Sound Levels for DVD, question at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 27th, 2011, 05:55 AM   #1
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Sound Levels for DVD, question

I have been setting my sound level to -2db for DVD production (mainly voice over work). Should I be using -6 or -12db?

Any advice or tips would be much appreciated.
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2011, 07:51 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: New York
Posts: 1,844
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

As a finished product 'Video' DVD? Stereo or 5.1?
Technically... either way, as long as you do not exceed 0dBFS you should be OK. However I prefer I few dBs more headroom for conversion and unknown D/A converters.. of course the actual 'loudness' depends on how much it's compressed and other factors. There's usually no submission guidelines like there is for B'cast TV. For Instance: Ref. @ -20dBFS with program peaks not exceeding -10dBFS. There are LKFS meters available for the new 'CALM Act' ATSC standards as well.

If the VO track is a component to be used in editing.. it should delivered in a uncompressed PCM file format, with adequate levels which are not clipped or otherwise distorted.
Rick Reineke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2011, 12:07 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 416
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

There are lots of different standards, but to keep it simple I like to use the rule:

If this is going to be edited or processed down the line, leave 12db headroom (max peak -12dbFS).

If this is the final mastered product to be delivered to the end listener, then use as much of the range as you want to get the loudness to the ballpark of other competing products. It's better to hear a signal with only -1dbFS of headroom than the same signal compressed down to a "nice" -12dbFS level.
Tom Morrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2011, 05:29 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,430
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

I set my peak levels at -12db max. You can tell this is in the ballpark by comparing it with any mass produced movie dvd.

Oh wait, I just read your post again. "Production dvd" means you have data on it meant for editing? If so, then don't exceed 0dB. The editor can pull it down in post if they need to.
Warren Kawamoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 02:24 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Thanks, I normally set the recording level to approx -12db and then Normalize the sound track to -2 for the final DVD master. It's the final Normalize figure I wanted to know about.

I produced a DVD recently of a musical for which I Normalized to -2db and added extra sound tracks (from 2 & 3 mikes). I produced 50 DVDs and picked one copy at random to check. Yep, the sound was dreadful I must have been overworking because I didn't check the combined levels before writing. I binned the 50 copies and reset the combined sound levels t0 -2db, no problem, sounds OK now.

I have made a substantial investment in sound gear this year, yet have never looked into recording techniques in any depth. So forgive me if I start asking a few seemingly basic questions over the next few weeks
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 07:10 AM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Be careful normalizing as it can bring everything up to a uniform level. Broad dynamic range with contrasts between loud and soft is part of the dramatic flow of a production or the musical expression of a performance. Applying a blanket 'correction' by normalizing to some arbitrarily chosen level can destroy that if you're not careful. Better to ride gain manually, with accurate metering, as you master the final mix.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 07:44 AM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

I was under the impression that Normalize just raised the peak levels to a set value and moved everything up in relation to that level, i.e. the soft passages would still remain soft relative to the peak level.

Correct me if I am wrong, but what you refer to is "Equalize" the level
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 09:08 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Consider you have two sections of dialog. One has an average level of -15 dbFS and the highest peak touches -10 dBFS. The other has an average level of -10dBFS with the highest peak touching -5dBFS. You normalize both with the max level set to -3 dBFS. The first clip gets 7dB of gain added, the second gets 2dB of gain added, bringing the max peak in each clip to -3 dBFS. But what has happend to the average levels? In the first clip, the average rises from -15 to -8. In the second, the average rises from -10 to -8. Both clips are at the same level and the dramatic distinction between them is lost. Is those clips were two different takes of the same scene and you're cutting between them that's what you want - their levels should match. But if clip one is a love scene at one point in the film and clip two is a fight scene at some other time in the movie, you defintely do not want the levels to be the same. Normalizing within a scene is fine. Normalizing the entire film usually is not.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 09:24 AM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

In Audition there is only the option to Normalize to a user defined value, there isn't a Peak or Loudness option
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 09:34 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Read how it is applied. Normalize looks at the level of the highest peak in the selection being processed and determines how much gain needs to be added to bring that peak to the desired level, then applies that gain uniformly over the entire selection in question. If your selection is the entire film, that means the same amount of gain is added over the whole piece from start to finish. You need to be sure that's really what you want to do. It could be that quiet passages are already just right and adding that much gain to them will make them too loud.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 11:01 AM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Thanks Steve, I was aware that the entire selection would be moved up, putting the peaks at the chosen level.

This would surely just have the effect of raising the entire sound track level, leaving the dips relative to the highs. I guess the ideal solution would be to set the levels at the correct position. However, when capturing audio I understood that you have to leave some headroom. I do this by setting my recording level to -12 and then Normalize the sound to -2db, which in theory and in practice still leaves the loud and soft sections relative to each other. i.e. I do not get a sustained -2db throughout the production.

My first question was what level should I produce my DVDs at
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 11:37 AM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Maybe I am thinking about this in the wrong way Steve. What you say does make sense. I don't tend to make a global colour correction to my film, I do it section by section. Perhaps this is what I should also be doing with my audio.

Hmmm. I am thinking about it in a new way now.

Thanks
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 12:29 PM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Oliver View Post
Maybe I am thinking about this in the wrong way Steve. What you say does make sense. I don't tend to make a global colour correction to my film, I do it section by section. Perhaps this is what I should also be doing with my audio.

Hmmm. I am thinking about it in a new way now.

Thanks
Exactly! Normalize within a scene so that cuts from different takes have the same levels and intercut smoothly. But for the film as a whole, mix by ear on calibrated monitors and with properly calibrated meters (Dorrough loudness meters are a good bet). Put on a brick-wall limiter so you never accidently go over your target level, say -3dBFS or so.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 12:50 PM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Thanks again Steve,

I have just ordered a book "Mastering Audio: The art and the science by Bob Katz", hope this will shed some light on audio techniques.
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 28th, 2011, 02:45 PM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Sound Levels for DVD, question

Katz is a noted authority but do be aware that the tecniques and considerations for mastering audio for music CDs is a totally different art from film soundtrack mastering. Two highly recommended books are "Sound for Film and Television" and "Sound for Digital Video," both by Tomlinson Holman. You've surely encountered Holman's work, or his initials, before even though you might not recognise the name ... he's the "TH" in "THX Sound" and knows a thing or two about recording and mastering
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!

Last edited by Steve House; July 28th, 2011 at 05:30 PM.
Steve House is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:14 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network