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Please help me help a theatre manager!

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6 replies to this topic

#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Allan Petersen

Allan Petersen

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Posted January 06 2002 - 04:09 AM

Just after Christmas I saw “Fellowship of the Ring” for the second time at the local cinema. I noticed that the sound was somewhat disappointing in comparison with what I experienced at the same cinema on the opening night. At the second viewing the volume was thunderously loud (the bass was fantastic and I loved every second Posted Image )

However, there were frequent dropouts in the sound (unlike the first viewing) and several great moments were marred by this. The next day I called the manager about the sound, not to get a refund but simply to point out the problem. To my surprise she was very grateful that I took the time to notify her and we had a short chat in which I explained what I thought was wrong. She told me that she would look into it and that was it... or so I thought.

Today she called me to follow up on the problem. It seems that she had gotten a sound technician to go over the system to find out what was wrong. She had confirmed the problematic sound and yet the tech found nothing wrong. Subsequently she called the distributor and asked if the problem was widespread. It turned out that other theatres had reported problems with the sound as well.

She asked me if I knew what the problem was, but I know very little about the technical side of cinema projection. To our mutual disappointment I had no answer to this question. My guess would be bad duplication, but I really don’t know.

Still, I think that her dedication deserves an answer and what better place to ask such a question than the Home Theater Forum.

If anyone with technical know-how is reading this please help. Of course I will mention my source and you will get that warm and fuzzy feeling of having helped someone outside the confines of this great forum. Posted Image

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Chris Shelly

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Posted January 06 2002 - 04:52 AM


I am a manager/projectionist at a independent cinema. We are playing "Lord of the Rings". 2 of our auditoriums are equiped with Dolby Digital sound and JBL professional series speakers. We have not had any problems with the Dolby digital sound track but might offer some ideas what could be happening. Dolby places the digital sound track between the sprocket holes. As time goes on the digital soundtrack actually wears out. If the guide bands inside the projector are worn out this process can be greatly excelerated. Also the older Dolby Digital processors have far less error correction and the latest soundheads also have much better control on flutter. If you have worn out bands and older digital equipment you can destroy the DD soundtrack inside of a week.

Also theaters use a film cleaner/lubricant called Xecote. This stuff is great at cleaning the films but will destroy a DD soundtrack for at least a week (Don't ask how I know this). If you keep the projector clean the film gate bands replaced then you should not ever have a problem. If you cover your platters at the end of the night you should never have to use a film cleaner.


#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Allan Petersen

Allan Petersen

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Posted January 06 2002 - 05:12 AM

Thank you very much for the info, Chris. I will pass it on ASAP.



#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Sebastian_M


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Posted January 06 2002 - 05:39 AM

During my second viewing of FotR I noticed that audio dropouts occured after leaving Moria. It lasted for about twenty minutes, the only reason I didn't get up to complain was because I didn't want to miss anything in the movie. I also seemed to be the only person who noticed them, none of the people I was with could dectect them.

In Dwimordene, in Lorien
Seldom have walked the feet of Men,
Few mortal eyes have seen the light
That lies there ever, long and bright.
Galadriel! Galadriel!Clear is the water of your well;White is the star in your white hand;Unmarred, unstained is leaf and landIn Dwimordene, in LorienMore...

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Jason Whyte

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Posted January 06 2002 - 05:58 AM


In case you're still looking for information, I recommend checking out the forums at Film Tech, but Chris pretty much nailed it.


Buy National Treasure on DVD today..."The best movie I saw on Saturday night from 7pm to 9:30. The DTS track is freakin' awesome!" --Multiplex Drone

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Allan Petersen

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Posted January 06 2002 - 06:50 AM

I appreciate all your help, guys!Posted Image

Sebastian: I noticed dropouts after Moria, too. The wonderful choir as the Fellowship exits Moria was totally ruined. What a shame...Posted Image

Jason: Thanks for the link. I will check it out!



#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Derek Miner

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Posted January 06 2002 - 11:24 AM

When I threaded films on a projector with a digital sound reader, I noticed that it was possible to thread incorrectly or loosely through the digital sound reader and still run smoothly. The result was intermittent digital audio, defaulting occasionally to analog audio.

Just another possible scenario.
= Derek Miner =
Co-founder, Sunscreen Film Festival

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