Out with Kodak, in with Dolby at home of Oscars

LOS ANGELES Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:33pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Down came Kodak, and up went the Dolby signs at the home of the Oscars, as film industry sound company Dolby Laboratories on Monday unveiled a high-tech, 3D cinema system at the theater that now bears its name.

The owners of the venue in downtown Hollywood that hosts the world's top film awards annually have re-christened it the Dolby Theatre.

It had been known as the Kodak Theatre since it first opened in 2001, but after imaging and photographic equipment maker Eastman Kodak Co filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, it moved to get out of its naming rights contract.

With the change, Dolby showed off its latest innovations meant to transform the 3,400-seat live-show theater into a state-of-the-art performance space with new audio technology and 3D visual systems.

"This is an opportunity to continue our commitment to an industry we've been committed to for 40 years," Kevin Yeaman, chief executive of Dolby, told reporters.

The Dolby Theatre spans 180,000 square feet (16,723 square meters) on several floors, a size that dwarfs most movie theaters. To enhance the cinema experience, designers added a 60-foot by 32-foot (17-metre by 10-metre) movie screen, two digital projectors, 164 loudspeakers, and two trusses over the audience with 22 aligned speakers on each.

The new 3D design employs a three-color system mimicking the human left and right eye to provide sharper images and color.

David Gray, vice president of worldwide production services at Dolby, called the upgrade "a complete game-changer" for the theater.

"A director can make this space be the reality that he or she wants you to experience," said Gray.

The new technology is made to scale, so it can adapt to theaters of any size, from art-house screens to megaplexes, Dolby said.

(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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