Dolby Laboratories, the US-based company specialising in audio noise reduction and technology for sound design and engineering, has brought its Dolby Institute initiative to India. The institute is conducting a series of interactions and workshops across film and television institutes film studios and broadcast networks such as Epic and STAR India.
“We feel there is immense talent here. We hope eventually, we shall be able to start a brick-and-mortar institute not only in the US, but in India, too,” said Glenn Kiser, director of Dolby Institute.
Launched at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the institute aims to help engage and educate artists and filmmakers on the importance of sound and picture to the overall film experience. It also seeks to encourage filmmakers and artists to think critically about these tools.
“This is our first time in India and we realise the Indian media and entertainment industry has a lot going for itself. Not only is the visual content vibrant, there is also immense talent in professionals here. Our interaction with students at FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) in Pune earlier this week showed us the talent pool on offer,” Kiser said.
Kiser and Steven Cahill, a sound designer involved with the institute, will be in India for a week. The two are meeting broadcasters to educate and exchange notes on sound production and processing.
“The Indian (media and entertainment) sector is at an inflection point of sorts, thanks to the emergence of HD (high-definition) technology, not only for television sets, but also for production. What HD does is it gives the chance to produce more sophisticated and film-quality content for the small screen. In the US, we are seeing a lot of technicians and professionals make a transition from cinema to television, as content production becomes more sophisticated,” Kiser says.
Cahill says, “Apart from imparting technical knowledge and holding discussions on the technical nuances of sound design, I feel it is very important for new filmmakers to realise attention towards the visual component of the projects (film or television) can always be heavily skewed against the sound component; that is something they should be wary of. It is very easy to get carried away and keep on adding layers to the visual component and keep the sound bit for the end. This means you have less time to experiment with the sound and provide finesse on that front. You have to learn where to stop with the visual and concentrate equally on the sound, if you want to dish out good, technically sound and holistic content, especially in the age of technologies such as HD and Dolby Atmos.”
Dolby Institute, Kiser says, has tied up with the Sundance Academy in the US and offers grants to a film project every year. The institute, along with those at Sundance, choose a film they feel has the content and scope for sound sophistication and requires a grant and helps the filmmaker(s) not only financially, but also gives advice on sound processing and design. The first such fellowship was given to Mike Cahills I Origin in December 2013, under the Dolby Family Fund Sound Fellowship. The film was later screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
“We would love to do this more frequently every year. In fact, we are searching for an Indian partner to get the fellowship to India! We need someone who can help filter the projects and help us understand the context of the content; we are ready to help with the sound design,” says Kiser.