Sound words

Letters to the Boston editor, November 13, 2009
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  November 11, 2009

I appreciate the positive review Jeffrey Gantz gave to Bad Boy Made Good, the documentary film I produced, which was shown this week at the MFA. But I have to comment on his mention of a “flaw” in the synchronization between the video and sound during some of the interviews in the film.

The audio for the film was mixed by me, with the help of some of the best audio-for-video talents in the area. It has been screened for hundreds of audio engineers, and none have noticed any such problems. Which is not to say that Gantz made them up: he did see a problem, but it’s not in the film. It’s in the system he was using to watch it.

It’s a dirty little secret that, with the advent of digital television, audio/video synchronization problems have become endemic. Because there are more than a dozen different DTV formats, digital-television sets often need to perform some kind of conversion on the picture, and that takes a finite amount of time, measured in frames, or 1/30th of a second. The audio, however, gets converted (from digital to analogue) much faster, usually in less than 1/1000th of a second, so the sound gets ahead of the picture.

Back in the 1980s, when the FCC was busy bowing to industry pressure to adopt multiple formats for DTV (instead of a single one, as they did for color television, FM radio, stereo television, etc.), they ignored this problem, but now it’s coming back to bite us. Some in the industry are working on a way to “timestamp” audio and video, so home theater systems can keep the elements in sync. But that is still probably a long way off, and may not be of any help to people who have already invested in digital television sets.

Paul D. Lehrman
The Ballet Mécanique Project
Coordinator of Music Technology

Dirty secrets
Your article “Stuck in His Throat” missed some of the most fascinating stories about the making of Deep Throat, which Sudbury father David Bertolino wants to make into a play. Linda Lovelace’s husband and the production manager of the film, Chuck Traynor, was an abusive asshole who admitted to beating up both Lovelace and fellow porn star Marilyn Chambers, whom he later married. Lovelace herself claimed that the film was shot with a gun to her head, and that Traynor had her gang-raped into submission.

“They treated me like an inflatable plastic doll, picking me up and moving me here and there,” she had said about the filming experience. “They spread my legs this way and that, shoving their things at me and into me, they were playing musical chairs with parts of my body. I have never been so frightened and disgraced and humiliated in my life. I felt like garbage. I engaged in sex acts for pornography against my will to avoid being killed. . . . The lives of my family were threatened.” Nice hobby, dad.

Tara Murtha

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