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Toronto, ON, Canada—Nov 8, 2005
Toronto International Film Festival upgrades Ryerson Theatre’s sound
The Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF), now in its 30th year, is widely regarded as one of the world's most important film festivals, and has garnered a well-deserved reputation as the most successful public film festival in the world. The Festival has earned respect not only due to its stellar roster of content, but for its attention to detail in the presentation of its films, both visually and sonically. Hosted by several venues over its three decades, the Festival recently adopted a more permanent home at the city's landmark Ryerson Theatre, a grand historical structure built over half a century ago. In 2004, the Ryerson underwent an extensive makeover, transforming from a live performance space into a world-class cinema hall.
In order to uphold the Festival's standards as a world leader in cinema presentation standards, the organization 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 fifteen years, during which time several of the films he was responsible for presenting went on to win an Academy Award. Harper is a mix and recording engineer who helped to oversee the installation and documented the venue's equipment and wiring. Andy Condon is a computer engineer and former IT manager for a post-production house.
"The Ryerson was built in the 1950's, with an interior consisting of marble, granite, and other highly reflective surfaces," explains Muncy. "The acoustical treatment scheme included a modular THX wall made of conventional materials with the screen channel loudspeakers on a plane that focused the sound towards the audience."
The original sound system, provided by Montreal-based SF Marketing, featured QSC Audio's Digital Cinema Speaker (DCS) Series and was QSC's first complete, end-to-end cinema installation in Canada. Thirty QSC SR-110 surround sound loudspeakers were each individually wired back to a total of four QSC DCA 1644 amplifiers located in the projection booth.
This year, the original screen channel system was upgraded to include three of QSC's SC-443 Cinema Loudspeaker Systems, each comprising an MH-1075 mid-high system featuring a high output, horn loaded 10" midrange cone driver and a 3" titanium diaphragm compression driver, as well as two LF-4215s, each with dual 15" low-frequency enclosures specifically designed for the extended low-frequency requirements of cinema applications.
The QSC screen channels loudspeakers are designed to address the requirements of digital motion picture soundtracks while conforming to current theater architecture, with auditoriums getting shorter and wider. For example, the high-frequency section of the SC Series tilts its coverage pattern 10º down, placing the front row seating within the coverage pattern of the horn. The horn also offers a wider-than-usual horizontal coverage pattern to ensure all patrons can enjoy the full impact of the soundtrack. The low-frequency cabinets are heavily braced and properly tuned to reduce distortion at the high drive levels required by modern releases.
Each screen channel is tri-amplified using a QSC DCM-3 digital cinema processor for all three channels and the subwoofers. Screen channel power amplifiers - three QSC DCA 3022 and three QSC DCA 3422 - are located backstage to minimize the length of speaker level cabling. "We were happy that QSC was able to offer a complete package of products," said Muncy. "The QSC cinema boxes provide great coverage and sound fantastic."
A number of other significant upgrades were performed over the summer as well, with noted architect Peter Smith adding new seating and additional sound treatment including baffling on the sidewalls.
"The sound at last year's Festival was already excellent, but the improvements have made this year's event even more pronounced," remarked Technical Director Andrei Gravelle, a 14-year veteran of the Festival. "We've been receiving an overwhelming amount of unsolicited feedback, all of a positive nature."
Gravelle points out that, with the Festival getting an increasing number of world premieres, many of the featured films are being shown for the first time in a large venue. "Many times, these films are literally going from a mixing stage to the Festival stage, so it's that much more important to be able to reproduce the sound as it was originally intended.
"What's nice about the system is the choice of crossover points - it's very smooth and fluid. The Ryerson is a relatively large venue - over 1250 seats - and the system gives us even coverage and excellent clarity and intelligibility throughout the room."
We've just completed our second year of what we hope will be a long and successful partnership between Ryerson University and the Toronto International Film Festival Group," states Natalie Lue, Director of Theatres Operations for TIFFG. "We look forward to continuing to work with the exceptional Ryerson Theatre team to address the ever-evolving technical standards and requirements for film and live presentation." The multi-use nature of the venue presents its own set of challenges for TIFFG as well. "We install a special screen that totally obliterates the stage, so we do a complete de-install after the Festival every year," Gravelle explains. " That's what's great about this system - it's robust enough to withstand multiple installations, and consistent enough that we don't have to worry about what we're going to hear when we set it back up again."
True to its name, the Digital Cinema Speaker Series performed admirably on the digital debut of musician/artist Laurie Anderson's latest production, Hidden Inside Mountains, presented in High Definition HDCAM. Other debuts this year included 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.
"This year's Ryerson schedule was one of our busiest, with screenings starting as early as 9:00 AM and ending with a midnight screening," Gravelle concludes. "With 57 screenings in ten days and very little turnaround time between shows, we're especially grateful for the system's reliability."
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