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This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Sound Design Consultants
Nicholas Suchyta
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Washington, DC
Registered: Nov 2003


 - posted 12-23-2003 02:43 AM      Profile for Nicholas Suchyta   Email Nicholas Suchyta   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Does anyone know of any good sound consultants in Michigan? We've got a single screen historic and I'd really like to have someone consult us that has experience with theatre sound, compared to just stadium or church systems. If anyone knows of someone it would be a huge help.

Thanks

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Michael Schaffer
"Where is the
Boardwalk Hotel?"

Posts: 4143
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Apr 2002


 - posted 12-23-2003 03:05 AM      Profile for Michael Schaffer   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Schaffer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You can also read up yourself a little. There is some good literature on http://www.jblpro.com/pages/tech_lib.htm
Make sure to scroll down, there is also a cinema section.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-23-2003 06:39 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When you're researching companies & getting their sales push, a number will be touting how many historic theatres (or churches, or regular theatres) they've done.

The question is always "how many have they done well.

There have been a lot of auditoriums messed up for extremely high cost, usually making fixing the problems economically impossible.

It's also hard to check on companies just by calling the theatres where they've done work to ask about the result. VERY often management will refuse to say there's ANYTHING wrong with the theater, or admit they've boned up spectacularly. You have to sort of go to 2nd-level critiques.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16277
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-23-2003 12:58 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with William, especially if you're going to do something really big. Its actually best to go hear a couple of the touted locations first and talk to those people. You don't want to be left wondering if you do or do not have digital sound like Manny's customer.

Also, do not forget the acoustics aspect of what you are doing. Good acoustics is far more important then the actual sound system. If you have poor acoustics a great sound system will still sound poor!
Mark @ CLACO

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12316
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 12-23-2003 03:15 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One clue as to how well the job was done is to see if the contractor is still doing business with the theatre. People tend to dump the bad ones (but not always).

Now if you were to move your theatre to the Mid-Atlantic region...I'd be happy to help you out! [Wink]

Steve

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 12-23-2003 05:10 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve --

You're in the middle of the Atlantic!?

You should come help me out. [Wink]

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16277
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-23-2003 06:00 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yea, [steve] 's a really good swimmer....He's been at it for years too. He pulls his test equipment around on a big raft...does service on the liners theatres as they pass by [Wink] .
Mark

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9472
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-23-2003 08:20 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Manny I doubt you really need any help

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Nicholas Suchyta
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Washington, DC
Registered: Nov 2003


 - posted 12-23-2003 11:57 PM      Profile for Nicholas Suchyta   Email Nicholas Suchyta   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Our "Architect" wants us to use a sound counsulting firm that has done several churches and along with some large items such as the Palace of Auburn Hills. We have a very talented sound professional that handles all of our live events, plus he works with me with our existing movie sound. I give as much information that i can, but the board still wants to hear from a. Thanks for your info everyone. I wont let us end up like Manny's customer.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-24-2003 01:30 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Our "Architect" wants us to use a sound counsulting firm that has done several churches
I don't know this guy, but by the great majority, the companies that have mostly done churches tend to make a mess of historic theatres. If you look at the churches with lots of sound reinforcement, they've usually blown off esthetics when installing the tech-y sound stuff in the sanctuary/auditorium/whatever to the point that it becomes like a gym with PA stuff & religious stuff in it. Speaker clusters hanging wherever the lack of imagination/consideration/work/taste of the sound guys will hang them, wires & cables all over, masses & slabs of black equipment in ornate rooms, etc. The intended effect that the room was supposed to have on the people in it is lost, as it becomes junky. People try not to look at the things which ruin it, try not to look at anything.

In theatres, they'll do the same thing. A huge black, naked speaker cluster permanently hung in the space above the prosc where the valance curtain is supposed to go, making an ugly space there that wrecks the focal point of the room. Little speakers on stalks sprouting from an ornate or streamlined ceiling, making people look away from there. Blank columns set up in front of a partially-visible ornate proscenium. The overall effect is no longer attractive, but junky, like a garage or somebody's bedroom with wires & video & computer crap everywhere.

Some companies are aware of the fact that the decoration of the interior of the theater is in fact functional. Speaker clusters over the prosc that are decorated to look decorative features, or on chain motors so that they can be put up for rock'n'roll shows & taken down for the symphony. Lights & speakers on the box booms concealed by 'downstage' panels integrated into the house decoration, speakers in walls or soffits behind panels or otherwise integrated into the decoration.

Church installs usually follow a path along the lines of referral from another church or advertising, bid costs, then decisions by non-technical committees that aren't aware of how the gears of the room go together or just can't tell or care & say "this looks OK to me".

Folks in theaters have to remember they're in show business, & they are trying to attract people, & make them desire to come back. Marcus Loew said "I sell tickets to theaters, not movies". That was absolutely business. His theaters' decoration schemes were more ornate, but even as they became more streamlined, the point remained. The decoration is functional, & if it stops being attractive or becomes distressing or visually repellent, it stops working.

It's hard to tell some folks who work in the theaters who just see them as big holes with seats about how the decoration is functional. The analogy is flowers in plant life: their function is simply to be attractive. It's one of the essential, undispensable functions; that's how they survive & propagate. The function of attractiveness in flowers & theaters is seduction.

The short message is to just tell them they're selling sex. If it even starts looking skanky, you lose customers.

If the contractor for audio, plumbing, whatever proposes something which will wreck the operation of some other system, the decoration system included, then says, "nobody notices that", or "that don't matter", or "there's no other way to do it", you find someone else. A theatre is a machine. You see how the machine works. They may be unaware or (usually) unconcerned.

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Nicholas Suchyta
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Washington, DC
Registered: Nov 2003


 - posted 12-24-2003 02:50 AM      Profile for Nicholas Suchyta   Email Nicholas Suchyta   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here is a picture of how the interior looked in 1930.

 -

This is the look we are going back to. The 4 openings in the proscenium are abandoned HVAC ducts, and this is where part of the sound system is supposedly planned to go. They want to install 2 systems, one for the movie aspect and one for the live aspect. We have agreed that there will be NO visible speakers; at least at the front of the house, for surround, we will have to make exceptions.

I agree that sound quality is of utmost importance. Making sure that the system doesn’t make a visual mess of the theatre, but also has excellent sound quality. Our board is not technical savvy, so it’s hard to make them understand that just because someone has done several businesses, it does not mean that they are the best option.

William, I will bring up your idea of selling sex before our next meeting, I know that our board will understand that.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-24-2003 04:56 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wooo, that's seductive.

quote:
The 4 openings in the proscenium are abandoned HVAC ducts, and this is where part of the sound system is supposedly planned to go.
Excellent. You are very lucky to have those in that position. Focused arrays for the orchestra & balcony.

quote:
They want to install 2 systems, one for the movie aspect and one for the live aspect
Generally the live system is mono; an array with the main component above the prosc focused to make the sound seem to come from the stage. I've heard some well-focused systems that sounded pretty good for mono film. The film system (& you say there'll be surrounds, so you're looking at more than a mono cinema sound system) will require 3 speakers behind the screen: Left, center, & right. That spec & installation will really need to be done with a cinema tech.

The bugbear with screen speakers in a PAC is what to do with the things when *not* running a movie. Randy Stankey is in a similar venue with a pretty usual solution: the speakers are on wheels (trucks, dollies, speaker wagons) to get them on & off. But getting them *really* off is usually the big problem. Unless there's good, easy storage space right offstage, it's neccessary to do thought on system design. The important thing is to realize what a heavy premium is on space on the stage, that stagehands can be reckless gorillas, damage can easily come to things that folks are batting around & trying to get around, etc. The most important thing in operational design to always keep in mind is people are lazy. Work from that for the best results. The stage folks may not give a whit about the movie stuff, & in some cases may be hostile to it. And when they're working, they're tired, in a hurry, & under the gun.

Getting the stuff off has always been a problem. The best solution was the Movietone Lift in the Fox houses. Speakers were on a lift onstage, press a button, they go down & the tops of the cabinets become part of the stage floor. That's too much engineering to do for most PAC's, so just having a route & place to take them between shows is usually the big step. If you've got a trap with a lift onstage, you're in gold. Next best is if you've got storage right outside the loading door. Next after that is if you've got a pit lift you can roll them out on & store them under the stage. Whatever, those cabinets need to be made protected & collision-ready.

quote:
We have agreed that there will be NO visible speakers; at least at the front of the house, for surround, we will have to make exceptions
WHAT? WHAT? TURN IN YOUR PLIERS & DUCT TAPE! YOU'RE NOT ONE OF THE SCREWDRIVER BOYS! You can always jack this mother up, whatever it is! Two showbiz mottoes which are for all time are: "Great ideas are not born; they are stolen!" and "If you can't make it work, turn it into a bit."

That Egyptian type-scheme is working on your side, since its components are monolithic, umm, chunky. Instead of just hanging the surrounds on the walls, you should integrate them into the decoration. Some Egyptian-type schemes had all the ornament down front, leaving the side walls slab-like. My suggestion would be to get with the set builders/designers at some local community theatre group, & come up with some enclosures to hang on the walls to masquerade as decoration & conceal the speakers behind acoustically transparent cloth (cheap) or decorative grillework (that's what the front of your pipe chambers are doing). Make them scarabs, scrolls, protrusions of masonry with censers & hieroglyphics, or little arks of the covenant, or whatever. Those guys work with available material, come up with successful, integrated results for given existing designs, understand that your auditorium works like a set, & will be the easiest, cheapest, & most fun part of the install.

Usually PAC's taking over a movie theater want more house lighting; I'd say stick some concealed lights on the top, around the edges, the bottom, whatever works for what you come up with, & make them combo sconces. Anything is better than that footlockers hanging on the walls look of surround speakers in a decorative auditorium. Research some sconces & ornament in Egyptian theaters, steal, & adapt. Or just leave it to the set construction guys; they're bound to come up with something functional & cool.

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Adam Fraser
Master Film Handler

Posts: 498
From: Houghton Lake, MI, USA
Registered: Dec 2001


 - posted 12-24-2003 11:35 AM      Profile for Adam Fraser   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Fraser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Our tech is Audio Imaging Specialists, I think they are out of Sterling Heights. The tech's name is Ken Angst. I dont personally know him since our business partner is the one there during tech visits but they have, in my opinion, done a very good job with our historic theatre in Houghton Lake built in 1941. His company has serviced us and done upgrades for at least 10-15 years.

The surrounds could have been hidden better, but as a first run I think we want people to see that we have the speakers to do the job.

www.pinestheater.com

[ 12-24-2003, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: Adam Fraser ]

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16277
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-24-2003 03:36 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Our "Architect" wants us to use a sound counsulting firm that has done several churches and along with some large items such as the Palace of Auburn Hills."
_________________________________________________________________

First off I hope your architect is ONLY a restoration architect. There are regular architects and those that only deal with PROPER restoration and the extremely specialized techniques involved. I've never met and acrhitect that can deal with both. Restoration in itself is a whole other field and is way to specialized in and of itself. Your beautiful theatre deserves the same treatment the Egyptian got. You also still need to use someone that generally does cinema acoustics weather its a new or old location. An acoustician that has done more cinema type work will know cinema equipment, its requirements and such. He would also work better with a restoration type architect and together they would come up with some sort of treatent that would "fit in" to the type of theatre it is. I worked on the Boise Egyptian with a restoration architect and the experience was absolutley amazing. The results wrere beyond belief to say the least!! I've attached a couple of photos taken during the rehab there.

You ought to see the outside of this place..... Its amazing!

Mark @ CLACO

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Bill Enos
Film God

Posts: 2081
From: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Registered: Apr 2000


 - posted 12-24-2003 04:08 PM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sound designs done in two historic theatres in this area now doing live performance ( Carpenter Center, formerly Loew's and the Mosque) both sound as bad as they look and look as bad as they sound. The engineers obviously blind and deaf.

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