Ray Dolby’s noise reduction and surround sound technologies revolutionized filmmaking, spawning a company whose name is practically synonymous with stereo sound. The groundbreaking audio engineer died earlier today at the age of 80.
"There’s literally no way a movie of that magnitude was ever going to make it without Dolby Noise Reduction."
Many point to Star Wars as a critical inflection point in audio technology, with Dolby’s innovations proving essential to the mixing process, which sometimes needed to combine hundreds of individual tracks, each containing their own noise and hiss. Speaking to Variety, former colleague Michael Minkler said, "in 1977 when we mixed ‘Star Wars,’ there’s literally no way a movie of that magnitude was ever going to make it without Dolby Noise Reduction… If Ray Dolby’s inventions had never happened, (the mix for ‘Star Wars’) could not have happened."
Having lived with Alzheimer’s disease for the past several years, Dolby was diagnosed with acute Leukemia just two months ago, says the company he left behind. Despite his long list of achievements, Dolby maintained that he wasn’t in it for the money, saying "I just had an instinct about the right sort of things that should be done in my business."