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Who Is To Blame For This - Theaters or Movie Makers? Condenser Microphones
Old 9th March 2014
  #1
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Who Is To Blame For This - Theaters or Movie Makers?

Connecticut could be 1st state to curb loud movies - StamfordAdvocate
Old 9th March 2014
  #2
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I agree that there should be a limit. Previews are obnoxiously loud IMO.
Old 9th March 2014
  #3
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Well let's explore this deeper. If you read the comments under that article, this dude named "Antifox" might be on to something. It might not always be a case of theater owners "cranking it up".
Old 13th March 2014
  #4
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This thread has not gotten a lot of attention, presumably due to how it was composed?

What I'm trying to explore if the volume issue Connecticut seeks to legislate is due to (A) Theater owners/managers turning up their own volume too loud, (B) Movies being mastered louder via tools such as compression, etc, or (C) A combination of A and B?
Old 13th March 2014
  #5
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Most theaters are calibrated before a run. It's contractual. Of course there are always screwups, and there always will be screwups in that regard. Stuff gets bumped, the tech crew doesn't understand the realities of audio or are completely unqualified, etc.. It's been happening since silent movies became "talkies". And it will continue.

But that's not where the problem lies. It lies in the hands of the Director and Producer during the dubbing process. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting on a dub stage and the director/producer asks for "more" on such and such. Then inevitably, the remix engineer turns around and explains why he can't go louder, and the director/producer stick to their guns. Who do you think wins? heh Much like the loudness wars in audio mastering, every director wants his/her movie to have more "impact". Until that changes, expect more of the same.
Old 13th March 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Most theaters are calibrated before a run. It's contractual. Of course there are always screwups, and there always will be screwups in that regard. Stuff gets bumped, the tech crew doesn't understand the realities of audio or are completely unqualified, etc.. It's been happening since silent movies became "talkies". And it will continue.

But that's not where the problem lies. It lies in the hands of the Director and Producer during the dubbing process. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting on a dub stage and the director/producer asks for "more" on such and such. Then inevitably, the remix engineer turns around and explains why he can't go louder, and the director/producer stick to their guns. Who do you think wins? heh Much like the loudness wars in audio mastering, every director wants his/her movie to have more "impact". Until that changes, expect more of the same.

So you are suggesting that a contributor to painfully loud cinema experiences is on the production side?
Old 13th March 2014
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
Well let's explore this deeper. If you read the comments under that article, this dude named "Antifox" might be on to something. It might not always be a case of theater owners "cranking it up".
No it isn't. For instance, while I love Christopher Nolan's movies, he likes a very large dynamic range. For conversation to be at a "normal" level for you to hear and understand, the action sequences are often objectionably loud. Most other directors contrast action and exposition with more layers of sound while limiting the volume increase, and use tricks like building in beats of silence to draw you in before smacking you in the forehead with a big impact sound.
Old 13th March 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
So you are suggesting that a contributor to painfully loud cinema experiences is on the production side?
I'm not suggesting it. That's just the way it is from my experience. No Theater wants to alienate their viewers with ultra loud volumes. There's no upside to loud volumes for them. The producer of a film is responsible for every aspect of a film - including often spot checking theater playback systems.
Old 14th March 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
I'm not suggesting it. That's just the way it is from my experience. No Theater wants to alienate their viewers with ultra loud volumes. There's no upside to loud volumes for them. The producer of a film is responsible for every aspect of a film - including often spot checking theater playback systems.

So then, according to that newspaper article I linked, Connecticut might be planning to legislate the wrong party.
Old 14th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
So then, according to that newspaper article I linked, Connecticut might be planning to legislate the wrong party.
Well...they can make em turn it down. That's easy. But getting movies made without impacts that are 30dB over normal dialog levels is a different matter completely. When directors & producers are asking to push stuff in a mix, it's not the whispered dialog.

If you really want the proper insight into this matter, you should have posted it in the post production sub forum. Those are the guys at fault.... Oops! I mean those are the guys forced to make things louder and louder and louder.
Old 16th March 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Well...they can make em turn it down. That's easy. But getting movies made without impacts that are 30dB over normal dialog levels is a different matter completely. When directors & producers are asking to push stuff in a mix, it's not the whispered dialog.

If you really want the proper insight into this matter, you should have posted it in the post production sub forum. Those are the guys at fault.... Oops! I mean those are the guys forced to make things louder and louder and louder.

What I meant was: The state of CT is going after theaters, which are not at fault for producing hyper-compressed loud movie tracks.


Hypothetically though, what if the theaters are using non-standard side chain to compress audio in-house? They can just bypass that chain when the suits from Dolby or THX drop in for periodic inspections.


(see what a suspicious, sceptical SOB I can be?)

Last edited by The_K_Man; 16th March 2014 at 11:48 AM.. Reason: always typing one letter for another on this frickin' i-Thingie!!
Old 18th March 2014
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
But that's not where the problem lies. It lies in the hands of the Director and Producer during the dubbing process. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting on a dub stage and the director/producer asks for "more" on such and such. Then inevitably, the remix engineer turns around and explains why he can't go louder, and the director/producer stick to their guns. Who do you think wins? heh Much like the loudness wars in audio mastering, every director wants his/her movie to have more "impact". Until that changes, expect more of the same.
Truth. Films get too loud via the director, then one person complains at a theater and the non-projectionist working there turns it down and you're usually left with the problem of not being able to hear the dialogue and the film then has NO impact because it's too low. That's the ironic reality.
Old 19th March 2014
  #13
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So the general consensus is that the loudness issue is at the production end, not at the delivery end(movie theaters, etc.). And there's absolutely no iota of a possibility that theater owners/projector operators are responsible.


Looks like my next post - or letter - is going to be to whomever in the CT state legislature is proposing this well-intended but mis-aimed bill.
Old 19th March 2014
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
So the general consensus is that the loudness issue is at the production end, not at the delivery end(movie theaters, etc.). And there's absolutely no iota of a possibility that theater owners/projector operators are responsible.


Looks like my next post - or letter - is going to be to whomever in the CT state legislature is proposing this well-intended but mis-aimed bill.
post this in the post production forum here. You will get some very good answers from people that mix the very films being shown in the theaters in CT!!

Most people don't realize Dolby has standards and specs for all this stuff. The dolby cinema player even has volume level numbers on the playback system. 7 being the "normal" level. Most cinemas these days end up turning the playback system down to 6 or 5 and it is still very loud.

Also realize that most big films are not using limiting on the film mixes. It is not similar to the music industry's mastering process. The reason why films can be so loud is because of the dynamic range built into the normal specs for films.

When you calibrate a dub stage (where films are mix) or a cinema, you are using pink noise and with everything at unity gain (or 1.228 Volts (RMS) before the amplifiers for the playback system) the SPL (sound pressure level) has to be 85dB c-weighted at the listening position (or in the middle of the room). That 85dB SPL is equal to -20dBfs in the computer.

This puts the dialog level for most films around -31dBfs.

Also, dolby employs a "dialnorm" system to help balance the average level of one film to the next when doing the dolby encoding. Look up "dialnorm" for more info.

There is a lot to this... ultimately it is the director who makes it loud and nobody else. there are things in place to help combat this already, but if a director wants it loud, there is nothing you can do.
Old 20th March 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
post this in the post production forum here. You will get some very good answers from people that mix the very films being shown in the theaters in CT!!

Most people don't realize Dolby has standards and specs for all this stuff. The dolby cinema player even has volume level numbers on the playback system. 7 being the "normal" level. Most cinemas these days end up turning the playback system down to 6 or 5 and it is still very loud.

Also realize that most big films are not using limiting on the film mixes. It is not similar to the music industry's mastering process. The reason why films can be so loud is because of the dynamic range built into the normal specs for films.

When you calibrate a dub stage (where films are mix) or a cinema, you are using pink noise and with everything at unity gain (or 1.228 Volts (RMS) before the amplifiers for the playback system) the SPL (sound pressure level) has to be 85dB c-weighted at the listening position (or in the middle of the room). That 85dB SPL is equal to -20dBfs in the computer.

This puts the dialog level for most films around -31dBfs.

Also, dolby employs a "dialnorm" system to help balance the average level of one film to the next when doing the dolby encoding. Look up "dialnorm" for more info.

There is a lot to this... ultimately it is the director who makes it loud and nobody else. there are things in place to help combat this already, but if a director wants it loud, there is nothing you can do.

Well, including from you, it seems I am getting more responses in this forum - and quality ones to boot. After all, a moderator did move it here from where it was originally posted, so they must know what they're doing.


So given the specs you stated, could it be that movies have gotten >>gasp!! << too dynamic?? I mean, in the natural order of things, a car exploding should be louder than a toilet flushing, but by how much louder?


Chances are, the film footage of the car exploding will have been taken from much further away(for obvious safety reasons) than of the toilet flushing(which might be off screen behind a bathroom door).

That distance factor must be taken into consideration to provide a realistic impression of the car explosion as seen from the distance it was filmed. Especially if effects are Foleyed in, and not produced by the explosion on screen. Do directors understand this?

In other words, if film sound pursued a dose of realism - an explosion or toilet or telephone ringing sounding on film more or less as it would in real life taking into account the acoustics of the space where they occur - not just a loud Foley, would this help alleviate some of the volume disparities in films?
Old 20th March 2014
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
if film sound pursued a dose of realism
Real life is almost always more dynamic than film. That said, MANY directors are not interested in "realism", more a huge dose of "hyper-realism" is what they're after. So yeah, the difference between a toilet flush in the next room and a car crash right in front of you is going to be 50+ dB potentially.
Old 20th March 2014
  #17
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I once complained about this and got my head chewed off in this forum.
Films have to much boomey music, films have to much music, dialog is often forgotten as being important.
I know most editors have a practice in film school where they close their eyes and focus on the music as almost 90% of the experience.
But its gotten kind of silly! Music is very important but no longer implemented correctly in the cinemas.

I do love a loud action flick and exploding heads but I like dialog more.

I dont expect these comments to make me popular, the last film I watched was bat man and it was nonsense and Iv not been back once.
Old 20th March 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay- View Post
I once complained about this and got my head chewed off in this forum.
Films have to much boomey music, films have to much music, dialog is often forgotten as being important.
I know most editors have a practice in film school where they close their eyes and focus on the music as almost 90% of the experience.
But its gotten kind of silly! Music is very important but no longer implemented correctly in the cinemas.
This is 100% opposite to my experience, and I have sat on dub stages on well over 50+ films. Dialog is always the #1. Music editors FIGHT like the dickens to keep music up as much as possible - with the possible exception of the typical hollywood "blockbuster" style films. As for film editors, they have no control of music vs. dialog other than a suggestion to the director. The director has the ultimate say, with the dubbing engineers (almost all come from an audio background, not too many with film school background) running the show. Maybe your Center channel is out of calibration....

PS - not chewing your head off. heh Just sharing my real world on the stage experience. I do agree that many films have too much music though. Seems that directors feel it will cover up the film's shortcomings. And sometimes it does, albeit at the expense of the flow of the film...
Old 20th March 2014
  #19
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I watched ET in the cinema about a year ago. The quality was fairly awful due to the film age, but the sound was too overwhelming. If I had ear plugs I would have put them in. Not sure if this is due to the age of the film, but there was no bottom end and the top end was really harsh. The music was way too loud so maybe this isn't a new thing.

The last Batman film was pretty hard for me to pay attention to. The mix of Bane's voice, the loud music and the gravel throat voice every actor seems to put on these days just ruined it IMO.
Old 20th March 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Real life is almost always more dynamic than film. That said, MANY directors are not interested in "realism", more a huge dose of "hyper-realism" is what they're after. So yeah, the difference between a toilet flush in the next room and a car crash right in front of you is going to be 50+ dB potentially.

Sorry I was vague. The exploding car might be 50-100feet away. It will still be loud, but a different kind of loud. Think proximity effect. Increasing distance increases the high-pass effect of such distance.

I've witnessed explosions in outer space in Star Trek films, in the street in Fast n Furious, and in buildings in other action films. You know what?

They all sound the same - boomy, muddy, and in your face LOUD. No thought seems to go into how different each of those explosions would sound under the differing circumstances.

A car exploding 50 feet away will sound quite different than one exploding "right in front of you" - assuming the cinematographer or camera used survived the impact.
Old 20th March 2014
  #21
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Well, like I said - HYPER-reality rules. Gunshots are a great example. Most are layered with everything from explosions to other impacts and sound NOTHING like a real gun going off. When you actually hear a real gun on a TV show or film - a REALISTIC one - it sounds like a cheezy pop gun in comparison. It's the nature of the biz.
Old 20th March 2014
  #22
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It's like couples in films who seem to order enough chinese food for 6 people in the cardboard cartons and then have sex. It's not realistic.
Old 20th March 2014
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber View Post
I watched ET in the cinema about a year ago. The quality was fairly awful due to the film age, but the sound was too overwhelming. If I had ear plugs I would have put them in. Not sure if this is due to the age of the film, but there was no bottom end and the top end was really harsh. The music was way too loud so maybe this isn't a new thing.
That might have been from the optical audio track too. I HATE having to mix for those. They are such a pain in the ass!!!
Old 20th March 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Well, like I said - HYPER-reality rules. Gunshots are a great example. Most are layered with everything from explosions to other impacts and sound NOTHING like a real gun going off. When you actually hear a real gun on a TV show or film - a REALISTIC one - it sounds like a cheezy pop gun in comparison. It's the nature of the biz.
LOL!

If only the gunshots in a film sounded like those on "Cops". But seriously, could there be a time when toilets, guns, car doors, telephones, ducks quacking are all mixed to the same volume on film?


Pray not!
Old 20th March 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
LOL!

If only the gunshots in a film sounded like those on "Cops". But seriously, could there be a time when toilets, guns, car doors, telephones, ducks quacking are all mixed to the same volume on film?


Pray not!
I doubt it. At any rate, I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.
Old 20th March 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch View Post
That might have been from the optical audio track too. I HATE having to mix for those. They are such a pain in the ass!!!
It was so bad. Terminator had a great sound mix thinking back. I think a lot of it is to do with this new gravel voice male actors put on now. Probably sounds great on set, but when mixed with all the low drones/textures/perc I can't understand anything.
Old 20th March 2014
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
Sorry I was vague. The exploding car might be 50-100feet away. It will still be loud, but a different kind of loud. Think proximity effect. Increasing distance increases the high-pass effect of such distance.

I've witnessed explosions in outer space in Star Trek films, in the street in Fast n Furious, and in buildings in other action films. You know what?

They all sound the same - boomy, muddy, and in your face LOUD. No thought seems to go into how different each of those explosions would sound under the differing circumstances.

A car exploding 50 feet away will sound quite different than one exploding "right in front of you" - assuming the cinematographer or camera used survived the impact.
Man... work on a couple films. You will see trying to "keep it real" and recreate the realism is EXTREMELY boring.

Films, even "talkies" which are mostly just dialog always try to go for an exaggeration of real life. The sound team even goes so far as to design different gun sounds for different characters, to make sure the gun sounds reflect the characters. So a weak wimpy character will have a bright, quiet gun. A big menacing character will have a deep, thick, meaty and mean sounding gun. Doesn't matter what the gun is. The mean guy could pick up a .22 cal pistol and it will still sound like a .50 cal machine gun. Why? Because it helps tell the story, which in the end is the ONLY important part. Realism doesn't help tell the story. It's boring. Almost every sound associated with each character in a film is discussed, demo'd, evaluated, redone, revised, and ultimately crafted to help tell the story of that character. From foot steps, to automobiles, to door slams to wood creaks, etc. It's all specifically crafted for that character. There are some documentaries on the sound for The Dark Knight. Watch those (some might be on youtube). They can give you a lot of insight.

Anyway...

Mixing levels. The way film dub stages are setup, it is designed so that what the director hears on the dubstage, the audience hears what the director heard on the dubstage. So if the movie is loud it is because the director is making a deliberate decision to make it loud at that spot in the film.
Old 20th March 2014
  #28
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And as a side note...

Being on the stage for days, or weeks at a time, the sound pressure level is BRUTAL. I cannot take it. You get into an "action" set of scenes, or worse an entire reel, and it's beyond painful as you are going over, and over and over it.

It's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY worse than having to endure a loud scene in a film which will be over iin 6 or 7 minutes, or worst case a half hour.

For me it's mandatory earplugs or walk out of the room, or my fav - into the soundproof phone room/booth at the back of the stage for a nap. It's difficult at best. Hearing threatening at worst.

I'm not sure how the remix engineers take it with close to 12 hour days and weeks on end.

And the stages are calibrated to match theaters. Or perhaps I should say that Theaters are supposed to be calibrated to match the Dub Stage. So there you go. Full circle. If you don't like it on the stage, you won't like it in the theater. Stage = Theater. Theater = Stage. At least in the perfect world (which doesn't exist, but it's close....)
Old 20th March 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
And as a side note...

Being on the stage for days, or weeks at a time, the sound pressure level is BRUTAL. I cannot take it. You get into an "action" set of scenes, or worse an entire reel, and it's beyond painful as you are going over, and over and over it.

It's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY worse than having to endure a loud scene in a film which will be over iin 6 or 7 minutes, or worst case a half hour.

For me it's mandatory earplugs or walk out of the room, or my fav - into the soundproof phone room/booth at the back of the stage for a nap. It's difficult at best. Hearing threatening at worst.

I'm not sure how the remix engineers take it with close to 12 hour days and weeks on end.

And the stages are calibrated to match theaters. Or perhaps I should say that Theaters are supposed to be calibrated to match the Dub Stage. So there you go. Full circle. If you don't like it on the stage, you won't like it in the theater. Stage = Theater. Theater = Stage. At least in the perfect world (which doesn't exist, but it's close....)

I get it. Now will someone please go and explain all this to Mr. Mun. E. Bhagz in his corner office at the big movie studios??
Old 21st March 2014
  #30
Not sure if you saw this or missed it. It's a sticky in the post production forum. this could be why nobody responded to you, because a lot of the information has already been covered in this and several other posts.

Standard mixing levels for movie theater, DVD, broadcast TV, commercials etc

And here is a good article about this topic.

Are Movies Getting Too Loud

Loud and louder | Film | The Guardian

Quote:
Director Paul Thomas Anderson seems to like loud. I was invited to the premiere of his film Punch Drunk Love at the Odeon Leicester Square. I didn't take earplugs because I didn't expect loud.

I thought premieres were ever so sophisticated, but no. I stuffed tissue into my ears as usual and, at question-the-director time, a woman stood up to ask whether he wanted it that loud. Yes he did, said he, rather aggressively. That was what love was like - it hits you suddenly.
Quote:
Ask Dolby, says a sound researcher. I look up the Dolby website. Even they agree that there is a problem. "The current situation is obviously unsatisfactory," writes Ioan Allen, vice-president, Dolby Laboratories. "There is a growing number of audience complaints." Recording mixers wear ear-defenders "to avoid the risk of hearing damage... [and] as a first step towards sanity, it would seem desirable that... a significant lowering of Leq (average decibel levels) would have several benefits."

Dolby recommend that sound is set at something called fader level 7. But level 7 is too loud and audiences complain. Cinemas turn it down, to between 5 and 6. Then, knowing their films will be turned down, film-makers make them even louder.

But what does fader level 7 mean? It's Dolby-speak. Sony uses its own measurement, as do countless other systems.
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