Final Check for Film levels

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Final Check for Film levels

Postby tas » Mon Jun 27, 2011 15:16

I am evaluating Final Check at the moment. I read all about the broadcasting standards, but am curious to know if anyone is applying that for film realeases.
yes, I understand that there are no real standards for theatrical release and the best way is to mix on a proper dolby dub stage or whatnot, but the ultra-low budget shorts that play in festivals also deserve a good balance on their soundtrack.

Perhaps someone can chip in?
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Re: Final Check for Film levels

Postby gabriel » Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:49


If you're talking about film levels, do you mean Dolby or general target levels for films? If the question is to use Final Check to evaluate Dolby DialNorm value, the answer is: yes! The original way of Dolby is based on anchor sequences like dialogues and led to the development of loudness meters with Dolby's proprietary Dialog Intelligence algorithm, which (should) picks only dialogue sequences for measurement. About two years ago, Dolby adapted ITU-R BS.1770 for the loudness measurement of the dialogue elements. With Dolby, there is no target level, but the DialNorm value ALWAYS has to represent the loudness of the audio content, in order to allow correct loudness normalization at decoder stage. Like Dolby, ATSC A/85 is based on ITU-R BS.1770 loudness measurement of anchor elements, but additionally specifies a loudness target level of -24 LKFS. EBU R128 also measures with ITU-R BS.1770 algorithm, but in contrast to ATSC A/85 it does not use anchor elements. Instead it provides a gating algorithm, which excludes levels below a certain threshold from the measurement. And the target level is at comparable -23 LUFS, which fits usually perfect to ATSC and its (without the gating) 1 LU lower measurement. Despite very different, with normal content (except extreme examples) these three measurements are usually very interoperable and you're allowed i.e. to use R128 program loudness value for Dolby DialNorm or vice versa. Currently ITU is adapting a gating like EBU R128, which means, all the different loudness standards will become closer than ever.

If your question is, if there is a loudness target for film: I don't think so. With Dolby Digital you're allowed to produce program loudness from -31 LUFS to very high values, as long as your DialNorm value also correctly indicate it. So, it really depends on the dynamic range of your production. Target levels of -24 or -23 LUFS are optimized for a limited broadcast dynamic range (at home). As long as the dynamics fit into the -23 LUFS/-1 dBTP or -24 LKFS/-2 dBTP scheme, I would recommend to stick with that target. Only if dynamic range is wider, you have to go to -27 or lower. In that case, broadcasters will require special versions, remixed for their lower dynamic range.

Conclusion: Final Check will support you with all these tasks anyway! Hope it helped.


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Paulo M
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Re: Final Check for Film levels

Postby Paulo M » Sun Aug 21, 2011 13:22


I read your post reply with attention, but somehow, there is one thing missing. I don´t think that Final Check will provide any type of Leq measurement so that the user can comply with the 82 db for commercials and 85 db for trailers as specified in most countries. If doing Dolby Digital and sending your files for coding in England, failing to observe those values implies that you mix is rejected. You can say that Leq is obsolete now, but you still need to comply for the time being.

Having said that, we are of course in a transition time, since most cinemas worldwide are or have been already converted to digital projection, so Dolby Digital or derivatives do not play a part here, all you deliver out of your surround mix is mono wave files for the making of the DCP.
Of course is still important and it will be for the foreseanable future, that you mix in a room calibrated to the X curve, so that your mixes translate well when played at the cinema, even in a digital projection one.

Curiously, the advent of digital projection and cinematography is allowing a lot of poorly done mixes into the cinemas in the form of advertising, at least here in my country, where even a mix done in a normal post studio is allowed into the equation, as most advertisers don´t have a clue and money(as always) comes first.

I would welcome some form of "new rules" for the digital cinema release that would allow to control loudness in the digital cinema, on par of what´s being done in broadcast. Non proprietary of course :)
Best regards,

Paulo M

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Re: Final Check for Film levels

Postby gabriel » Sun Aug 21, 2011 14:25

Hi Paulo,

Yes, you're right. I'm not familiar with all these different Leq values and cinema rules. Are you talking about Leq(m), Leq(a), Leq unweighted, ....? Your values of 82 and 85 are pointing to acoustic loudness levels. As already published in different studies, Leq does not correlate very well with subjective loudness experience, which is probably one of the reasons, Dolby changed over to BS.1770. For sure, there must be a calibrated relation between acoustic loudness level and electrical loudness level related to digital FS. I tried to find out very quickly but the background of the Dolby paper (after A.3) in ... Manual.pdf

didn't help a lot, but confused me more. The interesting thing is, that Dolby didn't talk about a compensation value, when they changed from Leq(m) to Leq(a) to BS.1770. Therefore it seems, these all fit in general but improved with certain content. Maybe more later...