Behind the scenes of Silent

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In 2013, we partnered with Moonbot Studios to honor Dolby's passions: advancing tools and making them accessible to filmmakers as well as providing audiences with profound audiovisual experiences.

We wanted to celebrate that magical relationship between motion picture and sound, and so we set out to create a story that would honor the filmmakers and artists of today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

To create the story we partnered with Moonbot Studios. Their tech-savvy, energetic spirit has led them to create compelling, award-winning tales like The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011) made them an obvious choice. Morris, the protagonist, is actually modeled after Buster Keaton, a character perfectly suited to our vision. We worked with Moonbot to send Morris on another adventure, one that would represent Dolby's story, in both picture and sound.

Since Morris is inspired by one of cinema’s greatest early film actors, we decided that he would represent Cinema. Dolby had its start in sound, so we needed to develop a character to represent Dolby and the importance of sound. 

It’s difficult to nail down a visual character meant to portray a corporate identity. But by starting with the basic values of innovation and pursuing wonder, we narrowed in on the form of the Kid. Rough around the edges, the Kid is imaginative, curious, persevering, and always learning. Not afraid to get her hands dirty and tinker with new tools, the Kid has a persona that techies and creatives alike can relate to.

The Kid plays off Morris's traits well, moving the the pair forward with her curiosity, even when Morris is timid and cautious. The dynamic between the man and the little girl, both endeavoring to create art for the sake of art, is essential to the flow of the film, and it speaks to the ageless and timeless struggle of pursuing an artistic path.

The pair had to work visually, both together and with their environments. So the development of Silent began with style boards of the most important story elements: street performers, early film actors, movie-theatre organs, and theatre interiors and exteriors. From these inspirations, iterations of storyboards with a classic cartooning style went to review. This type of animation style harked back to the early film era, which we wanted to honor.

The storyboards then led to the development of scratch tracks and demo sounds: takes of the tale's sound development. Our goal was to tell a story driven by equal parts visual and audio, these scratch tracks were key to the first animatics: digitally sequenced storyboards with audio to establish action timing. Here's a look at one of the final animatics.

Since our partnership with Moonbot Studios celebrated the emotional power of audio in film and cinema's greatest audiovisual moments, it was essential to bring an amazing sound designer on board. There was no better person to work with than Steve Boedekker, a sound designer and sound editor who has been nominated for an Academy Award®. Jürgen Scharpf, a Dolby A/V mixer, also joined the team as Silent's sound rerecording mixer.

We are thrilled to have been able to tell our story with some of the best storytellers in the industry. Silent embodies our ideals for supporting the art, science, and technology of storytelling. And it evokes the value of pursuing curiosity, whether you come from an artistic or scientific background.

Take a seat, put on your headphones, and enjoy Silent.