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Old December 18th, 2012, 11:16 PM   #1
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C.A.L.M act takes effect.

C.A.L.M act takes effect in U.S. As someone who makes commercials, I have to say this was bound to happen, a lot of producers/advertisers would really amp up the volume of their adverts to "jolt" the viewer, this tactic actually irritates the viewer when every time an ad plays during the break one has to turn down the volume then back up again when the show resumes.

Here's the link to the FCC site: Loud Commercials | FCC.gov
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Old December 19th, 2012, 12:39 PM   #2
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

Yeah that is so annoying. Wy wife says, "turn it down. You're so deaf."
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Old December 20th, 2012, 07:14 PM   #3
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

My wife also wondered about this "phenomenon" so I explained to her that it's intentionally done by some ad producers. :(
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Old December 21st, 2012, 08:42 PM   #4
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

We've just toured the US southern states and again wondered at the differing audio levels of the TV networks,
not the programs but the overall station levels. I would have thought that should be corrected and evened out,
then this C.A.L.M Act might be more effective.

I suppose it's because in Oz, you can switch around the channels without having to adjust the sound.
Some (well many) of the ads are annoying through repetition, but their volume stays within the stations level.
Currently 'funeral plans' are the flavour of the month, you can bury all those thanks :)

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Old December 22nd, 2012, 08:11 PM   #5
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

What a lovely choice of acronym!
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 07:21 AM   #6
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

I've always hated the dreaded 'full-blast' noise of commercial breaks compared to the much lower noise levels during normal programs and films. In fact, most movies shown on TV tend to be at extremely low levels, forcing you to up the volume, only to be then blasted for 3-5 minutes of advertising hell. We get so fed up with the constant need to up & down volume levels, that we normally now just press "Mute" during a commercial break...which is the exact opposite of what the advertisers hopes for its viewers, as they scream at you to buy their products.

It is not just commercials that annoy me though. Many TV films have human voice levels almost at a whisper so that you need to up the volume to listen to a conversation, only to suddenly blast you with full force volume during background music or action sequences, which then forces you to fiddle with the volume control throughout a full length feature film. This has become a common problem in recent movies and rarely happens in older films.

The C.A.L.M. Act in USA is a welcome step forward to a more pleasant TV-watching experience. I just hope that European TV follows the same idea. Non-commercial BBC channels have always been fairly good at keeping levels how they should be...level. But they do not have breaks like ITV and other UK commercial channels.

Italy is probably one of the worst culprits for providing ear-bursting levels during commercial breaks when compared to normal sound levels during movies and programs. I remember being annoyed after watching Italian television several decades ago, by the crazy increase in volume during commercial breaks (something which was ten times worse before the invention of a TV-remote control!). But now it seems that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Hopefully CALM will spread throughout the TV networks during the upcoming year...but I somehow doubt it.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 09:00 AM   #7
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

It may be a little more complicated than mere decibel volume level ... Compression may be at work.
The way commercials are "compressed" contributes to the perceived high volume level annoyance that irritates us all.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 09:52 AM   #8
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

This is actually an intentional "method" or "tactic" that I was informed of when I started making commercials in the very early 90's. How long some producers have been doing it prior is beyond me but I do know I avoided this tactic as I know it can startle, which in the long run and frequency becomes irritating.

So no, its not "compression" as you say since even before, this was not an issue since ads were submitted using similar standards, perhaps even better specs than some shows.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 10:01 AM   #9
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

There is no way that compression is a big contributing factor to the extreme noise-volume-levels of commercials shown on worldwide TV Channels...
The main problem is simply because they purposely produce each commercial at ear-piercing volumes to attract, or as Ted mentioned, "Jolt", the viewers and broadcast them at far higher decibels.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 10:36 AM   #10
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

I've had soundies tell me the exact opposite. That the ads are even run through limiters before broadcast to produce a lower dynamic range for more 'punch'.
What does seem to have changed from the old days is that shows had a lower dynamic range as well. Now, particularly with higher production value shows, the levels are more in line with movies (DVD mixes at least) and the broadcasters don't seem to be as fussy about keeping the levels even across everything. Movie mixes don't get much adjustment either. So this would make the contrast between the ads and the shows very obvious indeed.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 10:50 AM   #11
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

In Belgium commercials are often louder as well and that has been for years, I otoh watch just a bit tv and what I watch I always record and then fast forward through the commercials.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 02:20 PM   #12
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

It is compression that makes the difference. There are fixed limits to the level at which you can record and then broadcast anything. Exceed those limits and the recording will become distorted or the broadcaster will reject the content for having excessively high levels. The end result is that there is a limit to how far up your peak audio levels can go. However if you compress the audio you can dramatically increase the apparent volume because you can increase the average loudness of the audio. Typical audio such as speach and music is full of very high, very short peaks and troughs. It is the peaks that limit the maximum level. Compressing the audio will bring the peaks down and the troughs up, allowing you to raise the average audio level. The peak volume will be the same, but overall the audio will sound much louder. This practice has been in use in commercials for years to make the commercials sound louder than the programmes either side, even though the actual peak sound levels may be no different. It is a technique used in radio communications since the 1930"s so it really isn't anything new.

Movies suffer from the reverse problem. They want to use sound to help tell the story. They want to have gentle dialogue in slower parts of the film and then dramatic music and loud explosions in the faster paced parts. Again there is a finite limit as to how loud the loudest music or explosions can be. As a result in order to get the desired contrast between dramatic loud and peaceful quiet, it is often necessary to use very low levels for the dialogue. In the cinema this is fine as most don't object to loud music or explosions, but at home when the kids are in bed and your trying to hear the dialogue at a reasonable level having music suddenly blast out can be a PITA.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 11:33 PM   #13
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
It is not just commercials that annoy me though. Many TV films have human voice levels almost at a whisper so that you need to up the volume to listen to a conversation, only to suddenly blast you with full force volume during background music or action sequences, which then forces you to fiddle with the volume control throughout a full length feature film. This has become a common problem in recent movies and rarely happens in older films.
^
This in particular, drives me mad. And I can't for the life of me understand why it happens.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 09:16 AM   #14
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
It is compression that makes the difference. There are fixed limits to the level at which you can record and then broadcast anything. Exceed those limits and the recording will become distorted or the broadcaster will reject the content for having excessively high levels. The end result is that there is a limit to how far up your peak audio levels can go. However if you compress the audio you can dramatically increase the apparent volume because you can increase the average loudness of the audio. Typical audio such as speach and music is full of very high, very short peaks and troughs. It is the peaks that limit the maximum level. Compressing the audio will bring the peaks down and the troughs up, allowing you to raise the average audio level. The peak volume will be the same, but overall the audio will sound much louder. This practice has been in use in commercials for years to make the commercials sound louder than the programmes either side, even though the actual peak sound levels may be no different. It is a technique used in radio communications since the 1930"s so it really isn't anything new.

Movies suffer from the reverse problem. They want to use sound to help tell the story. They want to have gentle dialogue in slower parts of the film and then dramatic music and loud explosions in the faster paced parts. Again there is a finite limit as to how loud the loudest music or explosions can be. As a result in order to get the desired contrast between dramatic loud and peaceful quiet, it is often necessary to use very low levels for the dialogue. In the cinema this is fine as most don't object to loud music or explosions, but at home when the kids are in bed and your trying to hear the dialogue at a reasonable level having music suddenly blast out can be a PITA.
Thank you Alistar for the far more detailed explanation. And it is why I think these laws dealing with decibel levels/overall volume may not work. I learned about this compression technique from audio engineers who mix music for CD production. They were lamenting how producers demand compression on mainstream music instead of letting more of the artistic dynamic range come thru - "they just want it loud".
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Old December 25th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #15
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Re: C.A.L.M act takes effect.

There are limits in the UK to the amount of compression that can be applied to commercials. One current issue is that there is currently no standard for "loudness" measurement and metering. This is something the EBU are working on here in Europe.
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