Life of Pi Behind the Sound

Behind the Sound of Life of Pi with Dolby Atmos

"Dolby Atmos is an incredible system. It is for music and sound what 3D is for visuals."

Mychael Danna

Memorable Dolby Atmos Sound Moments in Life of Pi

Dolby Atmos and Dynamic Mixing
Flight of the Fish 
Storm of Sound 

Ang Lee Life of Pi


(Douglas Hemphill, Ang Lee, and Ronald Bartlett)

Dolby® Atmos™ brings a powerful new listening experience to the cinema with more natural, realistic sound that truly envelops the audience. The Dolby Atmos platform also makes it easy for content creators to design immersive soundscapes while ensuring the best possible audience experience, regardless of theatre configuration or the number of speakers.

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is presented in Dolby Atmos (where a Dolby Atmos theatre is available). Here’s what the film’s sound team has to say about the Dolby Atmos sound mix.

Dolby Atmos and Dynamic Mixing

“Dolby Atmos is an incredible system. It is for music and sound what 3D is for visuals. For the music for Life of Pi, we were able to bring various elements separately out into the theatre: choir circling overhead, gongs on the back wall, harps running down the side walls…. In an organic way, the music envelopes the audience and better tells our story.”

—Mychael Danna, Composer

“There’s a fair amount of music in Life of Pi, but it’s definitely not wall-to-wall. There are plenty of times where it’s just Pi on a boat and he’s on his own so you feel very isolated. It’s one of the most dynamic mixes we’ve ever done.

"It ranges from just about dead silence to a huge storm with big music cues. It’s extremely dynamic, which made it a lot of fun to be able to take the audience in places that really went with the story.”

—Ronald Bartlett, Re-recording Mixer

Flight of the Fish

“Pi and Richard Parker are swarmed by a school of flying fish fleeing tuna. We hear many individual fish fly past us.”

—Tim Squyres, Film Editor

“Not many people I know have heard or experienced a large school of flying fish swarming over their boat. Immediately, it seemed like an opportunity when presented with the array of Dolby Atmos speakers.

“Eugene Gearty’s wonderful imagination came up with all the sounds of whizzing, fluttering creatures flying past and over your head into the sea and onto the boat. In Dolby Atmos, it was a blast and completely believable. While working on it, we remembered that the scene was essentially about Pi and Richard Parker fighting each other for food flying through the air. The intensity of sounds moving across all the speakers served that desperation well.

“When the scene ends, the music blossoms out into the room and over your head in what Ang Lee calls an embrace of empathy. That was a great time.”

—Douglas Hemphill, Re-recording Mixer

Storm of Sound

“As the storm begins, a wall of rain sweeps past the camera, moving dramatically from the screen to the rear of the theatre.”

—Tim Squyres, Film Editor

“During the ‘Storm of God’ that occurs toward the end of his journey, Pi comes face-to-face with both his view of God, and with his inner animal, Richard Parker. The storm’s energy, pointed out by dramatic lightning strikes, and the moving, impassioned score envelop the viewer. The sound of the moment lets the viewer experience Pi’s struggle, frustration, and ultimately, his humanity.”

—Sam Miille, Sound Effects Assistant

“As the Tsimtsum is engulfed in pounding, explosive waves, the chaos of the moment is heightened with the ferocity of the storm. The deck is a melee of panic and fear.

“Wind swirls, rain pelts from every direction, and the omnipresent creaking and groaning of the sinking ship punctuates the loss of life. As the viewer sees the final demise of this mechanical leviathan, the emotion of the moment is overwhelming as Pi fights for his own survival.”

—Sam Miille, Sound Effects Assistant