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Audio Levels for Documentary formats

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Bruce David Janu
Audio Levels for Documentary formats
on Jan 15, 2007 at 4:36:02 pm

Hi all,

W just wrapped up production on our first documentary. However, audio is (an has always been) my weakest point. We have tweaked the soundtrack, keeping the levels around -6db or so. This sounds great when played on dvd over a standard tv. However, here's my question: We need to take the film and place it onto Beta Sp and DigiBeta for the film festival circuit. I know the digital audio environment is different than the analog, so what must we do with our sound when placing the film onto those two formats (I assume the sound as is will be okay for the DigiBeta?).

Thanks for your help.

Bruce David Janu
Bell, Book & Camera Productions


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio Levels for Documentary formats
on Jan 17, 2007 at 1:40:36 am

Most TV networks spec audio levels on digibetacam (or digital) call for tone at -20 dB and peaks no higher than -12 dB.

I find that low. Unless I'm directed to do so, I set tone at -20 dB and usually try to peak about -3 dB, and with a good limiter.

Satellite transmission usually want -14 for peaks; something to do with lower headroom.

For analog, a lot depends on the machine you're dubbing to and how much headroom they have. I don't have a lot of good data, but peaks at +6 dB are not unheard of, in my experience.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. Find out more at http://home.comcast.net/~tyreeford/AudioBootcamp.html
or http://www.tyford.com


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Bruce David Janu
Re: Audio Levels for Documentary formats
on Jan 17, 2007 at 3:18:30 am

Thanks Ty,

I am creating dubs from DV to DigiBeta and BetaSp to be used at film festivals, not necessarily for broadcast. Do your levels still apply to the particluar medium or is this more of a sound issue for where-ever the production will be shown? In other words, am I safe at -6db for film festival use for both DigiBeta and BetaSP?

Thank you for your help. I greatly appreciate it.

Bruce David Janu

Bruce David Janu
Bell, Book & Camera Productions
http://www.bellbookcamera.com


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio Levels for Documentary formats
on Jan 17, 2007 at 10:05:07 am

Hi Bruce,

I'd check with the festival folks to see if snyone there had a preference. My guess is that regularity of level among tapes is equally important; so they don't have to be jacking levels up and down for each piece.

There may still be level differences due to individual film makers using more or less compression and limiting of dynamic range in their audio. You may have to do a bit of mixing by ear to even that out.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. Find out more at http://home.comcast.net/~tyreeford/AudioBootcamp.html
or http://www.tyford.com


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