Tata IPL 2023: Dolby’s Jayant Shah talks about IPL live audio technology, video mixing process and more


It has been more than a month that the country is watching Tata IPL 2023 from the comfort of their homes on Star Sports. With each passing year, the experience of watching sports on your TV becomes more interesting and exciting.

For the second consecutive year, the IPL cricket tournament is being telecast on Star Sports 1 HD and Star Sports 1 Hindi HD with Dolby Atmos. That’s right, Dolby Atmos is live for sports like cricket and if you’ve been watching IPL matches on Star Sports, you might have noticed some audio improvements in the overall experience.

That’s Dolby Atmos in play. We visited the Star Sports office in Mumbai to know more about Dolby Atmos for sports. If you are interested in knowing how live audio mixing works for sports, how Dolby Atmos works, and what is the future of audio-visual experiences on Star Sports broadcast channels, then continue reading this article.

In a brief chat with Jayant Shah, Director of Apps & Solutions Engineering at Dolby Laboratories, we discussed almost everything about audio and video for live sports like cricket on Star Sports.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the Q&A.

How was your experience working with Star Sports?

Since Dolby and Disney Star have been working together for years, Shah said that working with Star Sports has been a great experience. Starting with Dolby 5.1 to now Atmos, this journey has been about enhancing the audio experience at home for the viewers and giving them a stadium like experience from the comfort of their homes.

Since Dolby and Star Sports have a long-standing partnership, how did the idea of ​​bringing Atmos to cricket (eg IPL) come about?

With Dolby and Disney Star bringing Dolby Atmos to cricket for the second year in a row with the IPL, we asked both the brands how the idea for this collaboration came about.

Shah said that the idea of ​​bringing Dolby Atmos to cricket came about simply because we thought of enhancing the experience for the home audience and provide better audio experience while watching the game at home.

Till now, there has been Dolby 5.1 which requires a set of speakers to enjoy the audio. However, with Atmos, multiple speakers aren’t necessary. Even a simple stereo speaker setup of a Dolby Atmos-enabled TV or your connected Atmos-enabled audio system is enough to get an immersive experience.

Can you tell us about the live mixing process for Dolby Atmos for sports?

Shah said that the live mixing process is extremely creative. Initially, microphones placed in the stadium capture all sound coming from the venue and send it to a console in the Dolby audio room of the Star Sports office. Additional audio can be obtained from a number of sources such as recorded archive footage and slow-motion replay machines which are all mixed into the final output.

Image: Pranav Sawant/Teclusive

Then, the mix engineer in the Dolby Atmos audio mixing room works at the console to create an immersive mix that replicates the presence of the stadium as closely as possible. The creative freedom enabled by the Dolby Atmos format allows the mix engineer to strike a balance between stadium ambiance, on-field gameplay and commentary. This ensures that on-field sound and commentary can be heard clearly even when the stadium is cheering loudly.

Even in case of video, multiple cameras in the stadium are capturing multiple things in the live match. Live video from multiple cameras is then sent via fiber or satellite to the mixing room or PCR (Production Control Room).

star pcr ipl

Image: Pranav Sawant/Teclusive

In PCR the director and team, consisting of several members, decide which cameras to use and then switch between cameras, replays and graphics to produce the final output. This is done in several PCRs, one for each of several different regional languages. Now, this is an interesting bit.

Each feed is optimized for a regional “home” audience. For example, if it is a match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai team is winning, then the Marathi audience will see different visuals on the screen than the Tamil audience.

Image: Pranav Sawant/Teclusive

This is only to ensure that the respective home spectators can match the mood of the stadium for their supporting teams. Marathi viewers will see visuals of the victory and celebrations, while Tamil viewers watching in Tamil may not be shown visuals of Mumbai fans celebrating. Rather, they may be shown visuals about CSK, or may be directed to points table rankings.

Which Dolby Codec is being used for sports like IPL on Star Sports?

Dolby Digital Plus is the codec being used for IPL on Star Sports, as Shah said in the interview. This is the same codec that was used for matches in previous years when Dolby 5.1 was in use. This ensures backward compatibility with older systems that may only be capable of 5.1 surround audio. Dolby Atmos simply requires a higher bitrate to accommodate the extra detail in the Atmos audio mix.

Which hardware devices come into the picture for such audio mixing?

“A variety of mixing consoles can be used for live Dolby Atmos mixing. In general, most broadcast consoles that can be used for live 5.1 channel surround sound mixing can also be configured to mix in Dolby Atmos. In terms of speakers, monitoring can be done on any broadcast audio monitor. As we move from stereo to 5.1 and Dolby Atmos mix monitoring, the number of monitoring speakers only increases. Any professional speaker used for live mixing in stereo or surround sound can also be used for Dolby Atmos,” said Shah.

Image: Pranav Sawant/Teclusive

Currently, the star is using audio consoles from Germany-based brand LAWO for sound mixing. It has installed Genelec speakers for studio monitoring.

What do consumers need to enjoy this Atmos-enabled gaming experience at home?

Shah said that thanks to Dolby Atmos, people do not need a fancy setup of multiple speakers.

Video: Traditional stereo (two speakers), surround sound (5.1 or 7.1, requires multiple-speaker setup), Atmos (can operate on two or more Atmos-enabled speakers).

Instead, the stereo speaker setup of any Dolby Atmos-enabled TV or soundbar is sufficient to get a great audio experience for sports at home.

What does the future look like? viewership

Asked this question, Shah said that for a game like cricket, there is ‘a lot to do with Atmos’ on the audio front. It’s about how much more we can capture with the microphone on the field.
“It depends on how far you want to go. There is no limit to innovation and we can keep adding more.

Star gave us some official figures regarding its viewership on Star Sports. Star Sports witnessed a total viewership of 482 million across the first 66 matches, the highest ever reach for any edition of the IPL, surpassing the previous highest recorded in 2019.

Tata Aftermath IPL 2023: Dolby’s Jayant Shah speaks first on Techlusive about IPL live audio tech, video mixing process and more.

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