A Proposal for a Standard to Improve Soundtrack Dynamic Range and Dialog Clarity for Better Enjoyment of Digital Cinema
Date & Time
Monday, October 24, 2022, 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Buck Moore
What Goes Up, Must Come Down? In the age of digital cinema, it is quite clear how the modern playback systems can accommodate very dynamic soundtracks, and print masters can be mixed from whisper to explosion for the 'expected' enjoyment of the cinema audience. Except, many people do not enjoy being 'blown out the back of the cinema' with such huge dynamic audio.

Using properly processed dialog as the main soundtrack reference (aka the 'anchor element'), at levels between -27 and -30LUFS, and limiting loud sound effects to -2dBFS, it is possible to have our digital audio cake and eat it, too, allowing the cinema audience to experience clarity of dialog, above the 'popcorn noise', while being exposed to acceptable peaks, resulting in a much better digital cinema experience, without ruining the director's, or sound designer's, creative vision.

With a depth of research and development dating back to 1998, a sound design process has been developed which could result in shift from excessively loud sound effects (and often, music), to a more comfortable, yet effective & enjoyable digital cinema soundtrack.

Much like the modern trend of song mastering to fit with a 5dBFS dynamic window, often to the detriment of the quality, the opposite is often true with modern film sound mixing. With the use of 'sound maps' to serve as templates for emerging sound mixers, and a proven dialog process (an effective combination of careful EQ, modest compression and selective volume tweaks, as presented to the AES, Toronto Chapter in 2016 & 2017), a new mixing methodology has emerged with some impressive results, I look forward to sharing my process (The D-Curve) and mixing concepts (Sound Design Maps for film & TV).
Location Name
Salon 1
Take-Aways from this Presentation
Emerging film sound mixers, as well as intermediate mixers, will learn a simple process for getting better sound mixes with reasonable dynamic range, and learn the true differences between commercial TV DR and film DR. Seasoned mixers may find some of the material interesting and worthy of consideration. Years of soundtrack measurement data will be shared as well as audio comparisons between original and processed soundtracks, from stems to print masters. In the end, everyone will learn the challenges and some solutions for the better enjoyment of digital cinema.