Are movies too loud?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Austin, Jul 10, 2002.

  1. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    This is an interesting paper on the loudness of movie soundtracks. We may soon see a reduction in the "reference level".
    http://www.dolby.com/tech/toolouds.pdf
    "Over the past few years, the subject of movies getting louder has generated increasing concern within the film production community. In addition, it has become commonplace
    for movie-goers to claim that movies are too loud. Many theaters now project films at an audio fader setting below the cablibration setting that would match that in the dubbing theater, presumably because of audience complaints."
    "The current situation is obviously unsatisfactory for audiences, theater operators, and mixers."
     
  2. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I dunno:
    a) I have had to ask for an increase in volume once (Gladiator).
    b) I did see one movie that was painfully loud (Mission Impossible II)
    Both in the same theater
    So it balances out [​IMG]
    --
    Holadem
     
  3. Derek Williams

    Derek Williams Stunt Coordinator

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    If it's too loud you're too old(back from my car audio days)
     
  4. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Generally, I find the volume levels okay at the local theater. But after calibrating my home theater I seriously doubt they use full reference volume. Seems more like -8dB or so on average. I can't stand full ref.

    Another thing that can be irritating is previews and advertisements that are recorded with all sounds near the upper limits of reference. That article may touch on this subject - I didn't read it this time, but it sounds like something I've read before.
     
  5. Dave Getson

    Dave Getson Stunt Coordinator

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    Can a movie REALLY too loud?? [​IMG]
     
  6. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Every movie I have seen in the last couple of years has been too quiet. I am moving this to the Movies area.
     
  7. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    I'm with you, Neil; every movie I've seen is usually too low! And I've seen a bunch (at a lot of different theaters, 99% THX certified at that!)

    -Dennis
     
  8. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    When I saw LOTR at the Regal Cinemas around here, I noticed that it was WAY too quiet. Nothing had the impact it had at the Senator, or Loew's for that matter.
     
  9. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    Same here. I've seen Jurassic Park 3, Spiderman, Blade 2, and Episode 2 and all of them have been pretty low and lacking in bass because sensitive people complain about the sound levels or the damn theaters are so close that the theater operators have to lower the volume. I really hate when I go see a movie especially an action or sci-fi movie that has great surround effects and loud explosions only to get some weak sounding bass-lacking presentation. I say they need to get better soundproofing in the mulitplexes and turn the volume waaaay up so I can feel it in my spine for a few days after so I know where my money went. [​IMG]
     
  10. Eric F

    Eric F Screenwriter

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    Ok folks, movie sound doesn't have to be "loud" to get proper bass/directional effects, they just need a good sound person. I'm a musician and sound-board guy, so I know, and hate it myself when I go to a local bar and the music is so damn loud you can't hear the person next to you. It's sad when you wear soundplugs rated at 32 (the scale goes from 1-30) and can still hear the music at normal levels. I have a great concern about losing my hearing, and if you've ever experienced tinnitus you know it's not a fun thing.
    I always bring earplugs to the theater just in case. I haven't had to wear them lately even at the action films, so it could be that my local multiplex has got the message. I only asked them to turn down the sound once and that was years ago at Lost World (which I probably would have been better off not hearing at all [​IMG]).
    I suspect alot of multiplex theaters make their sound extra loud just so you can't hear what's going on in the theaters next door. I know it bugs the hell out of me when the trailers are ultra-loud, but I've come to expect that so I try to show up after they start.
     
  11. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I saw Minority Report at my local crummy theater...and boy was it quiet...really, really quiet.
     
  12. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I believe that movie theaters arn't loud enough, but then the vocals and sound effects start sounding artifical with the volume too loud.

    My favorite part about the Edwards stadium theaters is that I can always see above the person in front of me and the rooms have been acoustically treated.
     
  13. Scott Dill

    Scott Dill Stunt Coordinator

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    No, but the previews sure are!
     
  14. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    When I saw Pearl Harbor in the theater, it was so loud, my ears kinda got confused in the directional part of hearing the movie. Also, what's sad, is you can hear what's going on in the screen next to you. For example, you're watching Snow Dogs on your screen in it's original aspect ratio, and you end up hearing Pearl Harbor blasting in the room next to you. Guess the insulation isn't that good between the theater rooms.
     
  15. Richard WWW

    Richard WWW Stunt Coordinator

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    It just seems kind of paradoxical to me, when you have this huge image in front of you, with explosions going off, and all you can hear is the guy behind you munching his popcorn. Personally, I'd like the sound louder for most of the movies I see.

    I lived in Lafayette IN for a year and a half though, and there was one theater that always had the sound cranked up, and I loved that!
     
  16. Andy Olivera

    Andy Olivera Screenwriter

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    This is exactly why I haven't gone to the cinema in almost two years. People in the audience too often make noise. If I can hear the people four rows in front of me talking to each other, the volume is too low. If I can hear the munching of popcorn and the unwrapping of candy, the volume is too low.
    Sound is the primary reason to see a film at the cinema. However, the only thing I miss about the cinema, is not seeing all the new releases until a year later. If you have a good sound system and a decent TV, you're not missing anything. At the cinema the sound is usually too low and the projector is always out of focus...[​IMG]
     
  17. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    I disagree with Mark's conclusion that the reference level might be lowered. The point of Dolby's white paper is that they propose a new method of sound level metering that seems to do a pretty good job of measuring perceived loudness. If the sound mixers were to use it to keep an eye on their levels, it would result in less complaints about loudness, so theaters wouldn't have to lower the volume below reference level. So reference level can stay right where it is.
     
  18. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I remember going to see The Others in a theater and having a terrible time because the movie is quiet as is, and then you factor in the volume being WAY too low. I missed so much dialogue in that viewing that watching it on dvd was almost a whole new experience.

    OTOH, I definitely know what people are talking about when they mention previews being too loud. I used to work as an usher in a place and was always embarrassed because the projectionist was too lazy to properly monitor the sound levels of the previews vs. the feature in the biggest auditorium, so when the previews started the poor audience would practically get blown through the floor by the volume until the feature began at its comparatively normal level.
     
  19. Jeff Pounds

    Jeff Pounds Second Unit

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    Interesting. This makes sense...
    I've seen Attack of the Clones three different times in the exact same auditorium, and the volume level has been different each time.
    The first time was at the midnight showing, and it was cranked up and sounded great.
    The next time was on a Sunday afternoon and it was turned way down -- to the point that you could "feel" no bass at all.
    The last time was a bit louder, but nowhere near the first viewing.
    I also just saw Minority Report this past weekend in a THX theater, and it seemed quiet.
    One of the great things about home theater is that you can play films at reference level and you don't have to worry about turning it down becuase a bunch of people complain about it... (oh wait... execpt for maybe the wife!) [​IMG]
     
  20. Eric Bass

    Eric Bass Second Unit

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    Depends on the movie. When I saw Attack of the Clones it was too loud, but then again the last 30 minutes of that are one long fight scene with a bazillion laser blasts going off. On the other hand when I saw Jurassic Park, the original, they had it insanely loud however it was completely necessary for the effect. When the T-Rex is roaring outside the car window and the kids are holding their ears and screaming...the scene works a lot better if the roar is really really loud on our end. I'd go the same with Saving Private Ryan as well, the beach invasion scene should overload the senses as that is the effect suffered by the men who were there. If you want to show the audience what it was like to be on that beach, you have to have things loud so that we just want the explosions to stop.

    On the other hand plenty of movies that don't require a high volume to convey anything tend to crank things up more than necessary just for the wow-cool effect, that I could do without.
     

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