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How the shape of your movie theater affects clarity of sound, and other notes from CinemaCon

The technology behind movie projection and sound is much more complicated than you think

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Image credit: Fox Searchlight

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What's the perfect shape for a movie theater? Not a rectangle, apparently. At least, not from a sound perspective, according to Mark Mayfield, the vice president of the International Cinema Technology (or ICTA). At a presentation from the ICTA titled the Fundamentals of Presentation Technology presented at movie industry conference CinemaCon, Mayfield discussed all that goes into making sound happen in a movie theater.

A couple interesting tidbits that might be of interest to movie goers who are interested in finding the perfect acoustics have to do with the main factors that affect room acoustics, according to Mayfield: the room size and shape, the acoustical treatment, and surfaces and furnishing.

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Because sound literally bounces off of surfaces, having too many hard surfaces (like walls, floor, or even furniture) can lead to distorted sound from reverberation and echoes. How theaters combat this distortion is through having softer surfaces like carpeting. Another interesting way to make sure you're getting clear sound is to change the shape of the room.

Two sets of parallel walls are not ideal for keeping sound from reverberating or echoing too much. Instead, having even one wall at an angle to create a rhombus shape can be a big deal for sound clarity. Of course, setting even a single wall at a strange angle is quite costly to construct, which is why your local theater is probably (and probably will continue to be) rectangle-shaped instead.

Popverse is at CinemaCon all week. Keep an eye out for our continuing coverage.

Keep track of everything that's happened at CinemaCon 2024 right here at Popverse.

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