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Poll about Cinema mixing levels Dynamics Plugins
Old 26th January 2017
  #91
pity the poll is closed, i would support the 5,5 mixing levels. and im not the hot mixer. i like reasonably bold mixes. rogue one in imax was too much for me. but i ll tell you a story how i come to mixing at 5,5. maybe it helps to understand the problem here.

there was a time, when i was mixing my first cinema feature. 2009 i think. fader was set to 6 (edited - corrected from 7) and i liked what we have done. then dolby consultant comes to check if the sound is right. i thought we will just see the film and he will tell us if we are on right volume, and if everything sound related is within dolby parameters. that would be normal procedure. BUT. my re-recording mixer said to me: be prepared, it will be too loud during mastering. we have been mixing at 6, because cinema playback levels are set to 6, but dolby consultant only accepts 7, which seems correct to me. i didnt understand whats going on, i was too unexperienced, so i say ok, i ll trust you. dolby consultant set volume to 7 and measure the room, so he could quickly verify all is set properly. it was. we see the movie. it was quite loud for me, and i ll tell you this. IF I AM DOLBY CONSULTANT I WOULD NEVER ALLOW FILM MIXED HOT LIKE THAT TO PASS ANY DOLBY STANDARDS. real dolby consultant just say, guys, you are little louder than you should be, are you aware of it, and we were supposed to say yes. and thats it. strange..

i was curious and went to some cinemas to check, what we have done. in every cinema the levels were so quiet, even i couldnt understand the lines!! and whats more, too many cinemas simply refuses to turn up the volume, because thay were too afraid. director receives complaints from all around the country and i really couldnt find an answer for him. it was total failure. my failure.

thanks god, playback level was the only problem and director liked my work, so i get second chance. and third and so on.. i asked myself, how it is, that every major movie is mixed at 7 (as stated) playing back at 7 and all sounded good, and only mine was playing at 5 with projectionists in panic fear of rising the volume even 0,5 higher????? THIS DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME. if american movies are mixed at 7 and playing back at 5 they should be even more quiet than my first movies!! lets be honest for a while. somebody is lying here, and its not me.. BUT when i playback dvds and blurays, there seems to be enough headroom, so i suppose, they are really mixing at 7 everywhere in US. they are profesionals, they should be mixing at 7. one possible explanation is, they are mixing at 7, but transposing the cinema mix to 5,5 during mastering. just like my first mixer did it. almost 90% of features in our cinemas are american. and im tired of chasing american levels.. now i mix at 5,5, master at 5,5 and its playing back at 4,5 to 5,5, but mostly 5,something. this way i can make my mix most pleasing to ears and most people (including directors and producers) are happy after seeing my movie in cinema. i repeat, im not the loudest mixer i like balance...

i can managed to sound good in average cinema at 5,5, i can deal with compressors and limiters to achieve what i need to achieve and dont hurt the sound much. i can mix responsibly at 5,5. i have to do it, because PEOPLE IN CINEMA DONT HAVE REMOTES. they have them at home. they can play it as they want at home. but not in cinema. and im mixing my movies for people. im not happy about it, but its the most valid solution for now.


ok, now what? i really dont get it, why it is so hard to find a solution. we can do maths, we can measure, we have scales, there are well known health standards.. we know how many decibels we are off, if we were mixing at 4,5 compared to 7.. with r128 we get again little closer to percieved loudness.. even more, we can communicate internationally these days and share our ideas, make polls.. ideal constellation for ideal solution to be made.. as i see it, we only need to find a way how to set movie playback properly no matter how hot it is mixed. r128 is the right way i think. maybe i see it too simple, but i think, we only need to take care about directors/producers abusing the headroom. now only -1dbfs true peak is the limit.. we all know human ear can handle lots of loudness, but not for a long time. spikes at 3khz are more damaging than 30hz.. we all know that! so where is the problem??

until that, i was upset before, but with 5,5 i found my inner peace..

happy mixing!

Last edited by svmn; 26th January 2017 at 02:38 PM.. Reason: i messed up one important number, sorry
Old 1st February 2017
  #92
Gear Addict
 
rcutz's Avatar
Hi guys, Resolution Magazine has a nice text about this subject in his current issue:

https://www.resolutionmag.com/wp-con...2016_V15.8.pdf

Sweet Spot Article by Phillip Newell.
Old 3rd February 2017
  #93
Lives for gear
 

Theatres at Santa Monica Place play Trailers at 3.5. Movies at 6. No Ads (even though ironically that's what I'm screening).
Old 5th February 2017
  #94
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by svmn View Post
[1] BUT when i playback dvds and blurays, there seems to be enough headroom, so i suppose, they are really mixing at 7 everywhere in US.
[2] they are profesionals, they should be mixing at 7. one possible explanation is, they are mixing at 7, but transposing the cinema mix to 5,5 during mastering.
1. Maybe the DVDs and BluRays are not the original theatrical mix but have been re-versioned?

2. I don't think that's the explanation. I have two more likely theories: A. They're mixing on bigger mix stages therefore 85dB doesn't sound as loud? (When I say bigger, I don't mean a small mix room vs proper theatrical dub stage but proper theatrical dub stage vs even bigger theatrical dub stage). B. They're just making very loud mixes. In my experience (and as an ungainly generalisation), American's do often seem to talk louder (in general conversation) IRL than most other nations. Or, maybe it's a combination of both A and B?

G
Old 5th February 2017
  #95
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ggegan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregorioM View Post
1. Maybe the DVDs and BluRays are not the original theatrical mix but have been re-versioned?

2. I don't think that's the explanation. I have two more likely theories: A. They're mixing on bigger mix stages therefore 85dB doesn't sound as loud? (When I say bigger, I don't mean a small mix room vs proper theatrical dub stage but proper theatrical dub stage vs even bigger theatrical dub stage). B. They're just making very loud mixes. In my experience (and as an ungainly generalisation), American's do often seem to talk louder (in general conversation) IRL than most other nations. Or, maybe it's a combination of both A and B?

G
I've never been on a dub stage of any size in LA that didn't calibrate at 85dBSPL for features, and I've been on a lot of them.

Years ago I was mixing a feature on a small TV stage at Skywalker South and we thought that the size of the room might be causing us to mix the show lower than on a large stage, so we asked the Dolby rep to calibrate at 83dbSPL to compensate. The response was ABSOLUTELY NOT, print master must be at 85 or Dolby won't approve it.

As it turned out, it wasn't the dialog that was too low it was the low level sounds and the really loud sounds that felt laid back in a theater. The dialog was fine. That's the difference in dynamics in small and large rooms. The solution is to mix theatrical features on bonafied feature stages that are closer to the size of the venues that will be exhibiting the films.

In the USA at least the big budget films that tend to have longer runs in theaters as their primary venue are being mixed on large stages for the most part. The smaller budget films are often being mixed on smaller stages, and these days they tend to be viewed primarily streamed to homes rather than on the big screen, so I would say that a smaller stage that is more appropriate for TV mixing is a better option, as is working at a reduced monitor level like one would for a TV mix. The critical issue is what venue are you mixing for.

The problem is that a lot of directors are not being realistic about the viewing prospects for their films. They will swear up and down that they are making a "Theatrical Feature", and want the mix to reflect that, even though they can't afford to mix on an actual theatrical feature stage, but the reality is often that, in spite of their claims, they are actually making a film that will primarily be streamed to home theaters.

Last edited by ggegan; 6th February 2017 at 06:42 PM..
Old 5th February 2017
  #96
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post

The problem is that a lot of directors are not being realistic about the viewing prospects for their films. They will swear up and down that they are making a "Theatrical Feature", and want the mix to reflect that, even though they can't afford to mix on an actual theatrical feature stage, but the reality is often that, in spite of their claims, they are actually making a film that will primarily be streamed to home theaters.


And this is what makes it really really difficult. And there's no happy medium as one will suffer (DVD/Blu Ray) or Theater. One of the most difficult conundrums for mixers.
Old 6th February 2017
  #97
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDDP View Post
And this is what makes it really really difficult. And there's no happy medium as one will suffer (DVD/Blu Ray) or Theater. One of the most difficult conundrums for mixers.
I always do a theatrical mix, and then a mastering session for Home Cinema releases (DVD, Blu ray) because the dynamic range of cinema is incompatible with home viewing (except for the 0.00001% of people who have a very very high end HT room).
Old 6th February 2017
  #98
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ggegan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
I always do a theatrical mix, and then a mastering session for Home Cinema releases (DVD, Blu ray) because the dynamic range of cinema is incompatible with home viewing (except for the 0.00001% of people who have a very very high end HT room).
Of course, but what happens here in LA is that you spend 2 or more weeks doing the theatrical mix and then the home theater mix is handed over to someone else to do in one day working from the stems, so the version most people will see is a quickie compromise. The home theater mix is going to be so much better if I am mixing for that version in the first place.
Old 7th February 2017
  #99
funny thing happened to me. long story short, somebody lowered volume of my last full future movie (without my knowledge) during creation of dcp. so in cinemas it plays good at 7, not 5,5 as intended. yes it was mixed at 5,5 at VERY proper mix theatre, calibrated, expensive and bigger than average movie theater.

i got few phone calls from director (he likes to travel with his films and discuss) complaining he always has to stand up and go to argue about playing back at higher volume. he was at dub stage, he knows, how it should sound. i go check it for myself, and he was right. now think. if cinemas would play it correctly, it would sound good, nobody complains and i would never find out my sound was forced to be played at 7. and i would have no hesitation to mix at 7, since it would not get any sense to mix without headroom. its so easy, but mixed at 7, its playing too quiet even, when there is director present!

another long story short. i worked for powerful producer last year and he wants sound delivered at 4,5! his argument was, that every cinema is playing back at 4,5 in his country. (and it seems right, when we go checking it for ourselves) we couldnt do anything about it, as he was very strict and we wanted our money for our work. im sure, if we deliver at 5,5 he would take our mix to another studio and make it 4,5. (he got 4,8 from us im smiling, but what can i do? its so bad...

think twice. if volume change can happen after mastering process without telling anyone, are you guys sure, that its not happening to you?

---
i dont know how this sounds to you, im not native english speaker, but it should sound as a "call for help"
Old 28th April 2017
  #100
Hey guys,
here is a view of the results of the poll. Sorry it took so long to post. I'll be posting an analysis soon.
Old 28th April 2017
  #101
Deleted User
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
Is it possible to view the results without logging in? Perhaps a PDF?

I am not in possession of a Google account.
Old 28th April 2017
  #102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
Is it possible to view the results without logging in? Perhaps a PDF?

I am not in possession of a Google account.
Sorry, I messed up the sharing settings. It should be good to go now.
Old 29th April 2017
  #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
Sorry, I messed up the sharing settings. It should be good to go now.
Thank you.
Old 29th April 2017
  #104
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
Is it possible to view the results without logging in? Perhaps a PDF?

I am not in possession of a Google account.
Since this is a survey about **theatrical** mixing levels I'm a bit surprised that 50% of the people mix with studio soft dome tweeter speakers and 40% mix in very small rooms (120qm). Not that soft dome tweeters are bad but I've never seen any soft dome tweeter monitors in a theatrical mixing theatre.

I wonder what to make of the survey with this in mind. Does it really represent the world of theatrical mixing?

I wonder what the result is if you only look at the data that the people mixing on theatrical monitoring and theatrical room size entered...

Last edited by apple-q; 30th April 2017 at 12:34 PM..
Old 30th April 2017
  #105
Gear Maniac
 
Farhoof's Avatar
 

Look no further, the result form actually allows you to filter exactly that.

Selecting cinema/theatrical as expertise, ignoring the 2 smallest rooms and using only horn/meyer systems;

46.1% is mixing at 85.
BUT when selecting only the USA it's 86.4% (22 entries when filtered like this)
UK = 66.7% (6 entries)
France = 30% (10 entries)
Germany = 25% (8 entries)
To get more results from other countries you'd have to include the 2 smallest rooms.

My conclusion based on this survey: Hollywood is actually still mixing at 85 (at least in properly sized rooms).
Most of the UK too. The rest of Europe is generally mixing at a lower level. With the smaller rooms included, the percentage even falls down below 15% mixing at 85 (excluding USA and UK), but the main reason is still "Worried about playback levels in Cinemas". (without the smaller rooms it's only 17.1% so it's not an issue of room size I guess)
Old 30th April 2017
  #106
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farhoof View Post
Look no further, the result form actually allows you to filter exactly that.

Selecting cinema/theatrical as expertise, ignoring the 2 smallest rooms and using only horn/meyer systems;
Ah, thanks. Didn't see that. The page doesn't scale in Safari so it stays quite narrow so that the element are quite squashed even when set to full-screen.

But I see what you mean. Thanks.
Old 1st May 2017
  #107
Gear Addict
 
Leverson's Avatar
Steven, thank you for taking the time to make this poll and promote it and get so much data from mixers everywhere. I think it is fascinating to look at the charts and numbers, and to keep the theatrical loudness conversation current. Thanks for putting so much time and energy into this.
Old 12th July 2017
  #108
Here is the document with the survey results. As promised it will be crossposted on all the forums where the survey was posted.
ProTools Expert will also be posting about it in the upcoming blog post about Loudness.
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