The whirlwind of success surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody shows no signs of stopping after the film scooped up a few Oscars this week, and thanks in part to its success, now's the perfect opportunity for integrators to use the film as a way to demo the benefits of immersive audio.
UltraHD Blu-ray disc packages are now available, featuring 4K picture quality and support for Dolby Atmos. After a few re-watches, the movie seems almost tailor fit for dealer demo purposes thanks to its crisp sound and creative use of the soundstage.
Here are 4 notable scenes to consider during your next demo:
4 Scenes from Bohemian Rhapsody Showcasing Dolby Atmos
I've been lucky enough to have Sony's reference-level VPL-VW995ES laser 4K projector, along with a Stewart Filmscreen Phantom HALR screen in my home to watch the movie. I'm also fortunate to have a 7.4.2 immersive audio system that includes an Onkyo receiver and speakers from Aerial Acoustics, Emotiva, and Triad.
The sound of the movie defines immersive, which is partially why the movie won a pair of audio-related Oscars, one of which was for sound mixing.
Getting help from Queen’s guitar player Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, the movie’s sound editing team reportedly used content from Queen’s catalog and its Live Aid performance to create the movie’s sound.
Chapter 4 is really where the movie starts flexing its immersive audio muscles. Introducing the new lead singer (Freddie Mercury) and bass player John Deacon, this scene features a rough start to Freddie Mercury's career fronting the band.
As May, Taylor, and Dean open with “Keep Yourself Alive,” Freddie is wrestling with his mic stand, and listeners can hear guitars in the right side of the mix, with the rest of the band sitting in the center-left and surrounds.
The sound is big, and later as the scene progresses, the band is shown in the studio. As someone says in the background, “we need to get experimental,” sound pans hard left and right almost like a ping-pong effect.
Building a fan base, Queen is on the road in America and we see a tour bus, scenes of live performances, and a collage of road travel. “Fat Bottomed Girls“ is playing while the road noise and crowd noise is dispersed into the mix's front, surround and height channels.
The scene also has a thumping kick drum that is central to the song's tempo and ends with a swoosh of a jet flying overhead and touching down in another city.
At approximately the 38:50 mark of the movie, the inspiration of the recording studio's remote scenic location hits Freddie as the band is recording, and it sparks Freddie to work on “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
This scene really captures the sounds someone would hear in a rehearsal space, with the piano sounding a bit “boxy” acoustically and the dry vocals of Mercury working through the song's first verse. As the scene shifts to May working out one of his solo spots in the song, May's famous “cocked wah” sound is heard through his Vox AC30 amplifier and his “Red Special” guitar.
May and Mercury are then seen discussing a second take of the solo, and you can hear the difference of May talking into the pickups of his guitar rig, which is mic'd up, and the talkback system of the recording studio, which is how Freddie is communicating with May.
Later, as Taylor and Mercury are working on the operatic section “Galileos,” Mercury asks Taylor to sing higher, and Taylor replies that “only dogs will hear me.” As the section nears completion, the rest of the band is brought in to add more vocals, and these vocals can be heard “flying around the soundstage.”
Queen's Live Aid Performance:
Coming off a hiatus, the newly reunited Queen affirms its place as one of the world's greatest rock bands by taking part in the 1985 benefit show Live Aid.
The movie's producers recreate the entire 23-minute performance including what is essentially a medley of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Hammer to Fall,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions.”
Through the help of Taylor and May, viewers can see details like May's “wet/dry/wet” guitar rig, and May switching guitars during “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,“ including his use of an Ovation acoustic guitar for the song's beginning and a Fender Telecaster for the song's guitar solo.
The recreation opens with a camera flying over the Wembley Stadium crowd with the crowd noise as the base level sound, and the “moving” effect within the height channels of sailing over this mass of humanity.
Freddie takes the stage and starts “Bohemian Rhapsody“ and its iconic piano riff. You can hear the ambiance of the stadium through the reverb on the piano, as well as Mercury's vocals and a massive sounding kick drum.
As Queen transitions into “Radio Ga Ga“ listeners can hear the crowd volume swelling and the crowd singing the song's chorus.
Cutting to a scene of people manning the charity's phones, you can hear the ringing in the rear surrounds and front speakers.
Towards the end of Queen's Live Aid set, the ambiance of the crowd clapping and cheering is as realistic as any concert documentary, and the immersiveness of this sequence brings listeners as close to being in London on July 13, 1985 as anyone could ever be.
As the band winds down, the mix creates a powerful moment with the crowd singing “We are the Champions,“ providing an experience any rock concert attendee can relate to, all thanks to the Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound format.
The Queen biopic movie Bohemian Rhapsody was released in Nov. 2018 and more recently it was released as a home video on Feb. 12 in versions that include UltraHD and Blu-ray disc packages.
According to the publication The Hollywood Reporter, the movie pulled in more than $200 million in the U.S. and more than $800 million in worldwide ticket sales to rank as one of the most successful movies of the year.
Quickly proving the home video's release would be just as popular, the website Mediaplaynews.com is reporting Bohemian Rhapsody debuted as the top selling video for the week that ended on Feb. 16.
Of those home video sales the website says, 73 percent were physical media, with Blu-ray leading the way.
It should be noted that UltraHD Blu-ray discs did make up 13 percent of those sales, which means that a large number of consumers have the ability to see the movie in 4K—and just as important—those people also get to experience Queen's music and the movie soundtrack in Dolby Atmos.