AES Forms Technical Committee on Sound for Digital Cinema, Television

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The Audio Engineering Society has formed a provisional committee to review audio reproduction for digital cinema and television. Spearheaded by Brian McCarty, managing director of Coral Sea Studios in Australia, the new AES Technical Committee on Sound for Digital Cinema & Television (AESTC-SDCTV) is planning to meet in Los Angeles in early 2012.

“Our mission is to identify a consistent approach to controlling perceived loudness and frequency response from installation to installation, and from position to position within digital cinema installations worldwide,” McCarty says, “and for this to be adopted as the formal reference for all contemporary dubbing stage recording and mixing activities, and ultimately as the unified method for film reproduction at home.”

Originally addressed at AES Technical Committee meetings in London in 2010, the initiative was inspired by the AES historical involvement in film sound. The lack of electroacoustical response reference data for digital cinema systems was underscored by Dr. Floyd Toole’s statement: “It seems that no real science has been done in terms of digital cinema sound.” Dr. Toole, Vice Chair of the committee, is developing a half-day seminar on these issues to be held in L.A. in March that will serve as the first meeting of the committee.

McCarty underscores the point that acousticians, engineers and systems installers around the globe have expressed the need for a working standard.

“In simple terms, what is recorded digitally in the studio does not sound the same at the theatrical end,” McCarty says. “As an art form our goal should be consistency of sound quality. Acoustical design of theaters is typically incorrect for sound reproduction in large rooms. Current soundtrack EQ reproduction curves are inconsistent with large-room audio practice and with the rest of the audio industry. And loudspeaker technology typically used in theaters has yet to be optimized for proper playback of wide bandwidth soundtracks. Basically the current digital cinema audio system is simply not the best we can do. The AES is committed to improving this situation.”

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