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What do I do with a stack of commercial grade theater DTS disks?

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10 replies to this topic

#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Chris Knox

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Posted July 01 2004 - 07:35 PM

My younger brother works in the local movie theater at our mall. He saw the manager tossing a stack of DTS disks (the ones that acompany the film canisters when the movies come in). When my brother asked him why he was throwing them away, he said, "because they were garbage. DTS disks are the REGULAR surround disks and we use the highly superior Dolby Digital in our theater." He thought they were like standard surround or something. So they have a DTS projector/disc player setup but only run Dolby Digital films on it. My brother snatched them out of the trash can and brought them to me. now, I obviously know that these aren't going to work on my DTS HOME theater, so what can I do with them? I have 11 of all the latest film soundtracks here! I guess I can toss them just like the manager of the theater did... Chris
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#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Ricardo C

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Posted July 01 2004 - 08:05 PM

Maybe you could try a few of the film collector forums out there.
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#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted July 02 2004 - 03:33 AM

What do the discs look like physically? Are they some kind of CD media or something entirely different with unique dimensions etc.?

If they look like standard CDs, maybe it is possible to try to read the data using a computer. Maybe the file format is something exotic that is not recognized by a CD or DVD drive, but perhaps a tool is available on the Web to assist in the challenge?

Hacking the discs sounds like a nice weekend project. Yes, I'm a nerd. Posted Image

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted July 02 2004 - 04:25 AM

Put them on eBay Posted Image

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted July 02 2004 - 05:44 AM

The discs are studio property and belong with the prints of the films they were removed from. They are shipped automatically with the prints, even if the theatre doesn't use them. By removing them from the print, the manager is, in effect, stealing them from the distributor.

Please tell your brother to tell the theatre manager to leave the discs in the film cans (in the future) if he doesn't need to use them and return them with the prints to the film shipping depot. That way the next theatre - one that may use DTS - can play the film properly. And tell the manager that theatrical DTS tends to sound better than theatrical Dolby Digital and they should upgrade to the superior format Posted Image .

They are CD-ROMS with files that are to be decoded by a DTS Cinema Processor.
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#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted July 02 2004 - 05:52 AM

Thanks for the clarification, Peter.

Naturally the discs should be returned with the film cans if this is the usual procedure. Regardless, I'd love an opportunity to examine such discs just to see what the contents are like. What is the equipment like at the movie theatre projection room? A laptop next to the projector? Posted Image

Ah, I see in the "Cinema Basics" section at the DTS web site that the time code to sync the sound with the picture is actually on the film rather than on the CD. I wonder if there's any software out there that could make sense of the "raw" data on the CD-ROM discs.

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted July 02 2004 - 07:03 AM

they need to go back to the studio Posted Image

and you're right, they're standard PC cdroms that can be read in your PC, but you'll probably need the DTS hardware to get it to play, I don't know if you could fake the time signal or not. And even if you could I'm sure there is some ssecurity built into the files. The DTS "machine" is just a PC with 2 or 3 CDROM drives that takes the signal from the timecode reader via serial cable and plays the tracks to the audio panel, if there wasn't some proprietary encryption or security knock-off DTS units would be available for sale, as they're quite expensive from DTS.

One time we got 2 prints of a big film, and only one came with DTS discs so I copied them on my PC Posted Image
I haggled a trade with the manager, copy the discs in exchange for a nifty DTS poster the theater got.

This seperates DTS from SDDS and DD, both of these formats encode the sound track data on the print, either between the sprocket holes (dd) or along the edge (SDDS) The time code marks for DTS look somewhat like morse code along the edge of the optical sound track. The reader in the theater I projected in sat above the projector and is just a red LED that shines through the mark. My biggest complaint about DTS is that it will sometimes drop out when it looses sync, SDDS has 2 tracks and I'm told can run wild or switch back in forth, but I've never worked in an SDDS house, nor dolby digital for that matter... Also the older units use old SCSI CDROMS that seem to fail quite regularly. Some of ours were even old enough to require CD caddys!

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted July 02 2004 - 10:04 AM

The discs should stay with the prints, definitely not be put in the garbage. Nothing a theater manager would do these days surprises me though. Having worked with both I find Dolby Digital MUCH preferable to DTS however, mostly because it saves you from idiots like that who throw the discs out and you get their print later, but I've also gotten brand-new prints that came without discs. When the movie "Contact" had a sneak the week before it opened, the DTS discs weren't even finished yet! The theater it showed in only had DTS so we had to play it in analog, but the Dolby Digital tracks were right there on the film so it would have been a non-issue.
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#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted July 02 2004 - 01:32 PM

I just think DD sounds better. I prefer DTS on DVD's but in a theater I much prefer DD

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Jeff B.

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Posted July 02 2004 - 02:26 PM

I've never really had the opportunity to hear the same movie in both DD and DTS in an actual theater. In my own home theater I find DTS seems to be louder, and more detailed sometimes in the same movie. Whether or not this is true, I don't know. :b For those of you who have heard both DD and DTS in the same theater, what was better, worse or different about the experience?

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted July 02 2004 - 02:48 PM

You probably have, and didn't know it. CHances are you've heard trailers that are in DD while the feature might have been in DTS. Though, I've never seen a print with a DTS track that wasn't DD as well, so I guess most houses would just run the DD track

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