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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Fader level for Kong: Skull Island?

   
Author Topic: Fader level for Kong: Skull Island?
Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1001
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 03-16-2017 12:16 PM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What fader level is everyone using for Kong: Skull Island?

I attended a showing last night at the Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield, Wisconsin and felt like the sound was unimpressive. Bass in the UltraScreens at this location has always been lacking, but there was no impact, even during Kong's roars, which should have shaken the seats (at least I would imagine that was what the sound people were going for).

I talked to the GM afterwards and he said that he had the fader set at 5.1 and hasn't heard of any issues with the sound. I realize that every installation is different, but I thought that it might be interesting to find out what other theaters are running this title at.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8161
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 03-16-2017 01:45 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My ATMOS house, I had to use 4 being a loud print and five screen speakers going.

My other houses (CP750) varies between 5 and 5.5 due to different square footage per each house.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 03-18-2017 12:15 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You'll likely get many different answers.

Theoretically, if the DCP is normalized per DCI requirements (to -20dBFS) and the audio processor is tuned per Dolby requirements (85dB measured in the house from the stage channels when playing pink noise recorded at unity and the fader set to 7, etc.), then you should play it at 7.0 in order to give your customers the audio experience desired by the filmmakers.

BUT ... this is usually way, way too loud for most customers to tolerate. When we do studio-supervised shows and are required to play movies at this level, there are almost always customer complaints that it is too loud. I remember one such show - a documentary about Kurt Cobain - in which I went into the auditorium with a dB meter app on my phone, and measured a sustained 95-96 during one of the musical numbers. California law actually states that in a workplace, employees cannot be exposed to more than 8 minutes in every 8 hours of 93 or higher! If any of our staff members had been watching the movie, we'd have violated that law after the first half an hour. I could hear the lyrics as he screeched and spluttered his way through the numbers through the booth wall, clearly, with no monitor speakers on at all. I could feel them, too.

That's an extreme example, but for most mainstream movies, if you followed the "play it at 7" rule on a correctly tuned processor, you'd be into the 90s for a significant proportion of the show. So, of course, almost no theaters do. Depending on the film, a guess at audience preference (the house for a Jane Austen costume show will want a lower level than an action/adventure movie), the normalization of the audio track and the size of the audience, we usually play at between 5.5 and 6.5, and most often in the high 5.X range.

As an example, I played The Hateful Eight at 6.5 last night (actually, overture at 6.8 and then gently backed it off to 6.5 during the opening shots of the stagecoach, leading to the first dialogue scene), because it's mainly quiet (ish) dialogue interspersed with occasional bursts of loud noise (gunshots, mainly) that are supposed to have dramatic effect; added to which I guessed that it was an audience who would prefer it a little above the norm. I'd play most studio prints or DCPs to a half full house in that auditorium at 6.0 to 6.2.

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Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1001
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 03-18-2017 01:52 PM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd be very curious to use a sound meter in that room during the most sonically active portions of the movie. It might have been impacted by the lack of bass that has always plagued Marcus theaters I have been in (probably due to leakage problems).

Maybe in keeping with the other types of shows like "Movies with Mommies" et al, they could have shows in the vein of "Crank it up Wednesdays" or something, where the theater turns it up to the point just short of painful/distorted. Those scared by loud noises are suitably warned to stay away.

I don't have to have everything cranked up (I'm not a teenager whose car has vibrating door panels), and I have no desire to damage my hearing or hear distorted audio. But in a monster movie, I expect my hair to be blown back when the huge monster lets loose with a roar, and when his foot hits the ground, I want to feel it in my gut. Dynamic range is paramount.

Jurassic Park would have had much less impact if the T-Rex sounded like my neighbor's tabby cat...

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Martin Brooks
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 731
From: Forest Hills, NY, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 03-19-2017 06:27 PM      Profile for Martin Brooks   Author's Homepage   Email Martin Brooks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've made this comment before, but sound levels have gotten out of hand and I think directors and mixers frequently don't understand what dynamic range means. This isn't just a problem in movies, it's a problem at concerts as well. Part of the problem I think is that we have a generation of creators who never heard great sound. Levels used to be self-restricting, due to the limitations of the equipment.

Another problem is insecure directors who think that if they just make everything really loud, it will create the emotion that they think their film is lacking. But it doesn't - it just creates tedium.

Personally, I get really pissed off when I have to hold my ears or wear hearing protection during a movie. You want to have a loud explosion or bullet or door slam or machine gun momentarily, fine. But it's insane (IMO) to have a 10-15 minute section of the movie at maximum volume, beyond the threshold of pain, where the mix turns to mush and you can't understand the dialog. Any mix in which audience members stick their fingers in their ears should be considered a massive failure.

But...it's only going to get worse. They do it because they can.

I love the idea of Dolby Atmos, but most of the Dolby Atmos mixes that I've heard so far have not made good use of the capability. It's rare that I hear the overheads in use. Instead of trying to blow out the back wall of the theater, directors should make the sound immersive, as it's supposed to be in these new sound formats.

I was very disappointed when the Atmos mix of the recent Tarzan movie didn't place the sounds of the forest and the rain all around us with different sounds in different speaker locations. On the up side, I don't remember that movie being too loud, so I give them credit for that.

Back in the 70mm film days, a good mix on a good print in a good theater used to really affect me. Although my high-frequency hearing is certainly not what it was back then, a great soundtrack would actually put a smile on my face and make me sweat. And i could always tell if the sound was going to be good within ten seconds of hearing the beginning of the soundtrack. I never feel like that today. IMO, today's mixes largely lack any kind of refinement and they frequently lack presence.

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Allan Barnes
Film Handler

Posts: 70
From: GRAND BEND, ONTARIO, CANADA
Registered: Mar 2009


 - posted 03-19-2017 08:47 PM      Profile for Allan Barnes   Author's Homepage   Email Allan Barnes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would be interested to know if you noticed a marked use of surrounds during one sequence of SKULL ISLAND. A two minute conversation in the ships' cargo hole on-route to the island. Was I just me?

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1452
From: Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana USA
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted 03-19-2017 09:23 PM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin Brooks
IMO, today's mixes largely lack any kind of refinement and they frequently lack presence.
You certainly hit the nail on the head. The other part is that rooms are tuned so poorly anymore, it's hard to even know if you're hearing a good mix.

I have a feeling we are never going to get good sound again in a cinema, or at the very least, it's going to be very very rare.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 03-21-2017 01:10 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin Brooks
Another problem is insecure directors who think that if they just make everything really loud, it will create the emotion that they think their film is lacking. But it doesn't - it just creates tedium.
Amen to that. When running screenings with a director present here, I have noticed an inverse correlation between the quality of the movie and the likelihood of the director demanding that it be played at a level that will cause customer complaints. Bad script, bad acting, bad direction = demands that it be played loud.

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