LT1 features a DCi compliant Barco 2K digital projector, able to fill the 8m matt-white screen with the latest films. A Dolby DSS200 digital cinema server hosts the content and is played back using the Dolby Theatre management software, creating automation cues for lights, screen masking, sound and playback. An Xpand active-shutter 3D system also allows playback of 3D content.
Alternative content (non DCP digital cinema files) can be played back using the same projector via a Barco 2K video-scaler to obtain a crisp, bright image, from other sources. Blu-ray and DVD playback are supported using either consoles or a dedicated blu-ray player, a PC/Mac can also be used to play back content or demonstrate software.
The sound system is comprised of the latest format from Dolby: Atmos. Atmos is an object-based audio system allowing for a more immersive sound experience for film, due to added speakers and improved technology. Extra wide speakers either side of the screen allow for smooth panning and movement of sounds off the screen, whereas traditional 5.1 and 7.1 channel-based formats would be missing speakers, creating a ‘gap’ in the sound-field. All surround speakers are also individually addressable, meaning a sound can come from just one speaker, rather than a surround ‘array’ of speakers; this adds another level of detail within sound mixing. With the addition of extra subwoofers and a bass management system, the surround speakers can also replay full-range audio, creating a sonically improved sound compared to legacy systems. To fully immerse the audience, overhead speakers are fixed to the ceiling, allowing for sound overhead.
Using Avid Pro Tools digital audio workstation (DAW), users can edit and mix their session using the Dolby RMU (Rendering and Mastering Unit), from the middle of the auditorium. An Avid S3 control surface and Avid transport control can be placed on a desk with remote operation of the DAW over a KVM. An Adderlink IP-based KVM extends mouse, keyboard and 2x DVI displays for high-quality remote control, as within professional studios. This allows all noisy equipment to remain within an isolated, temperature controlled machine room.
Students can use the Pro Tools system to mix and author 5.1 and 7.1 mixes as part of their course, and can use the Dolby RMU to gain experience of Atmos mixing, and to understand this new workflow for mixing sound for cinema.
The room configuration and speaker calibration is setup on the Dolby RMU and the Dolby CP850 Cinema Processor. These are the processors that render a personalised Atmos soundtrack suitable for the room, in real-time. The amplifier control and routing ‘back-end’ side of the audio system is based on the QSC Q-sys IP-based digital audio platform, remotely controlled from a PC within the projection room. This powerful DPS software can also be used as a useful teaching tool due to the visual ‘block’ nature of the design platform.
The University is currently one of only three in the world, and the only UK University to have a Dolby Atmos system. We’re also currently the only cinema south of London to be able to present in the format. With the RMU, we’re within a group of less than 10 in the UK to be able to mix in the format.
LT1 seats 96 for traditional lectures or film screenings. With a shorter than usual throw distance (between audience and screen), viewing films in LT1 makes for a very immersive experience.
Sonar Film, the University's film society, presents new films for students and staff every day for £4, and £4.50 for all others. Any profit is put back into the society, for running special events and improving the service provided.