DGA flagship theatre upgrades with Meyer Sound
Tuesday, 9 June 2020
dgatheatre2The renewal project has moved the 600-seat theatre to the forefront of cinema technology
USA - The Directors Guild of America recently completed a renovation of its flagship motion picture exhibition space at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles.
Guided by a Guild committee of six leading filmmakers, the renewal project has moved the 600-seat theatre to the forefront of cinema technology with installation of custom-built Dolby Vision laser projection and a Dolby Atmos immersive sound system encompassing more than 70 Meyer Sound cinema loudspeakers.
To translate their creative concepts into design specifics, the Guild committee engaged the noted Gensler architectural firm. In turn, Gensler assigned the critical role of AV specification and engineering to Tom Schindler, senior vice-president at the San Francisco-based Salter consulting firm.
According to Schindler, from the outset the committee had insisted on the absolute highest level of audio reproduction. “We first measured the acoustics of the room, but this element was well done with the original design. Background noise and reverberation both were well within standards. So the critical factor came down to loudspeaker selection.”
Working in consultation with Dolby engineers Jose Castellon and Gary Meissner, Schindler drafted a comprehensive performance specification with options for different loudspeaker manufacturers.
Drawing on their unique perspectives as filmmakers, the Guild committee members insisted on a live audition in order to make a final decision. “When the speaker system decision was going to be made, we decided that, no, we’re not going to decide this just on the printed specs,” recalls one committee member, director Michael Mann, in a recent DGA interview. “We wanted the systems set up for an audition. We wanted to hear how they would sound as we moved around the space.”
Meyer Sound and one other maker brought in front screen channel systems for a comparative listening session attended by Mann and another key member of the committee, director Michael Apted. Each system was tuned by manufacturer representatives for peak performance. The Dolby representatives consulted with the DGA team in selecting a broad range of licensed soundtrack excerpts to evaluate dialogue clarity, effects impact, and musicality.
“Everyone coalesced around similar impressions,” says Schindler. “On a fair chunk of content it was difficult to say one was clearly better than the other. Each system had its relative strengths, but on a greater portion of the overall content the Meyer Sound system was judged to be superior.”
Anchoring the five front screen channels of the system are five Acheron 100 loudspeakers, each paired with an Acheron LF low frequency extension loudspeaker. The main LFE channels receive potent reproduction from twelve X-800C cinema subwoofers, aided by eight 750-LFC low frequency control elements for surround bass management. Surround channels are assigned to a cohort of 22 HMS-12 and 32 HMS-15 self-powered surround loudspeakers. A GALAXY 816 network platform supplies processing for the front screen channel systems.
Integration and installation of all audio and video systems was contracted to Diversified’s Media & Entertainment group under the guidance of director of engineering Adam Salkin and project manager Eugene Tuzkov.
Other members of the DGA’s supervisory committee were directors Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, Betty Thomas and Shawn Levy. Overall guidance of the project was driven by DGA National Executive Director Russ Hollander and two executives from his team, Marcel Giacusa and Tim Webber.
In addition to Dolby Vision projection and Atmos sound, the renovation included a new 50” projection screen, upgraded Norelco film projectors, and renewed interior décor.
(Jim Evans)

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