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TOPIC: Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files

Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 12 Jul 2015 08:32 #66401

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As a FCPX and LPX editor I produce a lot of podcasts and videocasts and I am finding the LUFS and US CALM Act loudness standards to be of great concern.

www.tcelectronic.com/loudness/broadcast-standards/

www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/loud-commercials

Personally I think these standards are a good idea. What I am concerned about is the issues editors have to go through to create audio and video files that conform to the standards. These standards are good to prevent the loudness levels of broadcast, podcast and videocast from being vastly different. The proposed standard for “moble” devices (-16) is louder than traditional home devices (-23) because of the environments they are used in and the technology used to build the devices, which I think is logical.

Some of you may already know about the tools made by companies like Auphonic, tc electronic and Wave.


auphonic.com/blog/2011/07/25/loudness-no...ts-and-speech-audio/

www.tcelectronic.com/lm6-plug-in/

www.waves.com/plugins/wlm-loudness-meter...us-quick-start-guide


I am wondering what everyone here thinks Apple is doing to make FCPX and LPX an easy tool to use to insure that files created in them are ready to match these loudness standards.

Apple has taken steps to make FCPX a lot more usable for creating MXF files ( support.apple.com/en-ap/HT204322
) and this opened a lot of doors for FCPX use. However, I think I am correct, but neither FCPX nor LPX can easily create LUFS or CALM standard files as easily as Adobe Audition (Please see the following Youtube link how easy it is for files created in Audition compliant with the standards:
) .

Yes, there are tools available to help format files to these loudness standards. However, some of these tools cost half or more than the price of FCPX and LPX themselves. Sure, by following a list of timely steps, LUFS and CALM Act standard files can be created after they are edited in FCPX and mastered in LPX, but should this type of creation tool be built-in? Apple made MXF creatable in FCPX. Why not make LUFS and CALM Act compliant files creatable within these programs? I hope Apple is taking steps to make it easy to create compliant LUFS and CALM Act files within their media creation programs.

I have let Apple know my personal views on this topic. I would like to know what some of you think about this topic and learn how you are making your creations compliant with these standards.

Thanks!
LLAP,
James
Taipei, Taiwan

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 12 Jul 2015 15:43 #66406

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First, the standards don't cover anything but commercial broadcast programming, not podcasts or Internet content. Second, if you don't let any of your audio clip, keep it all below -3db, you're safe.

The "proposed" standards for mobile devices, IMHO, is simply ridiculous and should be scraped. There's no mobile device standards about anything, not even the codecs used to deliver at this point. To me, they're putting the cart before the horse.

There are broadcasters using all sorts of NLE's, including FCPX, and few of them are using any built-in broadcast audio regulation filter of any sort. Again, keep it below -3db, you're safe. The loudness thing, IMHO again, is overblown. A good idea, but I think some folks obsess with it way too much, and it has no business being a web podcast standard. Just my two cents.

But an interesting subject, none the less.

AND, it would be nice to see some of these standards thrown in to Compressor's abilities and presets. Considering closed caption is now the law in the US, where is that ability in FCPX?

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Last edit: by BenB.

Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 12 Jul 2015 21:16 #66411

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Thanks Ben!

Some kind of " standard " is needed to keep a comfort listening level. The CALM Act is in effect at this moment (Dec 13th 2012). As for "mobile" devices, there isn't a set standard yet. There is only a "recommended" LUFS limit proposed which is based on the tech these devices use and the condition they are most likely to be used in. The ITU-R standard is making headway in Europe and some form of agreement will be made on the final set standard. I just wish FCPX and LPX could make it easy for us to be compliant without adding a load to our workflows.

As far as there being a podcast standard, I also see it useful in this area. This would allow for levelled loudness levels across all "properly" produced programs. It would be nice to visit Youtube, etc.. and view content that have nearly the same levels. I am sure some of us have come across content with good sound levels followed by another piece of content where the speaker's volume is so low that you have to raise the volume very high to hear them. Then, after doing so, the volume of any following media blows your ears off.

Ha, just a thought. Thanks!
LLAP,
James
Taipei, Taiwan

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 12 Jul 2015 23:43 #66416

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For the web, levels are less of an issue, but of course, different platforms have different standards. So a mix that's good for the web is different from theatrical and different from broadcast. I disagree that running a mix at -3 is OK for broadcast. It isn't and if you want to be loudness-compliant, then the mix will typically be more in the range of under -12. Of course, in the real-world, some broadcasters and networks are more sticklers for specs than others. Don't assume you can fly by without being compliant and able to prove it.

Right now there are three ways to be loudness compliant - 1) real-time hardware metering, 2) real-time software plug-in, and 3) non-real-time analysis and processing. With FCP X, option 1 is fine and in theory option 3 would be possible. However, the main company offering roundtripping to analyze and "fix" your mix is iZotope with their RX Loudness Control. It is currently only available for Avid (MC and PT) and Adobe. There's also a good set of tools from Nugen Audio. In theory these could be made to work with FCP X, but currently they don't have a version for it. However, you could still export a mix, use any number of tools to analyze and make the mix compliant and then import that processed mix back into X as your main track.

The trouble with option 2 and FCP X is that there is no bussing structure. In Premiere Pro CC you have the RADAR meter, which you can put on the master bus. While monitoring RADAR, you can interactively mix your tracks before they hit the master bus and thus get real-time results. In FCP X, you could only do this if you created a compound clip out of your mix. Unfortunately this would not permit interactive mixing while also monitoring the loudness meter plug-in. Hopefully Apple will evenly fix the mix bussing issue in some way.

As far as Logic X Pro, the structure is there and you can add plug-ins in the same way as other DAWs. It's just a matter of finding the right plug-in at the price that matches your budget. And yes, Apple should build these functions into FCP X and LPX. Essentially it's the audio equivalent of broadcast safe filters for video.

- Oliver

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Last edit: by Oliver Peters. Reason: additional input

Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 14 Jul 2015 18:26 #66481

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Oliver Peters wrote: For the web, levels are less of an issue, but of course, different platforms have different standards. So a mix that's good for the web is different from theatrical and different from broadcast. I disagree that running a mix at -3 is OK for broadcast. I think the proposed level is -23. I'm finding that a lot of please don't like talking about loudness standards and regulations . It isn't and if you want to be loudness-compliant, then the mix will typically be more in the range of under -12. Of course, in the real-world, some broadcasters and networks are more sticklers for specs than others. Don't assume you can fly by without being compliant and able to prove it.


I think the proposed level is -23. I'm finding that a lot of people don't like talking about loudness standards and regulations . However, I get your point. I also understand the points you raised about how this is done in Premiere Pro CC and buss controls.

As far as Logic X Pro, the structure is there and you can add plug-ins in the same way as other DAWs. It's just a matter of finding the right plug-in at the price that matches your budget. And yes, Apple should build these functions into FCP X and LPX. Essentially it's the audio equivalent of broadcast safe filters for video.


That is my main point. It would be a good move for this type of tool to be built in BOTH FCPX and Logic Pro X. Thanks for your input Oliver.
LLAP,
James
Taipei, Taiwan

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 14 Jul 2015 22:31 #66483

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wdevn,

Your reply got intermixed with my quote, so it's a bit hard to follow. Maybe this is what you meant, but it seems that you are confusing a loudness level of -23 with a VU meter reading inside FCPX or PProCC of -3 or -12 or whatever. When I said -12, I was talking about the db reading you get on the FCPX VU meters. That's a completely different reading than would be -12 as a loudness measurement. There is no direct correlation between the two. I merely used the -12 figure as a ballpark that gets you close to an acceptable loudness level, in the absence of accurate loudness metering. My apologies is I'm stating what you already know. I just wanted to clarify it, if my comment wasn't that clear.

The -23 loudness level is not a proposed spec. It's actually part of the required specs and different broadcast regions have variations of the standard. For example, EBU specs versus ASTC here in the US.

And yes, I agree, Apple should address this. But then there are other broadcast specs that they also don't address in FCPX, like closed captioning.

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 14 Jul 2015 22:36 #66484

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Just one other comment. Although we have been talking about the web not needing to be a concern, I find that this isn't actually the case for all. I know a number of promo editors at US networks and they are being requested to be loudness-complaint on all platforms including the web. They've actually gotten complaints for some of their web promos due to loudness issues. It's not for legal reasons, but rather consistency. That's in the US. I'm not sure if in other world regions there might be actual national regulations regarding content placed on the internet.

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 18 Jul 2015 19:31 #66638

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The most complete presentation about Loudness (around 1 hour in 4 part)


2 free plug-in to measure loudness

www.klangfreund.com/lufsmeter/

www.meldaproduction.com/plugins/product....d=MFreeEffectsBundle
(you need to install the all bundle for obtain MloudnessAnalyser)

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 19 Jul 2015 21:28 #66660

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Unfortunately there's no way with FCPX to use a loudness meter plug-in and still interactively mix your levels at the same time. This might work in Logic Pro X.

This low-cost filter will process an exported mix if you want a two-step solution.

www.videotoolshed.com/product/68/loudnesschange

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 19 Jul 2015 21:53 #66661

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Oliver Peters wrote: Unfortunately there's no way with FCPX to use a loudness meter plug-in and still interactively mix your levels at the same time.

I think a loudness meter isn’t a tool for mixing. It’s a tool for checking mix when it finish.

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 22 Jul 2015 13:39 #66721

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BCH wrote: I think a loudness meter isn’t a tool for mixing. It’s a tool for checking mix when it finish.


It's both. That's why Dolby meters are used in dedicated mixing rooms for in-line, real-time monitoring. Granted, a proper reading must be averaged over time, however, you can still mix a section live. Then back it up a bit and play and monitor. Adjust the mix if needed. The problem with processing the file after export is that it applies additional compression, which may or may not be desirable. I use the RADAR meter in Premiere all the time for live mixing. Usually I adjust master gain after the bulk of the mixing is done, in order to be compliant.

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 22 Jul 2015 14:35 #66724

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Thank you for this clip. This is useful for me..
LLAP,
James
Taipei, Taiwan

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 22 Jul 2015 17:24 #66731

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Oliver Peters wrote:

BCH wrote: ... I use the RADAR meter in Premiere all the time for live mixing. Usually I adjust master gain after the bulk of the mixing is done, in order to be compliant.

- Oliver


This is my point. I hope this type of function could be built-in FCPX

LLAP,
James
Taipei, Taiwan

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Last edit: by wdevn.

Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 22 Jul 2015 18:32 #66738

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wdevn wrote: This is my point. I hold this type of function could be built-in FCPX


I never said it couldn't. But it isn't there right now.

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 22 Jul 2015 19:08 #66740

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Closed Captioning is the law also, and Apple hasn't lifted a finger to do anything about that, either.

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 24 Jul 2015 05:46 #66794

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The “main mixbuss” in FCPX is missing today, yes. And I really, really hope that Apple will implement a clever “mixbuss” in FCPX. But when I´m doing short-form, spots etc and are in a hurry. I put the audio clips in my timeline in a compound and on this I put a Izotope Insight. It´s part of the Ozone package. Works a charm. This way I can mix to correct standard.

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 25 Jul 2015 11:23 #66826

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BenB wrote: First, the standards don't cover anything but commercial broadcast programming, not podcasts or Internet content. Second, if you don't let any of your audio clip, keep it all below -3db, you're safe.

The "proposed" standards for mobile devices, IMHO, is simply ridiculous and should be scraped. There's no mobile device standards about anything, not even the codecs used to deliver at this point. To me, they're putting the cart before the horse.

There are broadcasters using all sorts of NLE's, including FCPX, and few of them are using any built-in broadcast audio regulation filter of any sort. Again, keep it below -3db, you're safe. The loudness thing, IMHO again, is overblown. A good idea, but I think some folks obsess with it way too much, and it has no business being a web podcast standard. Just my two cents.

But an interesting subject, none the less.

AND, it would be nice to see some of these standards thrown in to Compressor's abilities and presets. Considering closed caption is now the law in the US, where is that ability in FCPX?


So are you saying -3dB is the same as -23 LUFS?

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 25 Jul 2015 12:30 #66830

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I'm saying you're pretty safe with it. I never said it was the same.

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 25 Jul 2015 14:45 #66833

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FWIW - a track with a dynamic range that bounces between -9 and -3 on the audio meters reads at around -16 LUFS. There is no direct correlation between the two types of measurements.

- Oliver

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Creating LUFS and CALM Act compliant files 26 Jul 2015 08:59 #66851

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Hey Ben, I didn't say you said it was the same, I was just asking. Shame it's not the same as life would be much simpler. ;)

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