Theater projection and sound quality (3 replies and 3 comments)
I've heard that a lot of theaters are using projectors that are not properly calibrated and output a dim image. I've also heard that the sound systems in many theaters are not up to par as well. Is anything being done to address this issue?
I feel fine, we basically do not have this situation here, after all, this kind of problem will cost the cinema a lot of money.
Most of the digital projectors in cinemas are now P3 projectors, which support HDR,4K.
This year, Ang Lee's 120Fps Gemini Killer has promoted the upgrading of a large number of cinemas in China, although the price is high, but very immersed.
The upgrading and modification of cinemas are accompanied by the needs of the film.
Its sound quality is very good. I watch the film in this theatre
I cannot comment on projectors as this is out of my field of knowledge - or lack of knowledge. All I can say is that many (but hardly all) the projectors I have seen in small theatres are not adequate.
But yes, sound is a big problem in many smaller theatres in many parts of the World.
The basic problem is that people have come to expect a very immersive sound in every movie and this not only costs money (eight speaker-channels and umpteen speakers around the theatre) but also requires expertise to install. The local hi-fi buff is not going to have the resources, budget or knowledge to install a good cinema sound system. This is in no small part because a theatre has to be acoustically treated before any speaker system can go in and that is difficult and costs money.
The reality is that in smaller theatres speakers are installed and the results sound dreadful. Then some acoustic treatment is installed afterwards and that seldom works, so the sound is still dreadful.
That would be just for the old 7.1 or even just 5.1 surround sound. Now we come to the problem of 3D audio (Atmos, DTS-X and MPEG-H) that require a minimum of 12 speaker channels (the usual 7.1 system and four height channels) and a decoder. And each one is incompatible with the others.
Dolby Atmos uses encodes audio into 128 discrete positions and can feed 64 speaker channels. The others are fluid and all sounds can have any position in the theatre. Dolby is the farthest down the line in market penetration.
So far - so good, now comes the problem for theatres -
I have heard soundbars from Sennheiser and from Yamaha and they are astonishing. OK, cheap they are NOT. But they do the job when carefully calibrated - which, if you have ears, is something anyone can do. Despite being a single sound source placed at the front of the room, with proper calibration and positioning in a small room (e.g. living room) you can have a better 3D audio experience than in your local cinema with sounds coming from above and behind the listener.
Prices are coming down and soon we can expect to see Atmos-compatible soundbars that really deliver fantastic results for about $1,000.
A single soundbar does not work in a theatre, as the room is too large and very special processing is required to give the audience a good sound in a large theatre. i.e. even more expense!
And given the financial pressure that cinemas are experiencing, the very LAST thing they needed to hear was that they ought to be installing thousands and thousands of dollars or Euros worth of additional audio equipment.
That means that today a good 5.1 system and a nice big screen at home can and often does sound better and provides a nicer and more immersive experience than a poorly installed movie theatre system.
My local theater installed a Cinema LED display last year. It's a pretty impressive display to see.
This post production company did a short review of it as well:
The only problem with that is the cost - c.a. $1m if we include new sound and acoustic treatment. Over 10 years that would cost c.a. $2.2m (at usual business loan rates) or about $220,000 p.a. for a 34-foot screen - enough for a 300-person room.
The average premium 300 seat room does about $200,000 turnover (half box-office) p.a. or $2m over 10 years. In a major city centre, it can do double that, but those are the places where building and labour cost the most.
I went to the Pacific Wennetka about a month and a half ago to see A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood on the Samsung Onyx LED screen. It was magnificent, which is weird to say for that movie because the color patte is pretty beige and muted for the most part. But the screen was perfectly bright and the colors and textures so perfectly rendered. The credits were a faded yellow font on a perfectly black screen and if I didn’t know better I’d have said it looked 3D. At home, I watch movies on an LG C6 and this theater was like a 30ft wide version of that. Apparently, there’s an even wider one outside Houston and that’s the new standard size going forward. I hope in the next 10 years we see these spread because it was truly better than 90% of the digital projection I’ve seen at theaters.