NEW YORK - It’s common knowledge in the television industry today that the CALM Act has had a significant impact on broadcasters, as they now have to pay closer attention to their audio levels. However, compliance regulations have also reinforced the importance of correct audio levels to content creators and production houses as well.
Here at Nice Shoes, an end-to-end production and post-production company, we’ve increased our attention towards audio, making sure that the content we create for our clients is not only engaging, but also loudness-compliant. That focus has not been without its challenges.
SHIFTING PRODUCTION LANDSCAPE
This is relatively new ground for many people and companies on our side of the broadcast chain. For many years, our emphasis has been primarily on video, not audio, but nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see some pretty inconsistent audio levels between different programs, and even within a single piece of content. When our clients turned to us for help in resolving such issues, we knew we had to find a way to accurately measure and artistically control the audio in their productions.
Our audio engineers suggested investigating equipment from Linear Acoustic for a solution. After a lot of research and the evaluation of numerous products from several manufacturers, we determined that Linear Acoustic’s AERO.100 DTV Audio Processor was what we’d been looking for.
We needed an audio measurement and processing device with SDI I/O, a good user interface and the ability to produce compliant audio with an emphasis on audio quality. That’s where the AERO.100 really stands out. The processed audio from it is not only compliant, but also is top-notch in quality, providing compelling and clear audio for our clients and ultimately, for the viewers at home.
PLENTY OF INDICATORS AND FUNCTIONALITY
Among the more useful features of the AERO.100 in our application are the built-in ITU-R BS.1770 LFKS meters. We can run content though the unit without processing it, just to measure the levels. There are four separate meters, each with a user-selectable integration time, so we can look at short-term dynamics and the mid- and long-term averages at the same time. This lets us identify exactly where the content is inconsistent or non-compliant, so we can point it out to our clients. From there, they can choose to go back and fix those areas themselves, or we can use AERO.100 processing to bring everything into compliance for them, allowing us to facilitate our client’s needs with complete confidence.
Linear Acoustic has been the go-to manufacturer of processors and meters for television networks and local stations worldwide for more than a decade, but their products definitely have a place on the production side as well. The AERO.100 has proven to be an invaluable tool for us. It lets us get a fast handle on the audio, which in turn lets us get back to what we do best—video production.
Steve Ye is chief engineer at Nice Shoes and has been with the company for more than 16 years. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.