Now in its 30th year, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most successful public film festivals, on par with the famed Cannes gathering.
Having spent much of its history without an official home, TIFF recently reached a long-term agreement with the city’s Ryerson University to utilize the school’s landmark theatre as the festival’s permanent home. An extensive makeover during 2004-2005 transformed the Ryerson Theatre from a live performance space into a world-class cinema hall.
To uphold the festival’s standards as a world leader in cinema presentation standards, TIFF enlisted the services of an acoustic design team including industry veterans Neil Muncy, Andy Condon and Peter Harper. Muncy, president of Neil Muncy Associates in Markham, Ontario, has been involved with the TIFF for the past 15 years, during which time several of the films he was responsible for presenting went on to win Academy Awards. Harper is a mix and recording engineer who helped to oversee the installation and documented the venue’s equipment and wiring. Condon is a computer engineer and former IT manager for a post-production house.
The Ryerson was built in the 1950s, with an interior consisting of marble, granite and other highly reflective surfaces. Muncy’s acoustical treatment scheme included a modular THX wall made of conventional materials, with the screen channel loudspeakers on a plane to focus the sound towards the audience.
The venue’s sound system includes a screen channel of three SC-443 cinema loudspeaker systems from QSC, including an MH-1075 three-way cabinet augmented by an LF-4215 dual 15-inch subwoofer. Each screen channel is tri-amplified using a DCM-3 digital cinema processor. Thirty SR-110 surround speakers complete the system, powered by four of their DCA-1644 amplifiers.
A number of other significant upgrades were performed over the summer as well, with architect Peter Smith adding new seating and additional sound treatment including baffling on the sidewalls.
Technical Director Andrei Gravelle, a 14-year veteran of the festival, reported a pronounced improvement on the cinema sound, and an overwhelming amount of unsolicited positive feedback from attendees.
With the festival hosted an increased number of world premieres, many of the featured films were shown for the first time in a large venue, literally direct from a mixing stage to Ryerson’s stage. This makes it all the more critical to reproduce the sound as it was originally intended.
This year’s debuts included musician/artist Laurie Anderson’s latest production, Hidden Inside Mountains, presented in high-definition HDCAM, as well as Water, A History of Violence, Where the Truth Lies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
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