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Old November 8th, 2010, 12:02 PM   #1
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stereo or 5.1 sound?

I'm trying to decide on sound encoding: stereo or 5.1 ? This is for submission to a festival. The festival has the word "international" in the name, but the shows are in rather old theaters, and I'm not sure if I can expect the latest technology.

I contacted the organizer, and he wrote 5.1 should be supported, but his answer was not straightforward, and I still have doubts. I worry that if I encode in 5.1, and only stereo is supported, the center channel and the surround will be muted, which would ruin the film!

I'm thinking maybe I should encode the dialogs splitting them into left, center and right, so in the worst case something is always heard in the left-right speakers?

The format for the submission is: dvd for the selection process and "a file" for the theater viewing. I'll probably use avchd (m2ts, 1920x1080) for the file for the theater. Bluray is not supported.

Any advice would be welcome.
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Old November 8th, 2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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Stereo or by the sound of things mono. no pun. Don't take chances if you're not going to be there to set it up. If you send something weird they may get frightened.

Old maxim from my old news boss .. when in doubt leave it out. That has saved my butt a few times over the years, go stereo.

Cheers.
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Old November 9th, 2010, 12:04 AM   #3
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thanks, what you're saying makes sense. I wish I could just go to the theater now, and play my film, and see if it works.
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Old November 16th, 2010, 08:33 PM   #4
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I must apologize beforehand, but I cannot contribute to the thread. Instead, I have a question, which is closely connected to your thread. So here it goes:

In April, I'm going to air 14 clips, about 5mins each, in front of 2000 people gathered to see this show. My question is: when editing the clips and doing the sound design, should I go towards 5.1 or just stick to stereo? I am paying the sound guys, so we can have whichever, but I am not too sure whether to do it at all. What are the advantages/disadvantages, keeping in mind that it's gonna be 2000 people in a single hall for two hours. Actually, the worst part is that it's a sports hall - a basketball court, which needs to be adapted for our purposes. The sound guys will surely have a hard time working with the conditions there, so however good they might be, it'll be far from perfect.

Thanks for your attention,

Cheers!
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Old November 16th, 2010, 11:03 PM   #5
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Definitely stereo.

Properly balanced playback in the hall.. with 2000 audience, the folk seated on the far left won't hear the right speaker properly and conversely for the folk seated on the far right.

So don't include many fx only on the left channel .. or only the right, in fact don't use any like that .. it'll be too distracting from your video.

The good news is .. 2000 bodies will help damp down the reverb in the live space but you won't hear that till the event, so have some of your people planted hard left and right to signal you to turn it up (or down) as the case maybe. If there's some way you can close any curtains on the windows do that, and anything else you can do to damp down the space. Sounds a bit weird but if it's cold weather, their heavy winter coats will also help.

Cheers.
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Last edited by Allan Black; November 17th, 2010 at 07:12 PM. Reason: I need a box of commas.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 04:57 PM   #6
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Allan,

Thank you very much for that. It does make a lot of sense. We are trying to figure out a way to split the whole hall down the middle behind our screen with a huge curtain or a ad screen, but we're having difficulties for now, cause it needs to be something like 500 sq m.

Your suggestions are very helpful, for which I thank you.

We are planning on putting multiple point source speakers around the hall and hanging up on the ceiling, but the trouble is, the sound guys are only experienced in organizing concerts etc, while we are looking for more of a theater experience. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers, and thank you one more time!
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Old December 6th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #7
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I have been to a lot of festivals over the years, but not once have I been to a DIGITAL screening where there was 5.1 surround sound. The only time I've ever been to a festival film with surround sound is when the film is shown on 35mm. The main issue is that there is no easy way to output 5.1 for a festival unless the final films are submitted on DVD. Getting a 5.1 mix onto tape (HDCAM, Digibeta, SP, DVCAM, etc.) is possible - but not trivial. My suggestion would be, if you're submitting your film to a festival digitally, submit it in stereo.
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