As a bit of fun on the team we’ve challenged one another to this; you get to keep all the plug-ins supplied with you DAW but then you only get to keep one more plug-in. It can’t be a suite of plug-ins and it can’t be an external application. It also can’t be plug-ins that come bundled with certain subscription plans, so for Pro Tools users we have removed anything other than the plug-ins that come with the native version of Pro Tools.
In considering my choice for this bit of desert-island fun I can live with the stock plug-ins for most of what I do. In fact for most of my audio-post work I don’t use that many plug-ins. The stock Avid EQ is great and although I normally use the Avid Pro Compressor and Limiter for dynamics duties I would tun to the Dynamics section of the Avid channel strip. For reverb I could get by with Dverb. In fact for many years I used Dverb very successfully from back when it was a separate plug-in authorised using a floppy disk! For noise reduction I would turn to iZotope RX 7 Advanced but that is a separate piece of software, so that would be my workaround. That just leaves metering. Although the Avid metering options are very comprehensive they still do not offer BS 1770 loudness metering. As I need to be able to deliver loudness compliant mixes, my one plug-in is going to be VisLM from Nugen Audio.
Nugen Audio VisLM
The Nugen Audio Vis LM version 2 has a scrolling history, presets for all the common standards (and some of the less well-known ones too). It writes automation data, so you can see where there are problems in your project from the Pro Tools timeline.
What’s New In Nugen Audio’s VisLM2?
A Timecode and Loudness Profile Memory Function that tracks and retains the timecode and loudness profile so that the overall loudness measurement can be updated automatically at any time. This profile can be saved with the session, and re-measuring and rebooting delays are eliminated.
ReMEM(TM) Rewritable Memory Edit Mode allows program loudness over-dubbing for enhanced workflow efficiency. This memorises the program loudness profile so that only changes need to be measured. The changes are then integrated automatically and intelligently with the memorised loudness profile to provide accurate program loudness readings on the fly.
New zoomable and scrollable history and log file capabilities that allow detailed inspection of the entire file history using customisable parameters. A text file summary can also be created.
A fully re-sizeable and configurable interface that is now completely adjustable to show exactly what is required with unsurpassed clarity, maximising precious screen real-estate.
This is my preferred loudness meter, it does everything I need it to do, I like the way it displays the data and that I can colour it and resize the window to suit my screen real-estate.
The Rewritable Memory Edit Mode is absolutely amazing. It enables me to make small corrections to a mix and not have to re-analyze the whole programme. I also love the way I can resize the window and all the additional options they have added to the plug-in.
For people working in film production and especially trailers, Nugen Audio have now included the Leq measurement that is included in the trailer delivery spec for specifying loudness of film trailers.
Free Tutorial - Loudness Differential Monitoring Using Colour Bands In The Nugen Audio VisLM Loudness Meter
In this free video tutorial, I show how to use loudness differential monitoring using colour bands in the VisLM loudness meter to keep within loudness targets.
Long before loudness workflows came along, I would always consider what the key narrative elements are in any program I am working on, and make sure that they are clearly audible even in the most challenging listening environments like a car travelling on the motorway where the ambient noise is very high. I know that other elements I add to enhance the narrative won’t be heard in high ambient noise environments but those in a quieter space will be able to enjoy those details as well, but I know that they key elements will be audible for everyone.
Loudness range can also help here and you should consider how your project is going to be consumed and choose an appropriate loudness range.
As you plan your mix, consider the comfort zone. This has come out of all the listening tests that went into the development of the BS1770 loudness standards, which form the basis of delivery specs like the EBU R128 and ATSC A/85. What they found is that there is a zone, within which, consumers don’t feel they need to reach the remote control to adjust the volume. This comfort zone is between +3LU and -5LU around the target loudness and is a useful guide to consider for the short term meter. Because the research showed that if the loudness goes outside this comfort zone for a significant period of time, consumers will reach for the remote control and that defeats the object of this new loudness workflow.
I use colour banding to help, and when I am working on radio documentaries and podcasts I tend to work on a comfort zone of +2 to -3LU and so I set up the Nugen Audio VisLM to have colour bands so above +2LU it is red, between +2 and -3LU it is green and then below -3LU it is blue and this is all set up in the Options window in the Nugen VisLM loudness meter plug-in.
In the presets menu in VisLM I select the +9 Relative scale. This makes my target loudness 0LU which I much prefer to use.
As the example is a podcast I will change the offset to -16 as that is my chosen target loudness for content played on mobile devices, and ties in nicely with the AES recommendations.
Because I wouldn’t have a lot of low-level content I bring the bottom of the scale up to -39LU.
Now I am ready to create by colour bands. I prefer that the top band is red. Click on the colour block and choose a red, then adjust the threshold to +2.
Next the green zone, with a bottom threshold of -3. Set the next band to green from the colour palette and then adjust the threshold to -3LU.
There you have it, when I am mixing I aim to keep the key narrative elements inside my green zone and I usually end up with a Loudness Range of around 5 for this kind of content.
For drama, I would aim to work at the more normal comfort zone of +3 to -5LU. Consider splitting this expected zone into two shades of green, but ultimately, you choose what works best for you.
I find using the colour banding really helpful as I now only need to glance at the VisLM window to see how I am doing. But in reality, one of the easiest ways to produce loudness compliance mixes is to calibrate your monitors and then don’t adjust them. That way if it sounds too loud it is too loud and if it sounds too quiet it is too quiet.
Colour banding can also help with familiarity with a script, where because you know what is being said you can still hear and understand it. If I see my dialogue falling out of the comfort zone, I will review that section to make sure someone listening for the first time really will be able to understand what is being said.
Need To Mix Netflix Content? Check Out Our Exclusive Preview Of The New Version Of VisLM From Nugen Audio With Netflix Presets
Whilst at IBC 2018 in Amsterdam I was able to get an exclusive first look at the latest version of VisLM which now has new presets for the new Netflix delivery spec with a new loudness parameter, Dialogue LRA as well as new flexibility to simultaneously monitor multiple integrated measurements.
VisLM now has a new loudness parameter, Dialogue LRA as well as new flexibility to simultaneously monitor multiple integrated measurements all designed to be the first product to support the new Netflix delivery spec with dialog gating for dialog consistency as well as improved compliance alert indicators and support for SAWA (LEQm) as well as TASA.
The support of multi-channels up to 7.1.2 brings Nugen Audio firmly into the Dolby Atmos immersive workflow. The additional of the SAWA spec as well as TASA means that VisLM is also fully equipped for the film workflows as well as traditional broadcast and the new streaming services like Netflix.
Already having support for Dolby Dialog Intelligence has given them a head start to be able to support the new Netflix delivery spec and now to be able to measure and display the integrated loudness, full mix LRA, Dialog Loudness and Dialog LRA will make it so much easier to help mixers deliver content to the new Netflix spec and guidelines.
That’s Mine - What’s Yours?
So there you have it. That’s why VisLM from Nugen Audio is my ‘desert-idea’ plug-in. What’s yours?