Definitions

THX

THX

THX is a trade name of a high-fidelity sound reproduction standard for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, and car audio systems. THX stands for Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment. THX was developed by Tomlinson Holman at George Lucas's company Lucasfilm in 1983 to ensure that the soundtrack for the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi, would be accurately reproduced in the best venues. The distinctive crescendo used in the THX trailers is known as the "Deep Note".

The THX system is a recording technology, and it does not specify a sound recording format: all sound formats, whether digital (Dolby Digital, SDDS) or analog (Dolby SR, Ultra-Stereo), can be "shown in THX." THX is mainly a quality assurance system. THX-certified theaters provide a high-quality, predictable playback environment to ensure that any film soundtrack mixed in THX will sound as near as possible to the intentions of the mixing engineer. THX also provides certified theaters with a special crossover circuit whose use is part of the standard. Certification of an auditorium entails specific acoustic and other technical requirements; architectural requirements include a floating floor, baffled and acoustically treated walls, no parallel walls (to reduce standing waves), a perforated screen (to allow center channel continuity), and NC30 rating for background noise.

Applications

THX sets strict standards for high quality sound and images.

According to Tomlinson Holman, the inventor of the THX system, the name of the technology was deliberately chosen because it contained both a reference to his name, and to Lucas's early film THX 1138. The original name was "Tom Holman's Crossover" (Crossover being sometimes referred to as Xover) or the "Tom Holman eXperiment."

THX Ltd., the company that licenses THX and the associated technology, is based in San Rafael, California, but has offices in Burbank and Hollywood.

THX launched a certification program for HD video products to ensure HD projectors, LCDs, plasmas and DVRs meet high standards for quality. The TiVo Series3 HD DVR and a number of projectors from Runco and Vidikron became the first THX Certified HD products.

The THX II Certified Car Audio System can be found in many Lincoln automobiles produced since 2003. The system was recently recognized among the Best Car Audio Systems of 2006 by the editors of CNET.

THX Ltd. started a licensing program for home screening rooms in 2005, which requires standards similar in concept, though not in detail, to its cinema certification program; before this happened, there was a very small number of (very expensive) home theatres which were actually constructed to THX Cinema standards, most notable of actor and comedian Eddie Murphy.

The world's largest THX cinema is the Colosseum Kino in Oslo, Norway.

The distinctive crescendo used in the THX trailers is known as the "Deep Note".

This same "Deep Note" sound effect is almost identical to the opening sound effect in the song "Countdown To Zero", by the progressive rock group Asia. It was released on their 1985 album Astra, and predates the "Deep Note" by approximately three years.

The character in the THX trailers is called "Tex" and was created by John Lasseter at Pixar.

The THX trailer entitled "Cimarron" which first appeared at the start of the 1988 film Willow, used music composed by James Horner which featured a variation of the "Deep Note".

The THX broadway logo on a DVD has a lower-pitched deep note, while the VHS/Laserdisc logo had a higher-pitched deep-note that was similar to "Wings" (1983).

The first theater THX was used in was at the University of Southern California's Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre as a part of USC's acclaimed film school. The Norris Theatre's THX system is currently second-best in California to that of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Other Tom Holman innovations

THX inventor Tomlinson Holman has continued his work in entertainment technologies under his current company, TMH Corporation

While distinct from the THX Certification, the 10.2 surround sound system has also been spearheaded by Holman. 10.2 includes a front-left, top-front-left, front-right, top-front-right, surround-left, top-surround-left, surround-right, top-surround-right, center, "god" (top-center, above the screen), and front and back subwoofers. A 10.2 surround system is currently installed at the Integrated Media Systems Center at USC.

Film references

Some trailers have references to, or are stylized to match, various films. Examples include:

  • Shrek (series): The THX logo appears with its characteristic sound, followed shortly by the logo falling over, revealing that it is really just a wooden cutout. Behind the logo, Shrek and Donkey are shown playing the "Deep Note" sound with various instruments. Shrek rights the cutout/logo, and the sequence finishes as Shrek and Donkey poke their heads in from off-camera, for one final exchange.
  • Terminator 2: A modified version of the "Cavalcade" trailer shows an electrified ball of energy appear on the screen, which is quickly replaced with an identity scanning device. The device fires beam that scans left to right, as if scanning the viewer's eyes, after which the "T2" logo appears. The logo is then shot by the Terminator (his reflection is slightly visible on the logo) causing it to explode into small, irregular pieces. Sparks fall as the pieces slowly melt into a silvery liquid, which then transforms back into the THX logo.
  • Toy Story: The THX logo starts as usual, which then breaks down as if due to an electrical failure. A light is switched on as Tex rolls in from off-camera, muttering "Oh, George". Tex opens a panel on the X, grabs a rocket pack, and flies off screen, pulling out a hammer just before he goes off screen. Tex hammers at something on the right side of the screen, drills at something on the left side, audibly complains after dropping one of his tools, and then flies over to the T and moves a large switch. The switch causes the logo to re-activate and complete its usual sequence.
  • Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny: A short animated segment of Jack Black and Kyle Gass performing a sound check which consists of the duo farting precedes the appearance of a modified logo reading "THC" with the subtitle: The audience is baking. The classic THX tone is replaced by two gas-passing sounds in the same tone.
  • The Matthew's World Movie 2: The THX logo was drawn out of black pen instead of the current gray outline. And, the THX tone was replaced by Xsaviar humming out the Deep Note, and then laughing nervously, then shrieking off-screen. And Matthew was quoting out the "The audience is listening" slogan of the THX company.

Parodies

In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, a film within the movie begins with a hand holding a wand as if to call an orchestra to order, which then touches off a dischordant, ridiculously loud, powerful trailer. The force of the sound is shown blasting characters from their seats. As the trailer comes to a close, text appears on the screen reading: "THUD Sound Systems, a division of Mucasfilm LTD". The trailer ends with a voice speaking the words "The audience is now deaf."

In The Simpsons episode "Burns' Heir", the THX logo plays extremely loudly causing the ground to shake, people's teeth to shatter and one man's head to explode. Despite this, Grampa Simpson still demands that they turn the volume up. This scene was made into an actual THX trailer.

The Simpsons Movie DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases have an unauthorized parody of the THX "Tex" trailers as an easter egg, where Homer Simpson becomes annoyed by a "Tex" caricature and eventually smashes it. A disclaimer after the trailer explains that neither the trailer nor The Simpsons Movie itself involved THX's input. Because of this, an imitation of the "deep note" sound is used and the logo used in the parody reads "TH".

During the scene where the animals are in a house in the film Over the Hedge, one of the characters accidentally steps on a television remote control, turning the TV on to reveal the THX logo and the "Deep Note" crescendo.

In the Boondocks episode ...Or Die Trying, Grandpa mimics the THX deep note crescendo when reassuring Jazmin that the theater they are going to is a quality theater.

At the beginning of the video game The Curse of Monkey Island the THX logo is replaced with the letters CMI and instead of the "Deep Note" crescendo we can hear a "Monkeys Screaming" crescendo. At the end text appears on the screen reading: "The monkeys are listening".

Before each episode of the Swedish Science Fiction comedy series Kenny Starfighter there is a THX-like logo but with the letters NDE replacing the original and a caption reading "Near Deaf Experience".

In the beginning of the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Kyle Gass emits a long fart that reproduces the THX sound, and the logo THC shows on screen. The tag line underneath has been changed from "The audience is listening" to "The audience is baking".

During a period of time a lot of the pirated DVD-rips contained a trailer with the THX crescendo but instead of the THX logo this DiVX logo would emerge and the tag line underneath would read "the audience is leeching".

In an episode of George Lopez, George is talking about his new home theater, when he imitates a sound similar to Deep Note and says, "The George is listening."

  • A Back at the Barnyard episode has a parody of THX, reading "BYX" and having a spoof of the Deep Note.

See also

References

External links

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