you still may require the external Dolby Atmos Renderer:
- Dolby Atmos Music Panner support
- Support for larger post-production workflows like dubbing using multi-system configurations
- Recording and punching into a .atmos file
- Export of MP4 files
- Built-in room correction tools
- Additional speaker configurations (beyond 9.1.6, 7.1.4, 5.1.4, 5.1.2, 7.1, 5.1, 2.0, binaural)
- Speaker array mode
- Ability to monitor live re-renders beyond 5.1 loudness and stereo/binaural
ENHANCED DESIGN APPROACH
A design goal with this integration was to unify the existing workflow/look and feel as much as possible, so it doesn’t feel foreign when switching between using the internal renderer and external Dolby Atmos Renderer application. That being said, we also looked for ways to improve upon the experience. Having our own visualization window allowed us to enhance the 3D perspective. You’ll notice that there are three view modes that can be selected: Free, Top, and Rear. These modes allow you to switch between a free rotation mode, or quickly re-orient the room in a top-down or rear position. While the Free mode is a great way to visualize the room at an angle, if you manually rotate the room to view the top or rear, it can look rather shallow. The Top and Rear modes not only quickly change the room view, but they also lock it in place, so that the perspective can be optimized, offering more depth.
We kept many of the view options the same as the Dolby Atmos Renderer application. “Theater” and “Person” mode are both present. However, in Dolby’s “Person” mode, the head is vertically centered in the room. In this view, the balls will travel on the z-axis between the ceiling and the height of the ears. We wanted to expand with the visualization of the height, so we’ve placed the head lower in the room. Once we did this, we also decided that it would feel much more natural to treat the height in “Theater” mode in a similar way. Rather than having the balls move between the ceiling and the floor, the balls only travel within the top ⅔’s of the room to more accurately represent the location of the speakers in a real listening environment.
The input metering for the balls and LED section uses peak metering, just as Dolby does. But we decided to only use only a few color values to help you better understand if a certain dB threshold has been crossed. We use dark green starting at -90dB, light green at -20dB, orange at -6dB, and red at 0dB. Output meters are flexible and follow the Pro Tools master meter preferences. You can even switch the channel metering order between Pro Tools Film and Dolby’s order.
Pro Tools has all the same text displays for the objects as the Dolby Atmos Renderer application, but we’ve added an additional display for path name. This allows you to customize the text of your object to see how it relates to specific elements in the session.
MORE TO COME
Our journey with Dolby Atmos is only getting started. We will continue working with Dolby to find new ways to simplify and improve the user experience, as well as delivering enhancements that help you be more creative in an immersive environment.
We also continue to work with other 3rd parties to expand on the immersive experience. AudioMovers and Ginger Audio have developed products that allow you to hear how your Dolby Atmos mix will sound when it is spatialized in binaural for Apple Music. These work really well in conjunction with the Dolby Atmos Renderer application and a 7.1.4 re-render, but you can also bounce a 7.1.4 offline re-render inside Pro Tools and preview the mix that way.
The integrated Pro Tools Dolby Atmos renderer is available to all Pro Tools Studio and Pro Tools Ultimate customers on an active subscription or perpetual license with current Upgrade plan. If you’re new to Pro Tools, you can try out the full features set—including the Atmos renderer—by downloading the free 30-day trial.
For more details about this release, please see the new documentation now available in your Avid Account.
Dolby Atmos is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories.