Dolby Surround 7.1 will be premiered for the first time in public with the release of Toy Story 3 this Friday, June 18. Dolby Laboratories and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (WDSMP) announced yesterday that both 2D and 3D formats of Toy Story 3 will be released globally in Dolby Surround 7.1. WDSMP also plans to release Step Up 3D in both 2D and 3D formats with Dolby Surround 7.1 in August.

Toy Story 3 will be released in Dolby Surround 7.1 in 12 languages in select cinema chains throughout Australia, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latin America, New Zealand, North America, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

“We are always looking for ways to push the cinematic envelope and bring more realistic and exciting sensory experiences to our audiences,” said Gary Weaver, senior vp, administration, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “By collaborating with Dolby Laboratories, we have raised the bar for moviegoers by delivering a superior audio format that complements both 2D and 3D digital cinema. Dolby Surround 7.1 will provide audiences around the globe with the most immersing audio entertainment experience available.”

The Dolby Surround 7.1 format is made up of eight channels of audio, with the following channel layout: Left, Center, Right, Low-Frequency Effects (LFE), Left Surround, Right Surround, Back Surround Left (new), and Back Surround Right (new). According to a Dolby spokesperson, Dolby Surround 7.1 “improves the spatial dimension of soundtracks and enhances audio definition” to create full-featured audio that better matches the visual impact of movies.

With the ability for content creators to mix in a discrete 7.1 format, Dolby Surround 7.1 provides four surround zones to better orchestrate audio channels in a movie theatre. The four surround zones incorporate the traditional Left Surround and Right Surround with new Back Surround Left and Back Surround Right zones. The addition of the two Back Surround zones enhances directionality in panning 360 degrees around the theatre.

Dolby Surround 7.1 is particularly relevant to the new boom in 3D stereoscopic movies. “It brings a more exciting sensory experience to audiences for 2D and gives content creators control over audio placement in a theatre when mixing 3D movies,” says the Dolby spokesperson. “The ability to compose audio with visual elements of 3D allows content creators to immerse the audience deeper into the movie with dramatic realism.”

“This year Dolby cinema celebrates 40 years of helping filmmakers realize their artistic vision through continued innovation in audio and visual technologies,” says Page Haun, senior director of marketing, Cinema Market Segment, Dolby Laboratories. “Today, we are pleased to continue this tradition by offering Dolby Surround 7.1, giving filmmakers greater control over the definition and placement of sounds better representing the creative vision for the movies they produce.”

Dolby Laboratories had previously announced at ShoWest that it was working with Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios to deliver Dolby Surround 7.1 for the release of Toy Story 3 in 3D this June.