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Old 12-21-2010, 07:55 AM
froyo froyo is offline
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Default CALM Act becomes law

Hello. For those of you who may not have heard, President Obama signed the bill into law last week (you guys can Google it). So if I am incorrect about anything then hopefully someone will correct me. This means that this new law creates a mandate for the FCC to create a specific set of regulations or standards which will ensure that TV commercials will not be substantially louder (or substantially softer) than the program that it's a part of. The FCC has one year from last week to do this, essentially by the end of 2011. After that broadcasters, cable operators, and anyone who may 'broadcast' a TV show have one year to adhere to the FCC standards or start paying fines. In essence, at the latest two years from now we will see all this take effect.

How do you guys see this playing out on our end mixing the commercials? I mix quite a few a year for the hispanic and general markets and all we have to watch out for is not to exceed -10dBFS. The majority of the time my audio mix gets sent to a video house which will do a layback and/or a digital file. They either hand this off to the producing agency or to a distribution center like DG who in turn get it to whoever may be airing the commercial. Up until now one commercial could air on 4 or 5 different channels who all had different audio specs; we didn't and don't do 5 different mixes. What now though? You don't suppose that the advertising agencies producing these spots will now require us to do separate mixes for the different broadcasters do you?

That would seem to be the worst way to go about it. At this years' AES one of the workshops centered on Loudness, Metadata, etc. and there was a gentleman from NBC that showed their entire workflow from start to finish. It was particularly interesting that he said that by now they are close to 90% digital files (the rest is tape based obviously) and that once they ingest the spots they have an algorithm which analyzes the audio file and turns the file up or down depending on the spot. I am over simplifying this massively but that's the general idea. He assured us that this algorithm does not touch the audio in any way other than to turn it up or down. Gain changes strictly so that they could adhere to their spec, whatever that may be. This by the way on the NBC stations, not the affiliates. The affiliates have to figure it out for themselves.

I get the feeling this is how it will play out. Us audio mixers will keep mixing to -10 dBFS or whatever new number comes up (-23 LKFS), we will hand it off to the video folks who will do a layback or a digital file. They in turn will hand it off to the agency who will distribute it to whoever will air it. That broadcaster will analyze the audio and turn the spot up or down (not compress or limit) to fall within their spec. Not ideal by any means, but probably the one scenario that poses the least amount of hurdles to all involved.

This of course presupposes that we can trust the NBC's of the world to come up with a clean solution that doesn't compress or limit our mixes in any way, but just does strict gain changes. I personally would rather do 6 different mixes than trust someone else, but I doubt I am going to have a vote on the matter.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:33 AM
BRH BRH is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

I hope Channel 2 and 9 in Los Angeles take note of this.. QUIT SLAMMING THE COMMERCIALS! Much if this is done at Broadcast.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:24 AM
Rick Sanchez Rick Sanchez is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

The networks use limiters now, and I doubt that will change. It's sort of a safety valve for them.

Other than a requirement to meet what will probably be a LKFS spec, not much will change. Advertisers will still want to make their spots SEEM louder, so mixers will probably have to put the squeeze on everything.

One of the things I've seen in some newer specs is the LKFS for program material is measuring dialog only while commercials measure all channels.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:43 AM
Postman Postman is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

Last night I flipped across channels looking for something watchable and landed briefly on NBC here in Metropolis. A car commercial came on that sounded at least 4 or 5 db louder than the following commercial or program. They've still got work to do.

Just wait until advertisers figure out how to skew the loudness averages by having quiet followed by a burst of total insanity loud. You know, quiet air followed by a totally pumped screaming message or static noises. It will be legal and people will complain again.

Personally, I think government has more important jobs than trying to madate this. You know, important jobs like mandating new rf frequencies for radio mics because they sold away the old ones.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:44 AM
BRH BRH is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

Yes, I know about limiters, but Channel 2 and 9 seem to run their commercial spots thru some kind of compressor or Dominator set differently than the program content. Other channels with same commercials... it's better.
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:24 PM
Henchman Henchman is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

Quote:
Originally Posted by froyo View Post
That would seem to be the worst way to go about it. At this years' AES one of the workshops centered on Loudness, Metadata, etc. and there was a gentleman from NBC that showed their entire workflow from start to finish. It was particularly interesting that he said that by now they are close to 90% digital files (the rest is tape based obviously) and that once they ingest the spots they have an algorithm which analyzes the audio file and turns the file up or down depending on the spot. I am over simplifying this massively but that's the general idea. He assured us that this algorithm does not touch the audio in any way other than to turn it up or down. Gain changes strictly so that they could adhere to their spec, whatever that may be. This by the way on the NBC stations, not the affiliates. The affiliates have to figure it out for themselves.
Actually, all broadcasters are going to be doing this.
And what happens, is the broadcaster ingests it, analyzes it, and adjusts the level accordingly, then THAT is sent out to the affiliates. So no, the affiliates don't figure it out for themselves.

The TV programs have already been getting mixed to the new standard, and I have noticed that on the main stations, there is much less difference between program material and commercials.

Also, the -10 standard is gone with the new standard.Where peaks are allowed to be -3
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:46 PM
Pirate Post Pirate Post is offline
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Thumbs down Re: CALM Act becomes law

Quote:
Originally Posted by Postman View Post

Personally, I think government has more important jobs than trying to madate this. You know, important jobs like mandating new rf frequencies for radio mics because they sold away the old ones.
The Government is busy trying to destroy the internet at the moment.
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:06 PM
Henchman Henchman is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

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Originally Posted by Pirate Post View Post
The Government is busy trying to destroy the internet at the moment.
I'm sure they'll fail though.
They have at everything else.
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:35 PM
MrE MrE is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

These may be stupid questions but:

Is the metering in RMS or Peak? Or is there a spec for each? Or is RMS even involved at all. My thought process is that if your peaks can't exceed -3dBFS, could your overall mix still jump around like -1dBFS or something?

Does this affect the Dialnorm standard?
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:49 PM
Henchman Henchman is offline
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Default Re: CALM Act becomes law

Anyone, please feel free to correct me, but, if I'm correct the standard is a reading of -24 LKFS + or - 2db with a peak of -3 measured over all 5 speakers
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