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Author Topic: Movie Trailer Volume
Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10973
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 09-02-2003 06:49 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If I'm not mistaken, weren't film distributors in Hollywood supposed to do something about the ridiculously excessive volume of movie trailers?

I meant to bitch about this earlier, but some other recent movie experiences have brought this to light again. Here in 2003, I don't think movie trailer volume (particularly on the optical track of all places) has ever been more loud than it is now. And it just seems to be getting louder and louder and louder. [Mad]

Did I also mention the overly loud optical tracks, with the matrix all crashed to hell, sound like SHIT? Is there any new movement to reign in this crap?

When I watched "T3" at the Carmike 8 here in Lawton, the movie trailer for "Bad Boys" was louder than anything in "T3". And the freaking trailer was in analog while "T3" played in DTS!

Just about every movie theater in the Colorado Springs area has their volumes turned down next to nothing --thanks primarily to the assholes who mix the movie trailers too loud. You hear the trailers at a normal volume. Then when the movie starts, the thing sounds like a TV set turned way down, even if the movie is playing in a 5.1 format like Dolby Digital or DTS. Last week, I watched "Seabiscut" at a glitzy, new Cinemark theater. I asked the management to turn up the volume on the show, but they never did. I suppose they feared more they would forget to turn it back down and piss off an audience with blaring commercials and trailers for the next show.

I hope the executives in Hollywood realize they are screwing over movie theater operators with this shit. Managers get frequent ass-chewings from customers if they dare leave the volume at the recommended reference levels so the movie plays well. Customers don't want to sit through 20 minutes of shitty, blaring, painful sounding analog just to get to the good sound of the feature. Many theaters take the path of least resistance and turn the sound way down. And that drives a good number of customers to watching movies only on their home theater systems where they can regulate the volume on ALL content.

I suppose there has to be newer automations out there that provide separate cues and sound settings for trailer volume and feature volume. What does something like that cost as an upgrade for an existing theater?

Oh. And here's another thing about most movie trailers. They're all pretty much the same! Most have the same big, whooshing sound effects whenever a big title streaks across the screen or zooms at your face (and probably using Trajan for the font no less). Most are all sound-and-fury signifying nothing --but at the same time show pretty much all the good parts of the movie and spoil a lot of plot points. Has Hollywood run out of ideas? Could this be why they're amping the volume up higher and higher?

Movie trailers are so badly clichéd these days that it makes it very tempting to arrive at a show 20 minutes after it started. Sure, you pay a price for arriving late. The "sweet spot" of the room is gone. You can't see your hand in front of your face since your eyes have not adjusted to the darkness. You're tripping over the feet of others who arrived on time. You hear them grumble things like "asshole" under their breath. Then when you go to sit in an empty seat, there's some old lady you didn't know was there! And she smacks you one upside the head with her cane. Movie trailers are so f**king loud and bad these days it's almost worth it to do through all that pain to avoid them!

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 09-02-2003 06:59 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
The proper solution is a CA21 automation, but few theaters care enough about their presentation to spring the money for it. I have been "exceedingly un-impressed" with the CNA-150 model automation from Strong and haven't been too interested in giving the CNA line another chance. In all fairness though, I think Strong's CNA-200 will do fader changes, but I don't know how many people actually hook up that feature or how smoothly it works. To my knowledge, those are the only two that are designed to control the fader. As such, until the trailer committee puts their foot down hard, this will continue to plague the moviegoing experience.

I still run my trailers in LCR only (no sub or surround) at an average fader setting of 4 with my features in full SRD at 7. The problem has not gone away.

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 09-03-2003 06:26 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Specific complaints about trailer sound mix levels should be directed to the Trailer Audio Standards Association (TASA). I believe it is still administered by THX:

http://www.thx.com/mod/services/tasa.html

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-03-2003 08:56 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If the theatre uses CP500 processors, there's no need to have anything other than a simple automation system that accepts a single sound cue.

At a 6-screen art house, I do essentially the same thing that Brad does: trailers run at 4.5 (Dolby SR L/C/R/S - no sub) and feature runs at 7.0 (in SRD when possible). I can't remember the last time I've heard a complaint about trailers being too loud.

At single-screen mono houses, I usually run the trailers at one fader setting lower than the feature.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 09-03-2003 12:42 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Has Hollywood run out of ideas?
There ya go, Bobby.

Frank

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: Toledo, OH USA
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted 09-03-2003 01:32 PM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I feel your pain Bobby. It drives me nuts that these trailers are so loud that we have to keep changing the fader settings for them. Problem is I'm the only one that puts the fader back to reference when the film starts. We have had the problem with Seabiscuit mostly: trailers are ridiculous , especially those !#!@ technicolor commercials, and the movie is quiet. Has anyone else heard that commercial for Universal's Chase Mastercard? Who the heck mixed that thing? Throughout the entire thing, the narrarator's voice is virtually coming out of every speaker in the theatre: that includes the surrounds. No wonder so many people complain.

AJG

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 09-03-2003 02:37 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The TASA Committee currently only certifies coming attraction trailers for volume level. There is hope that the producers of on-screen advertising will also follow the TASA guidelines and get their ad mixes certified by TASA.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 09-03-2003 02:37 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I keep forgetting about the CP500 units, Scott, but you are right. Also the CP650 can be set up to do the same. I really need to re-do that tips page for more processors.

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Charles Everett
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: New Jersey
Registered: May 2001


 - posted 09-03-2003 03:29 PM      Profile for Charles Everett   Email Charles Everett   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Regal Warrington Crossing megaplex outside Philadelphia runs arthouse and mainstream product. When I saw The Secret Lives of Dentists at Warrington Crossing on Labor Day, the booth turned the sound down for the trailers and kept it that way for the feature. The booth assumed -- correctly -- that the audience doesn't want their ears bleeding. (Trailer sequence was Mona Lisa Smile, Secondhand Lions, Veronica Guerin.)

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10973
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 09-03-2003 06:00 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm skeptical about TASA level of enforcement on movie trailer volume. I would have to say the majority of movie trailers are all using excessive levels of volume, particularly (and oddly enough) on the analog optical track.

Some of the latest trailers I found to have annoyingly loud optical tracks are "Out of Time," "The Missing," "Cold Creek Manor," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and lots of others I can't remember off the top of my head. Pretty much any trailer with zooming, whooshing titles and clichéd wind bass sound effects will likely have a bad, overly loud analog track. Again, I have to say the trailer loudness problem is very widespread and largely unaddressed.

The complaints about loudness can continue with some movie trailers played in digital surround. But the problem doesn't seem quite as bad. Perhaps one reason is there is no optical matrix to crash when playing a trailer with digital audio. You don't have that blaring, distorted effect happening. Still, trailers like the teaser for "The Last Samurai" can have more loudness and bass in digital than the movie playing. A movie trailer should not upstage the feature you paid to see.

I don't think the Carmike in my town will spend money upgrading automations to something like a CA21, at least not until they expand the Carmike 8 to a 12-plex or 14-plex. Even if/when that expansion happens, there is no guarantee the automations will get upgraded. Is there any tweaks one could do with an setup featuring a DTS-6, Dolby CP65, THX crossover and Strong X90 console?

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 09-03-2003 06:26 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Again, specific complaints about the loudness of any particular trailer mix should be sent to TASA -- they are the ones being paid to certify each mix.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 09-03-2003 06:36 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes there is Bobby, but you failed to mention the automation that theaters has, which is the most crucial element.

BTW, I'm betting the optical is not in perfect alignment at that theater. As many of us have already found out, the "dolby tone" loops are far from standardized any more. If the analog sounds louder on a CP65 with a dts (assuming the levels are set properly), then they are using a faulty loop to set their analog level with.

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Per Hauberg
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 883
From: Malling, Denmark
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 09-03-2003 06:45 PM      Profile for Per Hauberg   Author's Homepage   Email Per Hauberg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Isn't the main problem in trailer mix versus main film, that the same people for some reason are not involved in mixing both ? It seems to me (sounds to me) that the trailer mix is overseen by the company's marketing people, who are convinced, that each and every trailer must look and sound like an MTV music video - in other words: their only target group is overgeared teenagers, and not grown-up audiences who get absolutely no idea about the film advertised, when they get a cut and a new scene every second. Much too often, from my place in back of auditorium, I hear comments like "That one is definitely not for us" - which can not be the meaning of trailer-run. When, at the same time, 5, 6 and even more trailers are dictated from distributor, Bobby's words get to the headline: Cinema ? Yeah, -if we can get in 20 minutes after start and se, what we paid for and nothing more...
Think back also to the film, we all thought should bring back "The Reel Thing": 70mm - "Far & Away". The other way around, You might say, but still an example of trailer and film not being made from the same people, and thereby causing more harm than good: The trailer was truly magnificent thought and done - in 70mm - starting with the producers, talking from the center channel, and seen on a small tv screen in the middle of the picture - then working it's way out to 1,85 (still mono) - "no - this is not our picture either"
and then POW ! to full 70mm widescreen and 6 ch sound, that could wake up a dead - the whole theatre filled with great sound... --When the film came out, the surrounds were not used in a single scene, because - as the director later explained "that would only distract audiences from what he did on the screen". The trailer mix was an advertising stunt, made by the companys ad people, not the actual film crew, but the film did not deliver as promised.
This - together with the less then top picture quality, was the death of the rebirth of 70mm !

Per

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Peter Kerchinsky
Master Film Handler

Posts: 326
From: Seattle, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 09-04-2003 03:49 AM      Profile for Peter Kerchinsky   Email Peter Kerchinsky   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Brad
You say automation is the crucial element?
I don't think so. If the damn trailers weren't so damn loud we would not have to worry about different settings for our faders, right?
I've got a trailer running for ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. It runs in SR in a DTS house because there's no listing for it on our trailers disc. Man, this thing booms. No reason for that.
All we are saying is cool down the volume on the trailers and some won't have to spend the extra bucks for fader automation.
And yes, thanks to John's info I'm going to complain about that volume on that trailer and complain LOUD.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 09-04-2003 05:09 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Yup Peter, automation IS the crucial element here. The trailer task force has been around for a few years now and so far hasn't even come close to lowering the trailers to a level they need to be at. The result? You, yes YOU must take steps yourself to control the presentation at your own theater. The answer is some form of automated fader.

Of course don't let my words stop you from complaining loudly. Complain all you want. However the more the trailer brigade demands the levels be lowered, the more the trailer mixers will use compression and distortion in their tool kit to make the trailers still appear to be too loud. This is something that will never be remedied except at the theater level.

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