Congratulations to Thomas Lund, TC Electronic’s CTO for Broadcast & Production, and Senior Research Engineer, Esben Skovenborg (Ph.D.), received the Best Peer-Reviewed Paper Award by The Audio Engineering Society at the recent AES 135 Convention in New York for their official convention paper 8983: ‘Level-Normalization of Feature Films Using Loudness vs Speech’.
Esben Skovenborg says….
“Needless to say we’re very honored to receive this award that recognizes our scientific research methods as well as our contribution to the field of loudness technology. Although TC and others have provided loudness solutions for years, considerable challenges remain, and by basing new products and technology on empirical research we are better able to serve the needs of the broadcasters and audio engineers.”
Thomas Lund adds…
“We felt it was important to make this study as films may be made for cinema, but are often viewed on TV, where they have to co-exist with all kinds of program material in terms of audio loudness. Further, even if we look at film in an isolated context, there’s also a loudness war going on in cinema, and we were trying to understand the reasons why. In broadcast as well as in cinema, it appears the number one goal is to get the overall loudness suitable without hampering speech intelligibility. Speech level is less important,”
In their paper they present an empirical study of the differences between level-normalization of feature films using the two dominant methods: loudness normalization and speech (“dialog”) normalization. The sound of 35 recent ‘blockbuster’ DVDs were analyzed using both methods. The difference in normalization level was up to 14 dB, on average 5.5 dB. For all films the loudness method provided the lowest normalization level and hence the greatest headroom. Comparison of automatic speech measurement to manual measurement of dialog anchors shows a typical difference of 4.5 dB, with the automatic measurement producing the highest level. Employing the speech-classifier to process rather than measure the films, a listening test suggested that the automatic measure is positively biased because it sometimes fails to distinguish between “normal speech” and speech combined with “action” sounds.
At IBC earlier this year Mike attended a session hosted by Thomas Lund at which they outlined some of the work they have been doing on loudness in the cinema workflow. It seems that there are problems in the cinemas with film goers complaining that the films are too loud so they are choosing not to play them back at the correct calibrated Dolby level and in the dubbing theatres, mixers are being pressurised to mix films louder and louder, so this work cannot come to soon for the film industry.
The full paper will soon be available in the AES Convention Paper E-Library
More papers on loudness by Thomas Lund and Esben Skovenborg can be found at TC Electronic Library