Training for Non-Technical Cinema Employees

How to: Manager’s Walk Through

Quality is a process.

You already know this in several ways. Whether you are getting dressed or taking care of a guitar (or whatever else you have), you can leave all the care and details out and just survive. Surviving is a process.

Or you can put an extra bit of care and pay attention to a few extra details – put in a little quality, or put in a lot of quality – it is a creation. The quality part is a separate process.

There are different parts to this quality thing. There is the system of it. Make rules that you follow: Always take an extra moment to keep things clean, to not bang things together – hang up the clothes, keep the entry clean. That’s Quality Management.

But the rules can’t do it by themselves since they are just ideas. You need – and probably have – some kind of Quality Control – the actual doing.

And finally, with that, you have assurance – for you, for the people you are presenting to, for the people that you want to rely upon you. That is Quality Assurance.


We have to translate this to the work area and the work systems.

Quality Management – that is usually something the boss organizes and sets out. The policies and codes and systems. It also includes the legal requirements, like the public safety rules.

Quality Control – that is what you do as part of the big picture.

Quality Assurance – that is what you what the customers to feel, but it is also a feeling of confidence that you present.


In this system, you learn how to see and hear things, then you go into the dark auditorium and check things out. The most difficult thing about this Quality Assurance process is being prepared to type or write while you are in the dark, while you are trying to pay attention.

At first, the details that you learn and paying attention to the screen and paying attention to making notes, everything seems so important. Stay loose with it. Nobody is born knowing these things, or born with the abilities to notice differences between good and almost good.

Pay attention to what is being played and – most importantly – pay attention to its affect on you. It may take 10 or 15 evaluations before you get comfortable noticing things and a bit more for noticing several things and a bit more for being certain of your ability. Then a bit more to be comfortable noticing with certainty and then writing it down.

After a while, every time you will notice something you hadn’t seen or heard or experienced before. It may just be interesting, not something getting worse – but you will start to be more aware of what you are aware of.

And sometimes you don’t know what you are looking at, or listening to, until there are real problems.

But once you get some experience with some odd noise or a subtle corner focus problem, or whatever, you’ll be hip to that forever. And, you’ll be one of the assets of that every director can dream of: Part of the team who gets their movie played correctly for your mutual audience.

It is important to know that this gradual way of noticing subtle things is the way that everyone learns these layers of nuance. Nobody is born a colorist or sound mixer or Quality Assurance expert.


Keep going back to the lessons where you might pick up some detail, some subtle clue that you didn’t realize was important before. For example, there is a DCP that has a set of small squares going darker and lighter from the center. There is one square in the center that has a ‘0’ in it. If your equipment is good and set up well, you can see 2 zeros. If you have exceptional contrast, you can see 3. You should let someone know if you can’t see any ‘0’ at all.

And since our game is to look for changes, if you see one or two or three one week and they disappear the next, you have really got something that needs reporting. Pay attention for a developing problem.

You may notice that when a new bulb is put in, or if the port glass is cleaned well, that things get better again. Over time you’ll be able to confidently identify developing issues and their solutions, and teach others as well. Good luck to us all. Stay in touch and tell us how we can help.

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