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SMPTE Creates Cinema Sound Tech Committee

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. —The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers has formed a new technology committee dedicated to cinema sound. TC-25CSS will update SMPTE standards and recommended practices for this specialty.

“Existing SMPTE standards and recommended practices help to minimize variations, but cinema sound quality today is highly dependent on the skill, talent, training and hearing acuity of the adjusting technician,” said Brian Vessa, executive director of digital audio mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment and chair of the new SMPTE committee. “TC-25CSS, the first SMPTE technology committee dedicated solely to cinema sound, will explore and standardize new sound measurement techniques with the goal of consistency in sound reproduction between the mixing stage and diverse cinema spaces.”

TC-25CSS was formed after the Theater B-Chain Study Group conducted tests of current test equipment and methods, as well as measured reference and commercial theaters. The committee now has 130 members, representing over 90 companies and academic institutions from 14 countries.

TC-25CSS will correlate human sound perception with the science of sound reproduction and measurements as the underlying principle. The committee is currently developing a recommended practice for measurement and calibration of B-chain sound systems, a standard pink noise test signal, a final report on data and findings from the Theater B-Chain Study Group, and two new study groups are examining immersive audio systems and new electroacoustic measurement methods and target curves.

“Over the past three decades, we’ve seen huge changes in audio technology, and our hope is that, through the work of the new SMPTE technology committee and its subcommittees, the tools used to measure audio signals will be brought into tune with today’s technology,” said Mark F. Collins, director of projection technology for Marcus Theatres. “With signal-testing tools that support very consistent audio quality throughout the industry, cinema owners can provide very good presentations and assure movie creators that what’s being reproduced in the field is consistent with the studio mix.”

Vessa will discuss current SMPTE standards, the new committee and the impact of new and emerging immersive cinema sound systems on the standards-creation process during the free SMPTE webcast “Cinema Sound Systems — Raising the Bar Through New Standards,” scheduled for March 12. Register online.