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Author Topic: Cinema sound levels
Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted July 08, 2013 09:39 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Seems to me that OSHA needs to start issuing citations to theatres that have excessive loudness (the majority [Frown] ). Serious hearing damage can easily happen, the way they blast out the subs on trailers and action feature films. One reason that we have a whole generation of deaf young people. I am fed up with it, which is the main reason I hardly go to the movies anymore. The sound level just ruins it for me.

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted July 08, 2013 10:28 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
i agree Paul, it smacks of propaganda, notice the volume on
your TV in the ad breaks, double the volume, I now just "mute"
the vol,but in the cinemas, as you rightly point out, control is
out of our hands, another reason why my attendence is lacking,
I've been at rock concerts, but at least they're open air, in an
enclosed space, it should be seriously monitored. It "sounds" of a
hidden agenda.

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Maurice Leakey
Film God

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From: Bristol. United Kingdom
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 - posted July 09, 2013 02:58 PM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cinema amplifiers are set up initially by engineers to recommendations of Dolby.

Projectionists (now, the Management) just set their faders to position 7, less for ads and trailers.

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Maurice

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted July 09, 2013 03:47 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My experience is that the trailers are loudest of all - just like a war zone!

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
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 - posted July 09, 2013 03:52 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The thing I see is these days they have such techical capacity that they really won't let you just enjoy the story but they have to overwhelm you with Watts and Visual effects.

There have to be explosions, they have to be loud ones, you must experience them from inside the explosion, in slow motion, in 3D.

-when the story may have done just fine without an explosion in the first place!

The last two movies we've been to I've refused the 3D just to try to limit this assault at least a little!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Thomas Murin, Jr.
Master Film Handler

Posts: 260
From: Lanoka Harbor, NJ, USA
Registered: Sep 2009


 - posted July 09, 2013 04:16 PM      Profile for Thomas Murin, Jr.   Author's Homepage   Email Thomas Murin, Jr.   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Trailers are actually recorded and mixed loud on purpose. I once read an article where a studio exec actually bragged that he got temp hearing damage during the mixing of one trailer. [Roll Eyes]

Alas, there isn't anything you can really do except wait it out.

When I was a projectionist, I was instructed to set the fader (volume) to 4 for the trailers and then to 7 for the feature.

The theater I go to sets the volume for the trailers which means that the feature volume is too low. You can't win.

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Graham Ritchie
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From: New Zealand
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 - posted July 10, 2013 08:52 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to agree Paul, the last one I went to was way to loud.

When I did projection work, the volume was controlled from the back of the theatre itself. The projectionist was required to set things from the back "in the cinema" and not from the projection room.

I used to back it off, before the session started and enter the theatre just at the beginning of the feature listen to the dialogue from the back and set it to that. The volume was set according to size and age of the audience. I did that check on every session and it worked well, never any complaints, more the opposite.

The last time we went to the cinema as I mentioned it was to loud, the thing is the sound system was middle of the road stuff "cheap" so when they cranked it up it distorted...yuk

Without sounding like blowing our own trumpet, we had good quality powerful amps, that for most part were just ticking over. However we could kick butt [Big Grin] with it when we wanted. It was quality not quantity [Smile] .....I miss it [Frown]

Graham.

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted July 10, 2013 08:55 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
The difference being Graham, you're a projectionist of the old school, where showmanship was a skill. These days, they are "Technicians", monkeys could do it, and often do.

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted July 10, 2013 09:24 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Of course its not totally the fault of the projectionist because the films themselves are usually produced with very loud sound tracks. Its as if the film makers think that the louder the sound the better the film is, or that audiences now demand and expect very loud movies. In my experience it is invariably true that the louder a movie is, the worse it is.

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Maurice Leakey
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From: Bristol. United Kingdom
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 - posted July 11, 2013 03:35 AM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was a trainee projectionist with Odeon Cinemas in 1952. We had a six-day feature run, opening at twelve noon. The circle could be reached from the back and at the end of the last row a seat had a hidden bell push installed.

On the Monday morning the Chief wrote out his sound chart, itemising the first reel of Filmlets/News/Trailers and each feature reel. At the first show he took his sandwiches and his Thermos flask and settled down to watch the complete programme. The bell push connected to a buzzer in the box, one buzz for sound up one point, two buzzes for sound down one point. The results were entered on the chart.

Of course, the cinema was fairly empty then (it held 1800) so the figures were a guide. We could see the whole of the circle from the box so it was easy to see the seats filling up. The fader was set up a couple of points as the cinema filled.

Filmlets? They were the ads from TP (Theatre Publicity) and were all silent, we played our 78 records from the non-sync. The filmlet reel never went back, old ads were removed and new ones inserted by us. Small cardboard boxes were used for their transit much the same as those used for trailers, but smaller.

Only once did we have to run our BTH amplifier at 20, the maximum, this was for a supporting short, a BP documentary called "Rig 20" about an oil well fire being controlled by Red Adair.

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Maurice

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Lee Mannering
Film God

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From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006


 - posted July 11, 2013 05:32 AM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It’s been a bit since I was last at a main stream cinema mainly as I’m not keen on the digital switch over. We went to The Plaza cinema at Stockport who still project actual film using valve amplification with excellent sound and presentation which is well worth travelling for each time we go. As for the digital local cinemas if I have to go which is rare its to see Arnie or Stallone and I can just about cope with the sound thing although the level is way to high on the adverts and trailers. I sometimes wonder if allot of the problem with modern cinema is they are basically boxes as opposed to a real cinema building with proscenium etc? Modern cinema holds little wonder for me now and personally I prefer our own FILM screenings here through the 8mm gauges up to 35mm and at least we can turn the wick down if need be.

Excellent cinema this just as it should be..
www.stockportplaza.co.uk/about-the-plaza/360-degree-tour/

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Robert Crewdson
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 - posted July 11, 2013 05:55 AM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm with you there Lee, the cinema is not what it was, with no usherettes, no one coming round with Butterkist during the break. I remember when the ABC cinema in Oxford had, I think the term is Commissionaire; he stood outside in a red coat and wore white gloves. When they were showing The Great Escape, and The Sound of Music, there was a massive queue outside, and he would lower a rope and say 'Room for 2 more inside'
I saw the bond film Live and Let Die at a cinema in Llandudno, it was like stepping back in time, a real Picture Palace, with framed photos of old stars on the wall, and before the picture started, there was the cinema organist playing a Wurlitzer.
I think the rot started in the 70s when they converted cinemas to 3 or more screens instead of one.

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Ricky Daniels
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: London & Kent UK
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted August 05, 2013 03:17 AM      Profile for Ricky Daniels   Email Ricky Daniels   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe the main threat to youngsters hearing is the use of earbuds!

Cinema sound levels can easily be addressed by confronting the cinema management and asking what their installers 'default sound level' is (usually 7 on a dolby fader as Maurice states) and what are they currently operating at, you get an odd look but it usually does the job.

[Wink]

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted August 05, 2013 04:07 AM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
In the workplace noise levels are monitored,why not cinemas,
soundtracks in the past were never at the deafening.Perhaps
a few visits from the ' elf and safety brigade might help.

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Allan Broadfield
Master Film Handler

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From: Bromley, Kent
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 - posted August 05, 2013 04:17 AM      Profile for Allan Broadfield   Author's Homepage   Email Allan Broadfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My cinema projectionist career ended in 1965, and the methods used sound wise didn't vary much between theatres. In a release house the chief would make notes about sound levels on the first house, and in the west end, where there was a little more time devoted to such details, they would separately run through the programmes for the same purpose. A sheet with settings was put next to each projector.
The other standard during a popular run was usually on the last house when the sound would be turned up a couple of notches, as a full house of patrons would absorb a lot of it, and the light output would be increased to get through the enormous clouds of cigarette smoke.
Those were the days....

[ August 05, 2013, 05:44 AM: Message edited by: Allan Broadfield ]

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Hugh Thompson Scott
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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
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 - posted August 05, 2013 07:43 AM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
That's interesting Allan, I wonder if the abnormally high levels
are to drown out the sounds of people eating their weight in
popcorn and the mobile phone mob.

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Paul Adsett
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From: USA
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 - posted August 05, 2013 08:32 AM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe the abnormally high sound levels are to compensate for today's audience which is half deaf from going to cinemas with abnormally high sound levels! [Big Grin]

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
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 - posted August 05, 2013 08:52 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
-not to mention the generation of kids with earbuds stuffed in their heads cranked so loud that other people can hear what they are listening to!

I have a friend that doesn't always hear when people are talking to him. His usual apology is "Sorry, I'm a drummer."

I think in 30 years everyone will be a "drummer"!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Robert Crewdson
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From: UK
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 - posted August 05, 2013 11:36 AM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hugh, your comments remind me of a record by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, titled 'Popcorn Sack', about not being able to hear a film due to people eating popcorn.

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted August 05, 2013 12:51 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
It's obviously more widespread than we thought Robert.

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Graham Ritchie
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From: New Zealand
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 - posted August 05, 2013 06:39 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What people tend to forget is that, its not just about going deaf there can often be long tern side effects from hearing damage.

Back in the 1990s when I was working around aircraft I was doing a start at a gate when our avionics wanted to speak to the pilot. I took my headset off to give it to him, while the engines were running. Afterwards I noticed loud noises in my head, it was "Tinnitus" and it took weeks before it backed off. Trying to sleep was very difficult.. you just cant switch it off.

Although I still have it, its a lot less than it used to be "I was lucky" these days I wont cut the grass etc without ear muffs.

Simply put, excessive exposure over time to noise can permanently damage your hearing... "Tinnitus" can indeed be nasty.

As we get older our hearing changes, we get more sensitive to the mid-high range, and that's why, when screening a film to older folk like me [Smile] its important to back it off to a comfortable level.

Graham.

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Desmond Godwin
Film Handler

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From: Ireland
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 - posted August 23, 2013 07:27 PM      Profile for Desmond Godwin   Author's Homepage   Email Desmond Godwin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In the good days gone bye when i "use to" enjoy going to the Cinema i will always remember in the late 70's when Earthquake (with Cuck heston) hit our large city centre cinema (no pun intended)My mate and i got two seats in the balcony and my curiosity was directed to two very large wardrobe type cabinets that were floor mounted at the back of the balcony. The film started and getting into the story i forgot about the 2 mystery cabinets until that is when the 1st quake scenes happened. It was at this point that not alone was the sound ear drum shattering but the whole floor of the balcony shook under our feet. There must have been 1000watts of rumble blasting out of the 2 cabinets and you could feel the speaker cones as well as almost everything else in the balcony rattle! We were all in fear of when the next quake would hit! If i remember it was presented in Sensoround. It certainly lived up to that. When the film was over i think every light bulb was shattered on the ground floor! It was great fun and a great treasured memory..

[Smile] Desmond

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