Let’s consider the art of the demo [Part II: Movies!]

Whether you’re an AV pro performing demos for your clients or you’re a proud homeowner who’d like to show off your system to a friend, the following should be of value to you.

(This is, by the way, part two of our three part series on demo tips. If you’re at InfoComm, please visit us at booth #N2519.)

A brief overview:

  1. People pursuing a demo typically want to experiences three things during a home theater demo;
  2. a. Enough bass to make their pants legs flap in the breeze
    b. Lots of high volume, especially with oodles of explosions, crashes, bangs, booms, thuds, etc.
    c. Hearing and being aware of the surround speakers all the time
  3. If and only if you think your client is open to learning what really makes for exceptional home theater you can try explaining that:
    a. There should only be leg flapping bass during extreme bass passages (a recent example is several scenes in “Interstellar” because they specifically pumped up the LFE to higher than normal levels for dramatic impact)
    b. Crashes, explosions, etc. are all good fun. But they often accompany potentially disturbing violence, blood and gore. Reminder: Families aren’t into this.
    c. The majority of what comes out of the surround speakers is secondary to the action taking place on the screen. Therefore it’s typically background/environmental sounds and not “front and center” like what comes out of the three L/C/R channels. In most cases, you shouldn’t even be aware of the surround channels until they are shut off.

So what makes for a good surround sound demo source?

  1. Pick a scene that’s no longer than 5 – 6 minutes
  2. Choose a scene that tells a complete story with a beginning a middle and an end
  3. If the scene ends with a laugh or an “emotional tug” (think puppies) it will help substantially
  4. There should be lots of clear, well defined dialogue
  5. Any bass events should be clearly recorded and impactful (think the Tyrannosaurus footfalls in the first Jurassic Park)
  6. Choose a scene with substantial surround content (because even though you’ve explained the surround channels as above, they’re still gonna want to hear them all the time anyway)
  7. Clear, colorful video. An excellent example are many of the animated Pixar feature films. They’re just about idea in every respect, including superb video and sound quality while remaining inoffensive and often fun
  8. Choose both a movie scene and a concert “cut”. Try to determine the client’s musical choice or at least their generation for the music selection. Of course, that means you need to have a reasonable selection of well recorded concert cuts available to choose from
  9. Every demo seems to have a volume level that’s “just right” for demo playback. Not too soft nor too loud. Determine those levels before the demo and set them during your presentation
  10. If your demo facility includes a media server load your best and most popular demo material scenes and musical cuts into a folder for quick and easy access

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