Ruining sound in the theater on purpose, like the dots?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by BrandonL, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. BrandonL

    BrandonL Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw the ROTK midnight showing at the new (about 3-4 months old) AMC 16 Theater in Burbank, CA. Burbank is where all the movie and TV studios are, just in case this might matter.

    During the movie the audio was popping like a badly ripped mp3. This happened mostly in scenes with dialogue.

    Also the sound kept changing on the speakers. To me it seemed like the scenes were either going from Stereo to Mono, or Surround to Stereo. It was really hard to tell. This happened at least 7 times during the movie. And to me it seemed like it would happen between battles and slower scenes.

    So the battle would end with really good surround and bass. Then you hear this noise like someone is pushing an audio selector button and it switches to some horrible low quality audio. I noticed people would turn their heads and look around when the audio changed or the constant popping came up. So I know a lot of people noticed this.

    Since they are putting those annoying dots in the films now, what is to stop them from purposely messing up the audio track like this? Maybe they thought no one would notice because during the dialogue you don't hear as much surround as if you were in an action scene.

    Did this happen to anyone else? Sorry for making this so long, but after I left the theater I came to the conclusion that this might be the last movie I ever see in the theater. I am not going to pay that much money to see something so badly put together.
     
  2. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    This happened at my screening. You could mostly hear it when the music held a note for a while, you would hear it pop in and out. I just took it as something wrong with the speakers or print. This was in an Imax theatre. It really pulled me out of the movie though, as great as it was.
     
  3. BrandonL

    BrandonL Stunt Coordinator

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    whoever has had this happen want to list the city and what theater company? I am kind of curious since this happened to someone else in a completely different theater.
     
  4. StevenA

    StevenA Second Unit

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    Interesting. I experienced bad audio pops/dropouts during FOTR EE a couple of weeks ago. TTT EE was fine, though.

    Cinerama Dome, Hollywood, Dolby Digital sound (I'm seeing ROTK there at the weekend, I'll report if it happens then)
     
  5. Scotty_McW

    Scotty_McW Second Unit

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    I thought this was my imagination, but it has happened a couple of times. Most recently at Last Samurai at Carmike Oakdale 20, not sure if DTS or Dolby Digital though.
     
  6. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    I noticed several dropouts in the Dolby track @ Trilogy Tuesday in Flint, MI - on both of the EEs. I think also on ROTK, but I was so enwrapped in the movie, I can't remember.

    And don't even start me on the F@&(!!@@! dots.
     
  7. Bill Street

    Bill Street Stunt Coordinator

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    It sounds like what you were hearing were digital dropouts in the sound. The major digital sound systems (DTS, Dolby Digital, and SDDS)all use an analog backup (the soundtrack physically printed on the film) in case of errors that cause temporary loss of the digital sound. The change in sound-source can be distracting, but at least sound is not totally lost.

    I'm not sure which type of digital system you experienced, but at one time the DTS version of ROTK was going to be issued on 3 CD's which was going to require some theatres with older equipment to have to manually change out a CD during movie playback. This issue might have been corrected, however.

    Hope this helps!

    Bill S.
     
  8. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    Imax screening, Colorado Center, Denver.

    Not sure what sound format they use in that venue.
     
  9. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    The theater I'm working at test screened the print last night, and we had equipment issues, but the source material on the print seemed to be fine. Our issue was a bad amp or speaker in the center channel, but the sound never dropped out from the print, nor were there any digital artifacts - bass and surrounds were excellent throughout.

    I have noticed that if the Dolby Digital reader is misthreaded, digital sound can drop out unexpectedly, as well.
     
  10. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Poor alignment and/or operation of the equipment. Or a defective print. It's not a deliberate attempt to distort the sound.
     
  11. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Yep, this is pretty common...even at "nice" theaters unfortunately. And it happens on brand new prints as well. Poorly maintained equipment, monkeys behind the scenes (or no one) in the projection booth to ever check these kinds of problems out...

    -Dennis
     
  12. Aaron Garman

    Aaron Garman Second Unit

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    Contrary to what DTS had been saying, the DTS track for Return of the King ended up on 2 discs, thus making it compatible with the older DTS units as well as the newer ones. I've seen the film twice, both in DTS, and sound was absolutely flawless. I did not watch our third print, which is in Dolby Digital, but the guys that did mentioned no dropouts. More than likely, the problem is the bulb on the Dolby reader. After awhile, it needs to be changed if there are constant failure rates displayed on the processor. I forget the part number, but we actually just got some GE bulbs from Loewes that worked like a charm. Anyhow, this is one MAJOR gripe I have with Dolby Digital houses are these dropouts. Funny thing is, I have come upon them so often. People need to realize that cinema systems are like automobiles and need to be maintained well in order to operate correctly. An educated and well trained operator wouldn't hurt either. Best thing to do is complain to management or corporate offices. If they get enough complaints, they should get stuff done. Remember, COMMUNICATION IS ESSENTIAL. Imagine that, a speech comm major preaching about good communication. [​IMG]

    AJG
     
  13. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    I used to work as a projectionist at our local theater, and we had two Dolby Digital auditoriums. The popping sound is usually due to the tension being wrong near the digital reader. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but most of the time, it's due to the film not being threaded properly. It is pretty annoying; sorry it happens so often.
     
  14. Aaron Garman

    Aaron Garman Second Unit

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    You're right in that this really can also be avoided by threading properly. I always check the error rate when I start the trailers up. If it is way too high or failing, I stop and rethread before the feature begins. The problem is that many systems seems to be setup to play trailers in stereo and then when the last cue goes through, it flips to digital for the feature. This is how one of ours is setup, so I just manually put it into digital so I can check before the feature begins. Again, this is why I love DTS: easy to thread, and pefect sound everytime as long as the discs aren't scratched to hell.

    AJG
     
  15. Sean Laughter

    Sean Laughter Screenwriter

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    Most of the sound errors I heard (and they were more prevalent on the EE prints at the trilogy then they were on ROTK), were at reel splices.

    Also, a bit off topic, but still kind of relevant, does anyone know if the soundtracks for the EE prints were remixed or where they completely based off of the DVD audio mixes? I ask because the dialogue in those was MUCH clearer than I ever remember hearing out of the theatrical runs of FOTR or TTT (not that that's a bad thing), so I got to wondering if they just basically ported the DVD mixes over to the theatrical prints. I also wondered that because the dialogue in ROTK returned to the somewhat harder to hear dialogue mix that I've grown accostumed to from the LOTR theatrical mixes (particularly with McKellen's dialogue as Gandalf, given his already soft and mumbly delivery).
     
  16. EricWG

    EricWG Auditioning

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    I saw ROTK last night at Regal Cinemas at Va Center Commons, in Richmond, VA. I heard some nasty poping mostly when just the instrumental was playing. This happened in the early scenes with Eowyn. I didn't notice it later in the movie, but it was horrible in that scene when the LOTR theme played while the title fades in.
     
  17. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    This exact thing happened to me at the AMC 18 in Virginia Beach. The sound was really muted during the charge of the Rohirimm and really took me out of the scene. A few minutes later it kicked back in and it was awesome, then again a few minutes later it was muted again. Really took me out of the movie.
     
  18. Sean Laughter

    Sean Laughter Screenwriter

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    That's your problem, you saw it at the VA Center Commons theater [​IMG]

    Honestly though, ever since I saw the first X-Men there and the movie was out of focus the whole time and a constant, highly audible buzzing was coming out of the sound system I have never returned to that crappy theater, and yes, I got up and complained to the SAME manager twice and nothing was ever done about it. I mean, the Short Pump Regal isn't THAT far from there, and is infinitely better, and the Commonwealth 20 theater in Chesterfield, though quite a trek from the northside, is even nicer still IMO (they just didn't do the trilogy which dissapointed me).
     
  19. Claire Panke

    Claire Panke Second Unit

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    AWESOME DTS sound at AMC Greenwood in Indianapolis!

    The FOTR and TTT EEs (as well as the ROTK for Trilogy Tuesday) were in DD at Kerasotes 16.

    The theatrical versions of Fellowship and Towers I saw in theaters with DTS were remarkable, with very clear dialog, but the EE DVDs' surround sound is truly amazing. The surround sound for the EE film prints had to have been at least partially remixed - additional music, dialog and sound FX had to be incorporated for the added and re-edited scenes.

    Anybody see ROTK in SDDS???
     
  20. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    I did! Trilogy Tuesday at the Promenade Palace 12 in Tulsa, OK was in SDDS. The first reel of Fellowship was slightly scratched and the sound was a little dicey at first, mainly just too quiet. Maybe they just turned the volume up or something, because the problem quickly corrected itself, and the rest of the movie was great. TTT and ROTK sounded fantastic all the way through.

    Another thing about Dolby Digital: moving the framing knob too fast or too much can knock the tension out of whack, too, resulting in the popping or the reader failing altogether.

    It makes me shudder when something is out of frame (annoying to begin with), and the picture suddenly jumps up into frame, because that means they just yanked the framing knob into place really fast. Drives me nuts.
     

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