Academy-Award Winning Cinema Pioneer Creates Theater Sound for the 21st Century
Sound pioneer Tomlinson Holman, developer of the Lucasfilm THX Sound System© used in thousands of movie theaters, recently received a 2001 Academy Award Certificate for Technical Achievement recognizing his more than two decades of research as an audio engineer at the forefront of movie theater acoustics and speaker technology.
In addition to developing THX -- the name derived from Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment -- Holman was lead developer of George Lucas's state-of-the-art cinema production facilities Skywalker Ranch and Skywalker Sound.
Now a professor and researcher at NSF's Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) at the University of Southern California, Holman is focusing on the next generation of cinema sound, especially the 10.2-channel surround sound system. The 10.2 system, designed for public and home theater use, uses 12 speakers in 10 locations, plus two subwoofers, to create a better sense of aural immersion.
The ranges of pitches and loudness for cinema sound have already exceeded the limits of human hearing and Holman believes sound space is the next frontier for audio research. Under the direction of Chris Kyriakakis and Holman, NSF's IMSC Immersive Audio Lab is researching methods to expand these spatial limits - what Holman calls "the Manifest Destiny of recorded sound."
"Here is where we can push the scientific envelope," said Holman of the Immersive Audio Lab, where he conducts his research. "Many people who hear of 10.2-channel sound say its crazy . . . that's exactly where we should be. Then when they actually hear it, they're astounded."
-- Josh Chamot