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Mixing music for TV. Level confusion (again).
Old 2nd September 2020
  #1
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Mixing music for TV. Level confusion (again).

I usually do music mixes for CD or streaming. I get how they work level-wise, and the differences.

Now I have a music track to mix for TV (Europe), where the standard is -23 LUFS. This is a basic track, acoustic guitars, piano, bass, a single vocal. But even when I set that up with light compression on individual channels, but no master limiting, if I peak around -1 (dBFS), my LUFS is already around -18.

I don't get how to do a mix and meet these specs. Surely I do a mix that works, not too compressed, then effectively take a streaming version (LUFS -14) and back it off 10 db or so.

What am I missing here?
Old 2nd September 2020
  #2
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NReichman's Avatar
 

The only thing you're missing is that it's perfectly acceptable for a TV mix to have 5 or 6db of unused headroom. So lower your overall mix to -23LUFS, and if that means your peak is -6, that's fine. In fact good, because you won't suffer additional needless compression further down the broadcast chain.

Are you delivering the final mix that will be broadcast, or are you sending this music to a re-recording mixer? If it's the latter, let them worry about spec and send your -18LUFS mix.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #3
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Thanks, that simple advice is really helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NReichman View Post
Are you delivering the final mix that will be broadcast, or are you sending this music to a re-recording mixer? If it's the latter, let them worry about spec and send your -18LUFS mix.
This is perhaps where the issue is coming from. In the past, I've just done a not-too-compressed music mix and sent to the post house, and they've done what's needed. But this job is a title track, so in theory, no re-recording or post mixing required, and the video house are querying my levels on the first version I sent through.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #4
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NReichman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bing81 View Post
This is perhaps where the issue is coming from. In the past, I've just done a not-too-compressed music mix and sent to the post house, and they've done what's needed. But this job is a title track, so in theory, no re-recording or post mixing required, and the video house are querying my levels on the first version I sent through.
In that case, lower the mix to match spec and send it on. Not to obsess, but a lot of music mixers I know aren't accustomed to mixing at calibrated monitoring levels. If you aren't already doing this, try it out. You'll soon discover that you can hit spec with your ears, and it will make you more confident when mixing.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing81 View Post
the video house are querying my levels on the first version I sent through.
What was their "query" more specifically?

Hate to say it, but there's been more than a few times where comments coming from a 'video house' have been somewhat... odd...

I agree with Neil of course.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #6
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

I send my tv music mixes in at between - 14 and - 16 lufs and let my publishers and editors turn it up or down as necessary. What I mostly focus on is dynamic range (crest factor) at somewhere between 5 and 10 dB, and keeping a good amount of headroom so they can do additional mastering.

One of my clients insists on stems, so mastering isn’t really an issue in that case.

Keep in mind, that level for tv, -23, is for the entire television mix, not the individual elements - anything that’s in the show can be brought up or down accordingly.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #7
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Mix and master how you would do for a single release. Then simply normalize this mix to -23LUFS for the video house.
Chances are high that the mix will be used for a music-only release too, for that use the normal master.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #8
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Leverson's Avatar
As the poster above mentioned, loudness is averaged over the course of a full program, not strictly scene by scene or shot by shot. Often things like opening title music sequences will play a little bit louder, which is fine, as it'll be offset by quieter parts elsewhere in the program to average out.

If you deliver a little loud that is fine, it'll get turned down by the mixer. But it's always a tragedy when tracks come in slammed to the gills because if I have to turn something down -15 db or more, that is a ton of headroom that gets wasted, and dynamics that aren't being utilized properly. Film and TV are all about dynamic range, so much more than music or internet content. It's quite wonderful once you get used to it

So overall, don't sweat it if your cue isn't exactly on the average, a little louder won't hurt anything, as long as it is within reason, and you are using your dynamic range well.

Lastly, one thing that is always important to bring up to music mixers who may not have a lot of film experience, is make sure you organize your session so that stems can be made from it that equal the full mix when summed. Often the pure music workflow is a little different where you have a lot of master buss compression to add 'glue' or flavor or processing. But when you output your stems if they don't equal the full mix when summed together it's a problem. So make sure you set your bussing up in ways where you are able to deliver basic food-group stems and that you are happy with how they sum to equal the full mix when played together. Especially if your track has vocals, which often times are needed to be split out into optional stems for foreign dubbing requirements. Just as a general FYI
Old 2nd September 2020
  #9
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TVPostSound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
Mix and master how you would do for a single release.
NO NO NO!!
Leave headroom, Im sick of music being sent to me without dynamic range.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
NO NO NO!!
Leave headroom, Im sick of music being sent to me without dynamic range.
I feel the same about music that is part of a whole picture soundtrack.
The OP mentioned that this piece is the title track without any re-recording needs on this.
As an artist I’d want this to reflect my single release master.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
NO NO NO!!
Leave headroom, Im sick of music being sent to me without dynamic range.
Well, headroom and dynamic range aren't the same thing.

But regardless, I agree with 'Kosmo' and the rest regarding delivering a particular level for this type of purpose.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #12
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TVPostSound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Well, headroom and dynamic range aren't the same thing.

But regardless, I agree with 'Kosmo' and the rest regarding delivering a particular level for this type of purpose.
If there no headroom, theres obviously no dynamic range.

Ill get a piece of music slamming at -1, yeah thats no headroom.
Lower it to -30 to play under dialog, that there is no dynamic range!!

In this instance the two are relative to each other.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #13
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
... Im sick of music being sent to me without dynamic range.
If it's the opening and/or end title and not being mixed with other elements, a bit of 2-bus compression is fine. But if it has to work with dialogue and effects, don't bus-compress it at all -- if you do it'll represent in the mix as a murky moosh.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
If there no headroom, theres obviously no dynamic range.
I suppose this doesn't really matter as far as this topic goes, but since you replied to my reply and since I just had a bit of coffee;

In music dynamic range should be the range of levels that a piece of music covers, from the noise floor or lowest level music to the maximum loudness of the piece of music itself. Lowering the absolute peak while maintaining the lowest level reduces the dynamic range of the music.

"Headroom" doesn't really apply to a piece of music but rather a signal within a system. If you have nominal operating level you have headroom from there to the onset of distortion.

If a piece of music has a peak at -10dBFS you can say that there's a headroom of 10dB between the peak and digital distortion (0dBFS).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
Ill get a piece of music slamming at -1, yeah thats no headroom.
Lower it to -30 to play under dialog, that there is no dynamic range!!

In this instance the two are relative to each other.
But when you said "Leave headroom," it sounded like you wanted space between the peak of music and 0dBFS, but that doesn't seem to work with "Im sick of music being sent to me without dynamic range."

By definition if music covers -infinity to -1dBFS and you lower it 30dB to get some headroom back then you've lowered the dynamic range of the music from -infinity to -30dBFS, no?

That's really all I was pointing out.

Maybe this is meaningless semantics, but I thought it was a bit confusing.
Old 2nd September 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If it's the opening and/or end title and not being mixed with other elements, a bit of 2-bus compression is fine. But if it has to work with dialogue and effects, don't bus-compress it at all -- if you do it'll represent in the mix as a murky moosh.
I really think this all depends on what type of music it is and what type of programming it is.

For some types of program music really works better having a far narrower dynamic range than some other type of program. I've found that quite dynamic music tends to be a bit more work sometimes simply because the wrong thing may be poking out whereas had the piece been "flatter" it'd have sat more easily in the mix.

Or to put it differently: Sometimes for some TV shows music needs to be felt and fill the soundscape. With music that's too dynamic the only thing that may come through are components of music that will fight with dialog before the music as a whole is loud enough to be felt the right way, so then we're stuck having to control dynamics of the music track doing quick-mastering in the re-recording session rather than just ride the level.

Obviously if this was a $180m mega movie it'd be different.
Old 3rd September 2020
  #16
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
Mix and master how you would do for a single release. Then simply normalize this mix to -23LUFS for the video house.
.
Having worked at a full service post house, which im guessing like whom the OP is delivering to , This comment is the most spot on.

Bascially dont sweat it/overthink it.
Old 3rd September 2020
  #17
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NReichman View Post
In that case, lower the mix to match spec and send it on. Not to obsess, but a lot of music mixers I know aren't accustomed to mixing at calibrated monitoring levels. If you aren't already doing this, try it out. You'll soon discover that you can hit spec with your ears, and it will make you more confident when mixing.
And this...
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