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Audiolevels on DVDs

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Peter Rixner
Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 20, 2008 at 4:37:58 pm

Hi :)

coming from a audio recording background I always thought it's a good thing to pack a heavy limited audiolevel on a DVD with maybe the result reduced by 2 db for "safety". So I did for many productions with no problems. But now a client asked me about clipping on his old TV set. It obviously cannot take that level. To make it clear: The audio is clear and not clipped it's just the TV set that cannot take it.

Anyway -
so I looked at some hollywood blockbuster DVDs and ... oh my god ... they have a maximum preak at maybe -12 or less. What going on there. I never realized this. No wonder that every TV can take this.
Why are they going sooooo low ?!?

Another DVD from a TV-Documentry was at least -6. But still why are they doing that ? The Audio is limited anyway. There is no point in the movie where they use that headroom.

So are there some specifications about that ? And what are your experiences ?

Thanks!

Peter


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Ty Ford
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 20, 2008 at 8:59:28 pm

Hello Peter and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

There really are no standards. Discovery has some pretty rigid submission standards, but that's a network thing, not a DVD thing. PBS used to have equally low levels, like -12 Peak or something close to it. Satellite transmissions were -12 or -14.

I was like you, fill the bucket, but, as you have found, that can cause problems.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Peter Rixner
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 21, 2008 at 12:23:05 pm

Hello,

thanks. So I think I have to find my own way :)
I have some business customers that nearly only watch the DVDs on their notebooks and therefore nearly alway find the audiolevels to low. Those little speakers newer clipped with my high level but had a decent listening level.

Do You have any explanation where these incredible low level standards come from ?
I mean, I understand from analog times, that you need a maximum that could be exceeded by some peaks. But in digial age there is our known limit of 0db.

Just for interest, as soon a customer will ask me why my level is sooo low now :)

Thanks!

__Peter__




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Ty Ford
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 21, 2008 at 5:06:39 pm

Peter,

I think you already have the answer. Take a look at levels from 3-4 DVDs and shoot for that. BTW, let us know what you find. You can tell your clients "That the normal pro level."

I don't know where it came from. Nobody asked me. :)

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Rob Neidig
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 21, 2008 at 7:16:16 pm

I'm not sure where the standard came from, but there does seem to be somewhat of a standard, even if it's not written down anywhere! When I worked for Sony in a DVD encoding and authoring department, Digibeta masters would come in for the various programs to encode. Dialog levels were always set to average around -14 and peak around -10. Explosions and such could go higher, but most of a movie is dialog, so that's where they always put it. I expect that came from the standard 1k tone level for Digibeta at -20. That allows for 6-10dB of headroom in the dialog. Personally in my own work, I tend to go a little bit hotter with dialog averaging around -10 with the peaks going up to maybe -6.

Have fun!

Rob


Rob Neidig
R&R Media Productions
Eugene, Oregon


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Peter Rixner
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 21, 2008 at 7:43:28 pm

Thanks!

still I wonder why one should waste dynamic range.
Where is the reason to not bring the level to 0db or -0,1 on a digital medium ?
I am not suggesting that for amateurs that do their homemovies, but a professional production should have enough control over their audio to bring it to maximum level.

Anyhow ... that's semms to be the way it is :)

Thanks again - I probably will also be around -6 in future then.

Still interested in all opinions and tips!

Peter




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Kevin Franzen
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 23, 2008 at 2:05:53 am

In the broadcast world, the FCC has very strict rules regarding audio levels both TV and radio. Most likely the production companies wanted to save money and didn't go back to the pre mastered mix.



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Ty Ford
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Dec 23, 2008 at 3:19:48 am

Thanks for joining the party Kevin.

Maybe you can help sort things out. To my knowledge, the FCC has laws concerning under and over modulation, but they don't control the production or post production process.

Almost every post house I know here in the US is in a constant state of "I don't know" when it comes to audio levels. The same spot running on different stations and cable systems in the same market vary wildly and widely.

Even if there were a standard for delivery, you couldn't tell by what hits the air. In Baltimore, which is considered a major market. The level differences between spots and programming is HUGE and it's even worse on DTV. Why? There's no one at master control to ride gain because the chain is automated.

I have a friend who works for one of the TV stations. Occasionally he will intervene to smooth level differences, but are you telling me you don't have to dive for the remote when the spots air?

If I ran that sloppy a board in radio, I'd be fired. If it isn't criminal, it should be.

Do you know something we don't?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Kevin Franzen
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Jan 23, 2009 at 3:05:58 am

From what I understand, from school and people who have been around the business for a while, setting levels was/is very important for the analog broadcast signal. If the signal is too strong it can interfere with the neighboring frequencies. For a digital world there shouldn't be any issues.

But the standards are still around for two main reasons. If every production company is required to set the output levels the same, the station engineer sets the fader to unity and doesn't have to worry about the level strength being too loud or too quiet. On the viewer's side, the views doesn't have to continually adjust the volume every time a show/commercial comes on (however sometimes they do depending on the station).

Secondly, it prevents advertisement companies from competing on commercial loudness through limiting.

All my projects that head for broadcast have to be set a -20dBs, peaks at -10dBs.

I hope this helps
Kevin



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Ty Ford
Re: Audiolevels on DVDs
on Jan 23, 2009 at 3:08:21 am

[Kevin Franzen] "All my projects that head for broadcast have to be set a -20dBs, peaks at -10dBs. "

Hi Kevin,

According to who?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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