maxmercy

The Low Frequency Content Thread (films, games, music, etc)

3,976 posts in this topic

Edit 4-8-14:  Updated measurements and PvA below.

WOTTTitleBlock-1.JPG

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WOTT4.JPG

WOTT5.JPG

 

Wrath of the Titans:

Level - 3 Stars (109.89dBHz)
Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz)
Dynamics - 4 Stars (26.9dB)
Execution - 3 Stars - They left almost 10dB on the table, and dynamics took a hit, first 3 star movie in that regard. Either this is a 'home version' mix, or just too much of the same bass. I liked the film, and Ares hammer is very well done, but I did notice it was missing something. While ULF was there, ULF is not the whole story. This Star Rating is debatable.

Overall - 3.75 Stars

Recommendation: Rent. This film is good, but I don't know how many times I can see it enough to own it.

JSS

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ALVHTitleBlock-1.JPG

ALVHPH.JPG

ALVHCh-3.JPG

ALVHCh10a.JPG

ALVHCh10b.JPG

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Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter:

Level - 3 Stars (109.88dB composite) 
Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz) 
Dynamics - 5 Stars (28.92dB)
Execution - 5 Stars (by poll)

Overall Rating - 4.5 Stars

Recommendation: Buy (by poll)

JSS

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As you can see, TIH and WotW are more similar than different, hence their overall rankings of 4.75 and 5 Stars, respectively.

 

JSS

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Green Lantern:

Level - 4 Stars (110.48dB composite)
Extension - 4 Stars (12Hz)
Dynamics - 4 Stars (26.07dB)
Execution - 3 Stars - Very repetitive bass throughout. Although the lantern constructs have nice slam and heft, they are the exact same sound. It gets old. Quick.

Overall - 3.75 Stars

Recommendation: A reluctant Rent. Fans of the comic book may like it. But this one is probably better left on the shelf.


JSS

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Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter: Level - 1 Star (253.9dBHz) I double checked this. BluRay, DTS-HDMA Audio. Extension - 3 Star (18Hz) The Average graph suffers from an overcorrection, as average level down low in freq was in the noise. Dynamics - 4 Star (26.6dB) Execution - 3 Stars - They left way too much on the table, nearly 10dB of 'headroom'. Overall Rating - 3 Stars Recommendation: Rent. This movie, while well done, is just not up to par with the big boys, esp. Since WotW is just a few posts above. JSS

 

Man, I have a problem with this. I have to get the BR and compare to the DVD. I mean, you have ROTF rated 5 stars for level and this one 1 star but in my system I have the exact opposite experience. If I don't bump the sub +6dB with ROTF, it's unbearably low bass content.

 

Both my experiences with ROTF and ALVH are on DVD, so I'm starting to suspect BR levels are vastly different, as in my DVD vs BR experience with Thor.

 

 

ThorDVDvsBR_zps591f5a55.jpg

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Bosso,

 

I really think you are onto something. The only thing I can't figure out is why? Why the level differences? I checked during playback, and no DRC was on (that I could see)......I double checked levels with known material.

 

At first I was suspecting 'rental' copy differences, but it may be something else.....I just can't figure why these folks would be doing something like this, throwing out 2 separate mixes for no reason, unless the theatrical mix somehow finds its way into one or the other, BD or DVD.....

 

The more this kind of stuff goes on, the more you see that mistakes (and sometimes careless ones at that) are often made by these 'professionals', whether due to pressure from above (directors, execs, bosses, etc) or otherwise.

 

JSS

 

I will get the DVD for ALVH next week to see what is going on.

 

PS - Now I see why I thought the ROTF screencaps were a little less than lively.....grrrr....

 

At least it is not as bad as music, where levels are even more all over the place....

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Interesting stuff about BR vs DVD levels. I only watch BR anymore so all of my impressions come from that. I watched WOTT once but I wasn't that impressed meanwhile everyone else is raving about it. Max your results seem to fall more in line with what I experienced. Good mix of effects with plenty of depth but could have used more level as it way softer than something like HTTYD or WOTW.

 

It really makes no sense to me why there are different mixes depending on format, region etc. there seems to be plenty of evidence that this is the case though.

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Thor DVD vs BluRay is a big difference. Right off the bat, everything is turned down 4dB due to Dialnorm. They are simply different mixes. Will post data later.

 

JSS

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OK, here's the data.

 

Thor BluRay - Level 269.5dBHz (5 Star), Dynamics 27.8dB

Thor DVD with Dialnorm - Level 259.2dBHz (1 Star), Dynamics 27.5dB

Thor DVD run at +4dBRef to account for Dialnorm - Level 267.18 (4 Star), Dynamics 27.5dB

 

They BluRay and DVD are3 closer to eachother when dialnorm is level-matched. But the BD has a different signature, most notably the stuff around 140Hz that simply does not exist on the DVD.

 

I check to make sure if any Dialnorm is applied in any film prior to recording data, as it shows up on my receiver's status display when the film starts.

 

As you can see, Dialnorm can make a BIG difference.

 

Black Hawk Down's BluRay defaults to Dolby Digital, with a -7dB dialnorm, neutering the track. The uncompressed PCM has no attenuation, and that is what I graphed...

 

Here's what I think:

 

The BluRay has the theatrical mix. The DVD has the 'nearfield' or 'home' mix, with Dialnorm attenuation added on top if it. I wish we could just get the theatrical mix and be done with it...

 

JSS

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The whole dialnorm business confuses me.

 

The general impression that I had was that dialnorm is there to 'normalize' the 'dialogue', i.e. DIALogue NORMalization. As I understood it, there's supposedly a flag from checking the average dialogue levels, and if it's softer than normal, or louder than normal, dialnorm is applied with say, a +4 dialnorm altering the main volume by 4db.

 

If this IS what happens, then why would a 4db dialnorm difference show an 8db difference in level when the dialnorm is compensated for?

 

 

Max

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Close. Dialnorm is something that authors use. It is a parameter set with a knob that comes set by Dolby at -27. When an author sets Dialnorm, they are basically saying that "in this soundtrack, dialogue is 27dB below the loudest sound possible (0dBFS)".

 

The Dialnorm knob goes from -1 to -31dB. Authors who want to maximize dynamic range will use the -31 value, giving them 31dB to play with above dialogue SPL.

 

When Dialnorm is set to -27dB (like most Dolby Digital content used to be on DVD), the author is saying that dialogue is mixed 27dB softer than the maximum allowable sound (0dBFS). To keep dialogue level consistent from show to show, Dolby will TURN DOWN the entire soundtrack by 4dB.

 

Of course there is a problem. If authors do not measure their material, they are at a loss as to where to set it, and since it came from Dolby set at -27, many authors would simply leave it there. The other thing that is counterintuitive is that as you 'turn the knob up' on Dialnorm, it turns the soundtrack down.....which could have led to some confusion early on.

 

With Thor, the difference in level between the 2 tracks is around 10dBHz. Playing the track back at +4dB, there is still a level difference, which means that the tracks are not equal to begin with. The DVD track has a different signature, ESP in the upper bass.

 

My guess is this means that the DVD track underwent remixing for the home, in which dynamic range was altered. After the remix, dialogue level was 'altered' and was not as soft compared to the loudest effects. The mixers did the right thing, and set the Dialnorm to -27dB. That means whether you play the BluRay or DVD, dialogue is at the same level, but in the DVD, effects are softer by about 4dB, for playback 'in the home'.

 

But you look at the graphs and say 'bullshit, when you turn up the DVD by 4dB, the low bass is almost identical'. That is because Dialnorm is set by an A-weighted SPL measurement. A-weighting does not look at low bass, it ignores it. You can see instantly in the graphs that the Thor BluRay has a lot more upper bass content compared to the DVD, hence the difference in measurement with A-weighting, and the subsequent Dialnorm adjustment. It looks like the mixers did the right thing. I just wish that there would be an option to get either the theatrical or the home mix.....

 

As an aside, ever wonder why trailers are so bass-oriented? Back in the day, a trailer was made for a movie called "Empire Strikes Back", the loudest trailer in history, IIRC. It was after this that trailers were limited in loudness, but that loudness is measured by - you guessed it - A weighted SPL meters. Since A weighting ignores bass, you get a very bass-laden trailer if the authors want it loud, to get your attention.

 

JSS

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Interesting explanation.

 

Everytime I encounter a dial-norm discussion, I merely gloss over it as it's not really compelling forum material to me. However, in this case I'm glad I read the above and I think I'll seek out more info so I can fully get a handle on industry trends etc.

 

What sucks is the film industry has dissed their music counterparts for less standardization in general.

 

Thanks for that

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Close. Dialnorm is something that authors use. It is a parameter set with a knob that comes set by Dolby at -27. When an author sets Dialnorm, they are basically saying that "in this soundtrack, dialogue is 27dB below the loudest sound possible (0dBFS)".

 

The Dialnorm knob goes from -1 to -31dB. Authors who want to maximize dynamic range will use the -31 value, giving them 31dB to play with above dialogue SPL.

 

When Dialnorm is set to -27dB (like most Dolby Digital content used to be on DVD), the author is saying that dialogue is mixed 27dB softer than the maximum allowable sound (0dBFS). To keep dialogue level consistent from show to show, Dolby will TURN DOWN the entire soundtrack by 4dB.

 

Of course there is a problem. If authors do not measure their material, they are at a loss as to where to set it, and since it came from Dolby set at -27, many authors would simply leave it there. The other thing that is counterintuitive is that as you 'turn the knob up' on Dialnorm, it turns the soundtrack down.....which could have led to some confusion early on.

 

With Thor, the difference in level between the 2 tracks is around 10dBHz. Playing the track back at +4dB, there is still a level difference, which means that the tracks are not equal to begin with. The DVD track has a different signature, ESP in the upper bass.

 

My guess is this means that the DVD track underwent remixing for the home, in which dynamic range was altered. After the remix, dialogue level was 'altered' and was not as soft compared to the loudest effects. The mixers did the right thing, and set the Dialnorm to -27dB. That means whether you play the BluRay or DVD, dialogue is at the same level, but in the DVD, effects are softer by about 4dB, for playback 'in the home'.

 

But you look at the graphs and say 'bullshit, when you turn up the DVD by 4dB, the low bass is almost identical'. That is because Dialnorm is set by an A-weighted SPL measurement. A-weighting does not look at low bass, it ignores it. You can see instantly in the graphs that the Thor BluRay has a lot more upper bass content compared to the DVD, hence the difference in measurement with A-weighting, and the subsequent Dialnorm adjustment. It looks like the mixers did the right thing. I just wish that there would be an option to get either the theatrical or the home mix.....

 

 

JSS

 

Let me try and clarify this.

 

First of... dialog norm does nothing to the dynamic range of the track...

 

Secondly, both DTS and Dolby have a dialog normalization feature in their codec.

 

The default value in the Dolby encoder is -27 (4 db attenuation) and it defaults to -31 in DTS encoders.

 

It isn't a measurement of the absolute level the dialog is in reference to digital zero.

 

In most cases, the average level of the dialog serves as the basis for how loud other things around it are, and is a good barometer of the average SPL level of the track over the period of it's running time.

 

It's not about keeping the dialog level consistent, but the overall measured value of the program (the dialog is just the barometer of what the rest of the track should be.)

 

It was initially conceived as a way to even out the volume swings in differing content, i.e. television shows, etc.

 

You are correct that you are supposed to run a DN measurement on the master after finished a project.. in reality, most authoring houses don't bother to do so.

 

Regardless, the DN value sets the attenuation value of the post decoded PCM.

 

Again.. it only attenuates the volume of the POST DECODED PCM at a fixed value.

 

It does nothing to the dynamic range of the track, and doesn't change the value of one track in relation to the other (i.e. lower the center channel...)

 

THX receivers compensate for the 4db drop so that 0 is 0.. on all other receivers you need to manually adjust for the offset... so if you see a value of -27, raise the volume knob 4db..

 

The dialog norm value also sets the base for the metadata for dynamic range compression. This means that if you decide to engage DRC/Midnight Mode/Late Night mode the metadata for such compression takes into account the average overall level... for this reason alone it is, IMO, more meaningful to actually measure it.

 

Most broadcasters have moved away from DN value requirements and are now requiring LEQ measurements to help them keep in line with the CALM act (you can google search if interested, but the FCC is now mandating that commercials and content be on more equal footing...)

 

LEQ measuring takes a look at the overall content level of the track over time (some broadcasters want the length of the show measured, some episodic want each "act" (8-12 minutes)) and gives you a measurement...

 

For example, a certain network I've done a bit of work for now requires the LEQ A measurement to be -24 +/- 1db, with no absolute peaks above -1dbFS...

 

Other networks are more stringent, but thats fairly common..

 

To reach that target, you usually must lower your SPL reference well below theatrical.. when mixing for broadcast, I set the level at 78 or 79db SPL... that leaves me with 7-9 db less top end compared to film.

 

Dialog norm gathering is run either in real time or using newer faster than real time tools (see Dolby Media Meter.)

 

If a company is going to the trouble of spending the money for a near field/home theater mix, in my experience they will use it for all authoring.. not sure about Thor or other titles you are seeing difference on... the DD encoder does allow for filtering of the LFE, and has other parameters that are adjustable, but again, just to be clear, DN doesn't change the dynamic range of the track.

 

As an aside, ever wonder why trailers are so bass-oriented? Back in the day, a trailer was made for a movie called "Empire Strikes Back", the loudest trailer in history, IIRC. It was after this that trailers were limited in loudness, but that loudness is measured by - you guessed it - A weighted SPL meters. Since A weighting ignores bass, you get a very bass-laden trailer if the authors want it loud, to get your attention.

 

Just like DN, we don't use SPL meters to measure loudness for trailers..

 

The reason trailers today are so bass heavy is indeed because LEQ A measurements are skewed based on frequency, and low end content doesn't affect the reading as much as mid range frequencies.

 

After the industry moved to digital 5.1 in the early 90's, the trailer loudness wars erupted, and TASA was born.

 

The MPAA adopted the TASA specs and trailers will not be approved by the MPAA (and given the ubiquitous green band) unless they have a measured LEQ A of 85 or less.. which is still loud (too loud IMO.. it should be 83, but that's another topic..)

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FilmMixer,

 

Thanks for chiming in. I base most of what I know about Dialnorm off of this article:

 

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_7_2/feature-article-dialog-normalization-6-2000.html

 

So my knowledge is obviously limited going by the date of he article...

 

I account for Dialnorm in all my charts, so every film is on a level playing field. I was just wondering if some folks have gotten a less than impressive presentation due to Dialnorm attenuation that people were not aware of, as I first did when I compared the Revenge of the Fallen regular vs big screen editions on BluRay. A -4dB attenuation overall is pretty significant when measured in dBHz over 4 octaves...

 

My main question is why the obvious differences between mixes? It seems odd that one format would get a different mix over another....I remember you saying that most films have the theatrical mix on the disc. Is there a trend developing otherwise?

 

I guess I should have said trailers are measured with A-weighting and left off the SPL meter part, but the concept is the same, it is a filtered measurement to measure the frequencies we are most sensitive to in lieu of others....

 

I have noted on several films that they 'left 7-10dB on the table'. Maybe the remix was for broadcast TV?

 

 

JSS

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Hey Marc, welcome to the thread. As always, appreciate the industry insider info.

 

JSS,

One of the things I was wondering about was not just the difference between your measurements of the Thor BD and DVD tracks, but the difference between the DVD tracks with and without dialnorm compensation. I was wondering why a 4db compensation for dialnorm resulted in an 8db difference in the measurements?

 

 

Max

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Max,

 

It is because of how Level is calculated. The Level for a film is calculated on this thread by adding both the peak and average areas under the graph. This gives weight to the average level while giving a little more importance to peak levels, and singular but powerful effects.

 

So, if Thor with dialnorm is 4dB low in Peak, and 4dB low in average, when added, they add up to 8dB total difference.

 

Running the data on ALVH DVD.....will post soon. There is a difference.

 

JSS

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Bosso,

 

Can you tell me more about your DVD? I got mine from Redbox, and my BD from Netflix. Both appear to be Rental copies without many special features.

 

Here's the data:

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter DVD

 

Level - 1 Star (259.43dBHz)

Extension - 4 Stars (15Hz) The BluRay ALVH was also double checked, and it does extend to 14hz on Avg graph, so it was changed as well.

Dynamics - 4 Stars (26.6dB)

Execution - 4 Stars A bit more level in this mix, otherwise quite the same.

 

Overall - 3.25 Stars, same as the BluRay.

 

Here's a comparo (attached): Looks like a 3-4dB level difference overall. Very similar otherwise.

 

JSS

post-20-0-46551900-1353978450_thumb.png

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Films coming up to be measured:

 

Star Wars Saga BluRay, maybe comparos w/ DVDs

LOTR Extended Editions BluRay

Flight of the Phoenix

How to Train Your Dragon

Prometheus

Speed Racer

SuckerPunch

Alien vs Predator

The Dark Knight Rises

 

Any other requests? Matrix Trilogy?

 

After this, I am just gonna do new releases. I believe that the databass has a good base of data for comparison of new films.

 

JSS

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Matrix Trilogy, definitely.

 

Superman Returns

Knowing

The Day After Tomorrow

Running Scared (dvd)

Pearl Harbor

Titan A.E. (dvd)

The Haunting (DTS dvd)

LOTR Theatrical (to compare to EE)

Live Free Or Die Hard

Inception

Cloverfield

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