Following on from my post on UK Broadcasters Set To Adopt New Loudness Standards In 2013 I have had a conversation with Peter Groom which he has given me permission to reproduce here….
Specifically with regard to commercials, what is the current situation re loudness metering and delivery as “the responsibility of the studio, not the broadcaster”.
The current situation is a mess because the new standard hasn’t been fully implemented and we still don’t have a formal standard and a date from which it will be implemented. Currently as long as the audio doesn’t go about PPM6 everyone is happy. The client will want the life compressed out of it, and it will pass the tech review as long as it doesn’t go over PPM 6 so that is it. No one cares about the sound.
I do think it needs an across the board implementation date and spec that EVERYBODY adheres to, or not at all.
Absolutely, and we don’t have one in the UK yet.
This is because if i mix a 30 sec commercial to a loudness of -23 but am the only mix in the break that does (ie everyone else just flat line compresses to PPM6) then my mix will sound very quiet on air in relationship to the other spots. You could say that file based delivery channels are supposed to decrease the heavily compressed ads to an equivalent loudness, but recently when I have submitted commercial mixes through these delivery channels, i have had them come back to me saying that my mix was 3-4 db low (ie only PPM5.1) for about 3 seconds (the rest as PPM6) and it will sound quiet on air compared with the other material. So I re mix, make it more PPM6 like and re submit!!
I rest my case, everyone is expecting the life to be squashed out of the ads and that is fine (not). The poor consumer has to keep leaping for the remote to turn down or even mute the ads because they are so loud compared to the programmes they cut into. Once the R128 spec is implemented then there should be no incentive to compress the life out of a commercial because once the loudness figure has been measured it will be turned down to -23.
Additionally, advertisers are VERY tetchy if their ad sounds even a fraction quieter than the previous / next, and ideally want theirs louder than everyone else - after all ad spots are VERY expensive and have to be maximised so they say.
Absolutely but once the standard is implemented and as long as it is policed properly, (At least in the US with the CALM Act it has the law behind it for additional clout.) then this concept should die out, but I don’t expect it to be an easy ride.
Add this. Some years ago I made a series of ads that went on air. The TX station were proven in the end to have ballsed up the ingest levels to their server and admitted fault, but before then the ad agency DID file a legal case against me and my studio for the lost air time over an Easter weekend as they felt that their Ads were transmitted quiet on air. It was a significant sum and would have finished our studio off.
Ouch and scary, but with huge sums of money at stake it doesn’t surprise me.
I’m not suggesting that getting sued is commonplace, but it is a big problem and studios / mixers need to have 100% confidence that the loudness algorithm is to be rolled out on a certain date and after that date everyone MUST mix to it. Until then i don’t think it will ever stick.
We will need to have a huge re-education scheme for clients, mixers, broadcasters, everyone to explain the consequences of the new workflow and as mixers we will need to develop new mixing techniques to create impact points as well as breathing points in the content we mix. Remember that the -23 figure is an average, so there should be points in a programme were it is louder and others where it is quieter so the average ends up as -23. We could choose to continue to compress the life out of the content but there will be no incentive because we do that now so my ad will be louder than your ad. In the the new world all ads and programmes will be the same loudness, so what will be the point in compressing the life out of the mix, we can get light and shade back into what we do.