Category: Sound Quality

What Means, New SMPTE Pink Noise…and How?

SMPTE ST-2095-1 is a new standard for Pink Noise. It took a great deal of work by a great number of clever people, a lot of listening and testing and tweaking. The cool thing is that it isn’t made with a lot of transiticators, but rather, with digits. This is THE Digital Pink Noise Standard.

Pink Noise has been one of those things that has always been around, and people don’t think much about it. Flick a switch, and there it is. But it took a sophisticated circuit to do right, and it wasn’t always implemented the same…or even well. That is much less likely now because with the standard is a python script that is very easy to implement. Continue reading “What Means, New SMPTE Pink Noise…and How?”

6) Measuring – Sound

Since there are many goals and purposes for this project, there are many things that need to be done.
Fortunately, they don’t all have to be done at the same time.

So, if you don’t have the a friendly tech or projectionist to

  • download DCPs onto a USB drive and
  • load them into the Media Player/Projector system and
  • make a nice playlist,

you can still download some audio and light measuring tools, and experiment with them until you can use them easily in a dark room.  Continue reading “6) Measuring – Sound”

Audio (Basics): Part 2

Hi again.

At the very end of Audio (Basics), Part 1 we introduced the concept of Frequency when discussing waves. We also mentioned some basic information about the speakers in the room, which create the waves that we eventually hear. This article will build from there. You can skip all of this and you can still talk to a technician, but it is really simple. It just looks long because there are a lot of examples. Continue reading “Audio (Basics): Part 2”

6) So Now You Want To Measure Sound Level

Hopefully you have read through the post named Basics: Audio (Sound), Part 1 and Part 2. It is good to have a basic understanding of frequencies and speakers and surround and amplifiers and level and Loudness. Hopefully you’ve noticed some of the many ways that the human hearing system has made things “interesting” in normal life, and while you have walked around your cinema theaters since learning more about these things. Continue reading “6) So Now You Want To Measure Sound Level”

4) Basics: Audio (Sound)

Sound is all around us. We don’t need any particular talent to use it. Doctors tell us that we can hear sounds in the womb.

Using sound well is a different story. Being able to judge sound so it is the best possible for your clients is another different story.

For a simple definition, “Sound” is what we hear. But actually every sound involves hundreds of steps. These steps start with a motion that occurs at one point. You can think about it like a pebble that is thrown into a pond.
Continue reading “4) Basics: Audio (Sound)”

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