Category: Audio Quality

1a) Where to Judge The Auditorium

There is no perfect answer for “Where should I be to judge the screen and sound system?”

Actually, we don’t need to be in a “perfect” place. We just need a consistent place – measure from the same place every time. Still…the question is: Where?

How High Is This Screen? when it falls on you?One group of experts will say that you should judge from so many “Screen Heights” away.

A screen height is just like it sounds, and a little difficult to evaluate exactly. In the movie theater, if a screen is 64 feet wide, then the height is 27 feet high. If your screen is half that size, it will be 32 feet wide and 13½ feet high. If the screen is smaller, for example, a little bigger than 21 feet wide – which is 1/3rd of 64 feet – it will be 9 feet high.
Continue reading “1a) Where to Judge The Auditorium”

Point 1, and Other Speaker Stuff

Most of us here on the earth realm have two ears. There may be other realms with more, but with two we can do amazing things with sound.

Knowing the location of where a sound is coming from is one cool example. You can close your eyes and you can tell whether a sound is coming from the left or right or front center or anywhere in between. In fact, you can close your eyes and point with great accuracy to the location where a sound is coming from anywhere in the space around us, even behind, above and below. The science people call all this space, left and right, above and below, in front, behind – all this is called a ‘sound field’.  Continue reading “Point 1, and Other Speaker Stuff”

Beta Test – New, Online, Managers WalkThrough Form

We are preparing the launch of an exciting new service. Out with the old paper form of the Managers WalkThrough Report Form – In with the Online Forms. Give it a try.

Use the link on the line above, or click on the “Routines” pulldown in the Menu above.  Select Managers WalkThrough Report Form on your phone or tablet or portable computer. Get settled in the auditorium that you want to check  the sound and picture. When ready, have someone start up one of the Cinema Test Tools DCPs …and click away on the online form.

If everything is cool, all stays nice and simple. But if any of the answers requires that you pass information to the tech (for example), the form magically opens up, giving you a place to tell everyone what you saw or heard.

Like the DCPs and lessons, the new Online Form Series is free. We hope you will use it for every theater every week…or more if you want. The Safety and Security Form is just about ready and the Monday CleanUp will also be released soon. Read further to learn about emailing the form and other Q&A. Continue reading “Beta Test – New, Online, Managers WalkThrough Form”

9) What’s It Mean? Distortion??

Let’s do this again. We will go through a term that everybody uses but which has a different meaning depending on who you talk to. Which meaning do we care about? The meaning that will correctly get an idea across to the Tech Team. We must describe a problem so it can solved quickly and well.

Distortion – For our purpose, distortion is the term that describes the imperfect recreation of the original sound of the motion picture. There are other definitions and uses, including the use with picture details such as ‘brightness and contrast problems’ or ‘focus problems’ or different kinds of color and screen problems. Continue reading “9) What’s It Mean? Distortion??”

5) Artistic Intent…Protecting the Dream

Let’s go back to a very basic concept – the very idea behind “Why We Care” about the quality of the picture and sound that our customers experience.

Someone had an idea for a story to tell, and somehow that story met a producer and director who found the money to be able to tell that story as a movie. That is the intention – to tell the story to a bunch of people.

How this story gets told is sometimes called Artistic Intent. Because it is the Director who is hired to carry the vision and purpose forward, often this is called the Director’s Intent.

The Director and Producer hire the Cinematographer team – the people who can cleverly make a camera capture the light reflecting off the scenes and reflecting off the actors into the lenses. Audio people and many others are hired to capture the sounds and make the scenery and perform clever stunts. They hire Post Production teams to manipulate and edit and balance the sound and pictures. After much labor, a distribution group puts the finished movie onto hard disks or satellites, or somehow gets it into the cinema facility.

In another Lesson, we explained how Engineering is the Art of Compromise. It is the same with movie creation. The Art of Compromise is everywhere. There is only so much time and money, the technology can only do so much, and eventually it has to meet a delivery date.

After all that work, there it is. Just in front of that little piece of glass called the Port Window, the final lens. The movie shines through them both, and into the room and onto the screen and through the speakers.

The Director’s Intent wasn’t to spend money for technique and tools at a clever production set or post-production room. It wasn’t to keep a lot of people employed or to make the camera sales people happy. It wasn’t to sell a lot of popcorn, even though all these things may happen and are important to a lot of people.

The Director’s Intent is to create an effect upon your mutual audience.

Which means that your job is to help create that effect. You participate in the Artistic Intent by making certain that your tools are operating at the optimum level possible.

Of course, the bubble of the Art of Compromise also surrounds the cinema sound and picture projection equipment. It surrounds the auditoriums with their screens and seats. Movies want to be shown in a perfectly dark room, but safety requires that there are exit lights and illumination on the stairs and walkways. Movies want the screen and speakers to be perfect, but speaker parts get older and less flexible every day, and screens get a little darker. How often are they changed, or adjusted? Speakers and screens (and seats and air conditioning and, and, and…) all cost money, so they get replaced when they reach some compromise level…not perfect, not horrible.

Nobody ever says, “I think I am going to present ‘Horrible’ today.” The opposite, “I think I will present ‘Perfect’ today,” is not going to happen either. Perhaps the best description might be, “Appropriate Compromise.” I’ll project the best I can with what is available.

Who decides what “Appropriate” is? Some might say, it is the big boss of the cinema who balances the requirements and dreams and ability of the audience to pay. Some might say it is the audience who is the boss, who the big boss has to respond to, but most will agree that the audience can’t define perfect or acceptable. They expect us to be the experts, to know what to look and listen for. The audience just knows what is irritating. If you’re lucky, they may know how to describe a problem.

Either way, it is your responsibility to deliver the best you can with the assets and policies that the big boss has given you. Some might say “Deliver more than you promise”. What you certainly want to do is remember – You are part of the Artistic Intent.


The purpose of all these lessons is to help you find problems before the audience finds irritation. In addition, if an audience member does find a problem, who want to know enough so when they describe it to you, that you can understand it well enough to give good information to the tech who has to repair it.

And that is our job, to give you tools and information so you can do that easily and well. Let us know what we can do for you, so when that magic day arrives when a director or cinematographer or sound editor comes up to you and says, “Thanks, that was just right”, you know that you did something to make it that way.

Now, when someone asks what your job is, what do you say?

I help create a better experience of audience members.

I am the last person in the chain that delivers the Director’s Intent.

Maybe we need a t-shirt contest for this.

Where Artistic Intent Meets Your Life in the Cinema