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post #1 of 38 Old 08-30-2015, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Interoperable Immersive Audio



Brian Vessa, chair of the SMPTE technology committee on cinema sound systems, talks about the effort to standardize an interoperable immersive-audio format. which will allow studios to create one immersive-audio mix that can then be delivered and rendered in theaters with different audio systems, such as Dolby Atmos, Auro 3D, and DTS:X. Topics include the delivery bitstream, packaging, synchronization, defining the expected behavior of the renderer, testing and calibration procedures, answers to chat-room questions, and more.


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post #2 of 38 Old 08-31-2015, 10:51 AM
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Great information, lets hope this does get standardize so all future movies will be immersive sound tracks for the home

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post #3 of 38 Old 08-31-2015, 03:47 PM
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I wonder how Dolby, DTS, and Auro feel about this from a marketing perspective. If a single mix is played back on multiple systems, reviewers and consumers will be able to compare the systems side-by-side with the same content. To my knowledge, this has never been the case as there has always been a different mix for each codec, if more than one was even available.

I suppose the 3D video companies have had to come to grips with this as well - any idea how that is playing out in the market? That is to say, is one or more of the competing technologies beginning to be looked at as inferior?

That said - maybe it allows them compete on price and service, since exhibitors will all have access to the same content. So maybe it's a double-edged sword...
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post #4 of 38 Old 08-31-2015, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by HopefulFred View Post
I wonder how Dolby, DTS, and Auro feel about this from a marketing perspective. If a single mix is played back on multiple systems, reviewers and consumers will be able to compare the systems side-by-side with the same content. To my knowledge, this has never been the case as there has always been a different mix for each codec, if more than one was even available..
We don't mix for the codec in 5.1/7.1.. while there have been examples of films that were "tweaked" in the past for certain releases with certain codecs, it is more rare than common..

Not to mention the fact that it is also extremely rare that there will be more than a single audio encode per language for any given title...

In the podcast, Brian is mostly talking about the interoperability on the theater side of things..

That isn't going to translate into multiple immersive encodes for the home... even with UHD BR coming up, bandwidth and space is still extremely important to content creators.. UHD BR, while using more efficient video codecs and encoding, doesn't really change that..

Atmos and DTS:X Cinema will still have some fundamental differences.. as do the home versions.. we now have fairly simple ways of translating an MDA/DTS:X mix to Atmos and vice versa..

That being said, the home versions are both going to be much more similar than different, especially when both share similar speaker layouts, which looks to be the case for at least the next couple of years..

I don't mention Auro because I don't think they are going to be able to catch up in a meaningful way in the home market if things keep going as they have, i.e. zero domestic BR soundtracks (and only a few in other parts of the world at this point...)
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post #5 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 03:02 AM
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Why this was on Home Theater Geeks is beyond me.

FWIW, I used to work in a field where end users required different digital formats and the files were huge and computationally expensive. How did this impact our workflow? We just batched a different file type, clicked a button and went home for the night..... the computers clunked away on a processing cluster while I slept. Computing tech and speed nowadays makes formatting a non issue. Our production side was agnostic to end formats.

Given his position within SMPTE, it disturbs me that Brian is a supporter of "smaller" mixes for the home vs theater soundtracks. There should be a dynamic range flag in the metadata that can be compressed based on the end users system. ie. TV speakers vs theater system. Mixing for the lowest common denominator is a terrible shame- especially on a premium format like bluray.
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post #6 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post

Atmos and DTS:X Cinema will still have some fundamental differences.. as do the home versions.. we now have fairly simple ways of translating an MDA/DTS:X mix to Atmos and vice versa..
Can you describe (briefly) those fundamental differences in the theatrical systems, and how they may affect mixing decisions? Currently there are different mixes delivered for Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D; presumably the mixes are tweaked to take advantage of the characteristics of each format. If there is a single delivery, how will it be "optimized" for the final immersive playback system? Or will it?
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post #7 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenity_now View Post
Why this was on Home Theater Geeks is beyond me.

Given his position within SMPTE, it disturbs me that Brian is a supporter of "smaller" mixes for the home vs theater soundtracks. There should be a dynamic range flag in the metadata that can be compressed based on the end users system. ie. TV speakers vs theater system. Mixing for the lowest common denominator is a terrible shame- especially on a premium format like bluray.
They don't mix for a lowest common denominator, that would be TV speakers or sound bar. They mix for a competent 5.1/7.1 home theater setup, which IMHO is a good thing. A theatrical mix played back in a living room doesn't translate.
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post #8 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dschulz View Post
Can you describe (briefly) those fundamental differences in the theatrical systems, and how they may affect mixing decisions? Currently there are different mixes delivered for Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D; presumably the mixes are tweaked to take advantage of the characteristics of each format. If there is a single delivery, how will it be "optimized" for the final immersive playback system? Or will it?
Most of the different between Atmos and DTS:X come down to the "standardization" in Atmos cinema installations, i.e.. you have arrayed surrounds and OH channels, etc.. to be clear you can render objects in MDA/DTS:X to behave the same way.. and it's now fairly easy to get an Atmos mix into MDA (I still use that term rather than DTS:X... they are frankly interchangeable at this point when talking about the format...) DTS:X gives you the ability to add a height layer below the ceiling speakers, and corner speakers, and behind the screen heights, etc... which might absolutely change some of the artistic decisions made.

That being said, there is no way to 100% optimize using a single delivery.. while I really like the flexibility of DTS:X, it raises the question as to what the reference really is.. at this point there really isn't one.

Since there are really only a handful of DTS:X rooms (I only personally know of 1) there hasn't really been a good deal of exploration into workflow using MDA.. at this point, the "popularity" of Atmos (and the subsequent dominance in stages, etc) leads me to believe that, for the next couple of years, we will be starting in Atmos and using that as a basis moving forward.. Avid is making the Atmos panner the standard in Pro Tools in the next year, and that will have some effect on workflow... but regardless, this is still a work in progress..

In the end, Atmos offers less flexibility, but that affords you a greater degree of confidence in how your mix will playback in theaters...

DTS:X offers flexibility to the exhibitors (no overheads if they don't want, or corner speakers if desired, for example...) which at the same time increases the variables upon playback... that being said, the ability to render to any setup ((which can lead to unexpected surprises (they offer something called a "render" exception which can help to remove such variables)) works very well in practice..

As always, these are just my opinions.. take them with a large grain of salt... both companies are working very hard to move the state of the art forward.

BTW.. inquiring minds want to know how "American Ultra" in DTS:X was..
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post #9 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 09:53 AM
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If they give same effect there is no problem.
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post #10 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 05:04 PM
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In another episode, I think "Acoustics for Immersive Audio", Anthony Grimani argued that in a properly setup home theater environment there is no reason a theatrical mix shouldn't be employed. In fact, it was better.

Is there a technical/acoustical reason why it wouldn't translate? Trying to understand how and why these decisions are made by studios. It seems like studios dont want to create a mix that doesnt behave in all domestic playback setups. That's what I meant by lowest common denominator. I dont like the fact the same mix was created with playback in mind for a dodge caravan as well as my theater...... Mixdown friendly with less dynamic range.

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post #11 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenity_now View Post
In another episode, I think "Acoustics for Immersive Audio", Anthony Grimani argued that in a properly setup home theater environment there is no reason a theatrical mix shouldn't be employed. In fact, it was better.

Is there a technical/acoustical reason why it wouldn't translate? Trying to understand how and why these decisions are made by studios. It seems like studios dont want to create a mix that doesnt behave in all domestic playback setups. That's what I meant by lowest common denominator. I dont like the fact the same mix was created with playback in mind for a dodge caravan as well as my theater...... Mixdown friendly with less dynamic range.
Grimani is right.

And there was also another thread on the same "near-field-remix" subject recently.
From that we see there are no legitimate reasons for doing a re-mix for home with reduced dynamics or any of the other adaptions the producers have mentioned.
Several participants in that thread state that they want the theatrical mix, and they also present solutions for how this can be done in a practice.

This is from a consumer and developer of audio reproduction systems perspective.

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post #12 of 38 Old 09-01-2015, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serenity_now View Post

Is there a technical/acoustical reason why it wouldn't translate?
The largest of home theaters is quite a bit smaller than the smallest of commercial cinemas. The theatrical mix is done in a large dubbing stage closer in size to a movie theaters, with full range loudspeakers for the L,C,R (no bass management). And no one listens to movies in a home theater at the decibel levels that are common in a movie theatre. The home theater remix is not a massive re-imaging of the soundtrack, just a tweak pass to adjust things to reflect the smaller sized room.

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Grimani is right.
We're close to this being a Dead Horse, and it's been discussed on other threads, but my short response is I think Grimani is wrong (and I almost never think Grimani is wrong about anything). If I listened to the theatrical mix in my living room, it wouldn't sound right because it was mixed to be played back in a giant room. The home theater remix is done for people like us on this forum, so that we hear the director/mixer's intent translated to the home theater environment.
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post #13 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 10:28 AM
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...
And no one listens to movies in a home theater at the decibel levels that are common in a movie theatre.
..
Where did you get that idea?
If you turn it down you loose the physical impact and sense of powerful sound.
Movies with a good soundtrack sounds best at reference, they were made to be played at that sound level.

And this experience is not limited to a few enthusiasts with mega-systems in large, dedicated rooms.
When I have casual visitors in my demo room, they appreciate the overall quality of the sound and the powerful impact of full frequency range bass - at reference level.

Small room, small system, normal people - not meaning to offend us enthusiasts, but I think you get the difference - they like it, and when asked if this is like in the cinema, no - not at all!

You can experience this for yourself, if I pick you up at the airport it is a 15 minute drive to get to my demo room. You are welcome.

Thing is, in a small room with a decent, properly calibrated system, the quality of the sound is much better than any cinema can provide.

Proper calibration is important - decent frequency response, and levels must be adjusted to account for early reflections. If you use pink noise only to calibrate level in a small room you will usually end up with a too loud calibration.

I think there are a lot of misunderstandings among film production professionals regarding acoustics.
There is no physical law that states sound in a small room is louder than in a larger space.
A given spl is the same, regardless of size of space.
The difference lies in the resulting soundfield, which is determined by room acoustics and speaker radiation patterns.
A small room is prone to have stronger early reflections, and this will make it sound louder, but that can be fixed.
A large room has true diffuse reverberation, and this is more difficult to achieve in a small room, but that does not really contribute to loudness.
Measurements from cinemas and dub stages shows that the direct sound dominates at mid to higher frequencies, just like it will in a small room with proper acoustics and decent speakers with controlled directivity.

The recent SMPTE report (TC-25CSS B-Chain Frequency and Temporal Response Analysis of Theatres and Dubbing Stages) provides a lot of information on quality of sound reproduction systems in cinemas and dub stages. The report shows that the calibration standards are being followed at least to some degree, but since the main problem is the standard itself, the sound is also all over the place, with huge variations between venues. I also recommend reading O Toole's recently published AES paper (The Measurement and Calibration of Sound Reproducing Systems FLOYD E. TOOLE - free access to this paper), where he explains the fallacy of the x-curve and its implications.
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post #14 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 12:18 PM
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Where did you get that idea?
Maybe his years of employment at Datasat gave him some real world experience..

You and some of the other very vocal members are certainly entitled to your opinion... even Mr. Grimani.. who I certainly respect.

To say that the other thread settled the issue and proved your point is presumptive IMO.

That it flies in the face of practical, real world experience of the people who produce content, the studios, mixers, film makers and many others who have developed workflow and content over the years is moot.... of course we have work to do on tuning standards, measurement, etc..

Again, your might have a room that is degrees better than a commercial cinema..

It still isn't setup like one, and the changes we make to the mixes certainly aren't vast or as destructive as you like to make it out to be... that's really my issues with your perspective... I've explained in detail in the past the workflow most of adhere to... it becomes mountains out of mole hills from your side of the camp

I'm not going to be baited into another back and forth over the subject...

We don't adapt for the "lowest common denominator..." Most of the setups used for doing said mixes are very good.

I've actually gotten rants, "threats" from members they won't buy any title I've worked on (like I care,) personal attacks about my talent, every time I chime in.. so I'm try to stay out of these "debates..."

Because my contributions are always the same..

I keep waiting for anyone to point out a terrible sounding BR or mix they attribute to the near field mix vs. the theatrical..

Until you or any of the other well educated (and I assure you your knowledge on acoustics, theory, audio setup, etc, are much greater than my own) members get some real world production experience and take their work from one venue to another it's not worth the headache to me... I've now done it hundreds of times... and if my only concern is for enthusiasts who have spent multitude more money on their rooms than we have on our mixing stage we would be fooling ourselves in the exact same way as if we thought our theatrical mixes would translate perfectly to 99% of home theater setups (with the surrounds 3db louder, the sub raised, no x-curve, etc...)

There is a reason the studios spend a great deal of money and resources to do home video remastering...

If you and others are so upset about this practice vote with your pocketbook.. and boycott the studios who "insist" on continuing with this practice.. which at this point is all of them...

As always, just my .02
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post #15 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post
...
I keep waiting for anyone to point out a terrible sounding BR or mix they attribute to the near field mix vs. the theatrical..
...
First, I am sorry to hear you receive negative personal messages which attack you as a person.
I hope you can ignore those kind of messages, and to the offenders - this is not the way to express your opinion as it does not contribute in any way to whatever cause you are promoting, keep it on a professional level and post your point of view in the open instead.

As for the terrible sound - I can point out several issues in several movies, but I can only guess whether any of those issues are related to a near-field re-mix, because I do not have the details on how the sound mix was done.

My point now was that it really is no difference between home and theater that makes it necessary to do major changes to the sound, and, a decent home set-up can be played at the same sound levels as is used in a cinema or in the dub-stage.

And it does not require massive speaker installations and reconstruction of your home - in a small room you can have speakers of relatively modest size and appearance - provided they are designed properly.

Good sound is a matter of choice.
And I choose to have good sound, because it adds so much to the experience that for me, this is actually what makes it worth while to spend two hours - and the money to buy the movie (this is for you content providers - read this, again, until you realize that this is actually something you can make money on..) - experiencing a movie instead of doing something else.

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Quote:
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My point now was that it really is no difference between home and theater that makes it necessary to do major changes to the sound, and, a decent home set-up can be played at the same sound levels as is used in a cinema or in the dub-stage.
Again.. we don't do "major changes..." this is the point I keep trying to make, but it always seems to get lost.
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Well @FilmMixer I think there are different approaches here, may be your films are even better after doing the re-mix, but others have their own definition of "improvement", such as pushing the levels too far up with reduced dynamics as a result because the signal hits the limiters.

To me it is obvious that the producers don't realize better sound will sell more movies.
I think part of the problem is they have never experienced the difference.
Neither can I see how this could compete with the cinema - the experience is so totally different, for other reasons than sound, they do not compare.

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post #18 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 04:39 PM
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I think part of the problem is they have never experienced the difference.
From what Vessa said in the podcast, the reason filmmakers started asking for home mixes is because they experienced the theatrical mix in a small room.

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post #19 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 05:33 PM
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Thanks all for clarifying where issues may lie in use of a theatrical mix in a home environment. I did not realize the differences were so trivial. A few db is nothing to worry about if that is all the tailoring that is done.


I found during recent home theater room tuning and measurements, toe-in mismatching, SBIR or the effect of a poor lateral reflection has a much larger influence than just a couple db tweak.... A high noise floor (25+db) and compromised room setup cooks most peoples gooses before anything a mixer could be blamed for anyhow.


I'm not sweating it anymore if that is truly all that a home mix differs from a theatrical presentation. In the end, some movies just sound better than others. I attribute this to decisions made in the mixing process in general. It is probably most likely that the movies that don't wow at home probably didn't wow in the theater anyhow.


It makes me think how often I actually go to the theater to have a fair comparison to go by. Been years...


Thanks again!
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post #20 of 38 Old 09-02-2015, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okv View Post

And there was also another thread on the same "near-field-remix" subject recently.
From that we see there are no legitimate reasons for doing a re-mix for home with reduced dynamics or any of the other adaptions the producers have mentioned.
Several participants in that thread state that they want the theatrical mix, and they also present solutions for how this can be done in a practice.

This is from a consumer and developer of audio reproduction systems perspective.
We must have read a different threads. The one I've read and participated in it was clear that most industry people endorsed the nearfield mix ideas, and the ones who opposed it, and quite frankly misrepresented what nearfield mix really is,[ see their aforementioned recommendations] are not part of the industry. I don't know about you but I tend to listen to those who do this for a living.

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post #21 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
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From what Vessa said in the podcast, the reason filmmakers started asking for home mixes is because they experienced the theatrical mix in a small room.
This is the problem.

The difference has nothing to do with small room, it has everything to do with bad reproduction systems.
A sound system can be bad in countless ways, if you fix it so it sounds good on one, it will still sound bad on all the others - including the good ones with proper calibration, good room acoustics and decent dynamic capacity.

Note that I am not questioning the experiences, but it is essential to understand why the sound they ezperienced in those small rooms was bad, and why this can not be fixed by changing the source material.

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The difference has nothing to do with small room, it has everything to do with bad reproduction systems.
How do you know what reproduction systems they were listening to?

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post #23 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:32 AM
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..it was clear that most industry people endorsed the nearfield mix ideas,
...
http://8md8b.info/forum/138-av...udio-home.html

Exactly. the producers promote the near-field, but the others made it pretty clear we do not want this.
Practical solutions which would satisfy the technical side of this were presented.

It is quite clear that someone has an agenda here, and it is not to deliver the best possible sound experience to the audience.

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post #24 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
How do you know what reproduction systems they were listening to?
If they listened to properly set up systems they would not end up with a desire to change the mix.

I am Øyvind Kvålsvoll, owner and founder of Kvålsvoll Design.
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post #25 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:37 AM
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If they listened to properly set up systems they would not end up with a desire to change the mix.
Yes, you're right... most of us in the business have never heard a "properly set up system."
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post #26 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:45 AM
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Yes, you're right... most of us in the business have never heard a "properly set up system."
In the dub stage where you do the mix - this is the reference, right?

If you go to a different room, and it still sounds more or less similar - perhaps not exactly equal, but more similar than different, and it still sounds good.
Would you then feel the need to change anything to make it better or different?

If you follow the same guidelines you will actually end up with something that reproduces sound similar to what you hear in the dub stage.
Regardless of room size.

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post #27 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Okv View Post
http://8md8b.info/forum/138-av...udio-home.html

Exactly. the producers promote the near-field, but the others made it pretty clear we do not want this.
Practical solutions which would satisfy the technical side of this were presented.
Well the industry should just do what you want, right?

All of the "practical" solutions had big issues just from a starting point (i.e. dynamic range metadata, which doesn't take into account any of the other differences between the cinema and consumer playback, is a fixed value for example..)

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It is quite clear that someone has an agenda here, and it is not to deliver the best possible sound experience to the audience.
The agenda is to present the film as the film maker intended it, in a setup that was different than the one they mixed it in...

But frankly I'm offended at the notion that you say our goal is not to deliver the "best possible sound experience...."

I've dedicated 25 years of my life to that pursuit...

You're entire premise is flawed because you keep simply ignore the fact that your room isn't setup like a dub stage or a cinema, no matter how much money or care you put into it... and then you keep saying things that simply aren't the result of the near field process in many situations ("such as pushing the levels too far up with reduced dynamics as a result because the signal hits the limiters...")

Just cause you keep saying the same thing over and over again doesn't make them true...
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post #28 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post
...
You're entire premise is flawed because you keep simply ignore the fact that your room isn't setup like a dub stage or a cinema, no matter how much money or care you put into it...
In what way is my room, or anyone elses room for that matter different from your dub stage?

I have smooth frequency response with extension much wider that you have in the dub stage, I have plenty dynamic headroom above reference level peaks, I have a similar level of control on acoustics including decay times, I have a flat bass response with no resonances.

Did I miss something essential?

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post #29 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Okv View Post
In what way is my room, or anyone elses room for that matter different from your dub stage?

I have smooth frequency response with extension much wider that you have in the dub stage, I have plenty dynamic headroom above reference level peaks, I have a similar level of control on acoustics including decay times, I have a flat bass response with no resonances.

Did I miss something essential?
No x-curve, left and right speaker placement relative to the screen, surround arrays vs point source, full range surrounds, surround and sub level relative to LCR, distance to surrounds, bass management... to start with.

Listening distance does have an effect.

I don't care if you listen at reference (85db) 99.9% of consumers don't.... which change the spectral balance of things.

And the available DRC options for content are static and don't offer dynamic metadata... And does not deal with individual channel balance.

Again... You're certainly entitled to you opinion and desires....

If you can articulate the agenda you accuse my industry of having ... I'm all ears.

It's a business... If they felt they were leaving money on the table the studios would do whatever it takes to secure that revenue.

If there is an agenda I'm certainly being kept in the dark about it.. it just makes no sense...

And in the words of the great philosopher Judge Judy... If it doesn't make sense, it simply isn't true.

Now excuse me... I've got some mixing to do.
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post #30 of 38 Old 09-03-2015, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Okv View Post
If they listened to properly set up systems they would not end up with a desire to change the mix.
That's circular reasoning: if you listen on a proper system, you won't want to change the mix; therefore there is no reason to change the mix, if you listen on a proper system. Problem is, you're using a very narrow definition for what makes a system "properly set up" (no desire to change the mix), asthough small room acoustics will have no effect on the experience.

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