The Audio Engineering Society is holding its 57th International Conference in Hollywood this weekend. I hadn’t originally planned to attend (the cost is over $700) but changed my mind when I was able to get an educator’s discount. The program was organized by Dr. Sean Olive and Brian McCarty is titled, “The Future of Audio Entertainment Technology: Cinema, Television, and the Internet”. It sounds like this would be right up my alley, but the papers and workshops are focused on cinema sound more than high-resolution audio. However, on Sunday the papers are focused on immersive sound, which should be more interesting for me.
I rarely drive to Hollywood…in fact, I don’t get east of the San Diego freeway very often. But after getting to the studio early to write yesterday’s post, I decided to take Santa Monica Boulevard east. The event is being held in one of the Chinese Theaters (it’s all about theater sound) so the venue makes perfect sense. Hollywood Boulevard and Highland is also the location of the Dolby Theater where American Idol is shot. I can’t say I’ve ever watched the show or been in side the theater but it has become the center of the new Hollywood.
My arrival was delayed by about 10 minutes because I couldn’t locate the entrance so I missed Brian McCarty’s opening remarks. However, I did get to hear Floyd Toole’s (a widely respected acoustician and researcher) keynote address, “Acoustics for the Theater and Home – Moving Forward on a Foundation of Common Acoustical Science”. He spoke to the many issues facing sound in movie theaters and supported his paper with numerous charts and graphs.
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you might remember I discussed the X-Curve that defines the frequency distribution in theaters (you can revisit the article by clicking here). The unfortunate situation in theaters is that they roll off the high frequencies while allowing the low frequencies (below about 500 Hz) to reach “steady state” levels. The low end builds up because of the room according to the charts that Dr. Toole displayed during his presentation.
In spite of numerous attempts to change the X Curve and deliver a more accurate and flat response during movie watching, the curve remains. The installed base of thousands of theaters isn’t likely to change the way they deliver audio to their patrons. Although, I find it interesting that digital cinema has found a home in most modern cineplexes. It’s not like it would too hard to do with the audio system that are already installed.
I’m headed back to the Dolby Theater for day 2 of the conference. There a number of sessions that sound interesting including the opening address. It’s by Dr. Robert T. Sataloff and Eelco Grimm. The title is, “Loudnss Wars at the Cinema: Noise Induced Impairment and Getting Our Dynamic Range Back”. It seems that the movie industry is suffering from the same problem as the music industry when it comes to dynamics.
This session is followed by, “Dynamics and Low Frequency Ratio in Popular Music Recordings Since 1965”.
I’ll fill you in tomorrow.