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Author Topic: Sound Sample Rates
F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-18-2013 02:41 PM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I was reading the "worst 70mm screening" forum (now closed) and found an interesting discussion about sound sample rates in the creation of the theatrical mix. I wanted to add couple of comments to this discussion. One was the idea that after we finish the theatrical version we (I am a feature film sound designer/sound editor) go back and remix the film more carefully for BluRay . Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all of work is done solely for the theatrical release. Being at the end of the proaction process it may be hurried, but it is never just a slap-dash holding job until we can do the home video.

I have been known to add the odd sound effect (because the VFX changed after the print master was made) or even change a music cue due to licensing issues, but this is rare and I can assure you the mix is rarely creatively altered for aftermarket release.

We often create the Near Field Mix (AKA Home Theater master) on the next day after the theatrical M&E. We have been known to raise the center dialogue channel a tad, limit the dynamic range a touch, do some bass management,or to even narrow the stereo spread a bit to conform to a narrower home screen. We may on occasion generate a 7.1 if the film has only been mastered in 5.1 (that usually just some minor re-channeling). Our single most important format is the theatrical release. That is the one the director signed off on and it is the "definitive mix." It is the reason we are making the movie.

I also want to address the questions of higher bit rates for theatrical release. While I have no scientific proof to back me up, just twenty-five years of ears, I suspect the biggest noticeable change from higher sample rates would be in the music mix. While higher resolution production and effects tracks would always be nice, I don't think there would be that much bang for the buck there. We often do new field recording at high rez sample rates, but often it is so it will give us more latitude in the digital post-production processing world.

Snark alert! No matter how loud, how clean, how detailed we make the track, we are always in competition with 400 popcorn crunchers, candy bar opened, talkers, cell phones, and sex addicts! [Wink]

Thanks for what you guys and gals do. We work hard to provide great listening experiences to audiences, but they are only as good as the final pass through your hands. It is our job to entertain!

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-18-2013 05:40 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi F. Please stop screwing with home theater mixes. Especially changing levels, limiting spread, compressing the dynamic range and all of that. It's not really necessary and definitely not appreciated. Thanks F!

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-18-2013 06:31 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How hard would it be to have options for "theatrical mix" and "optimized for your home mix" in a DVD/Blu-Ray menu?

I have no problem with the idea of including a mix that is intended for home use, but some of us (sadly!) have to play these home formats in theatrical environments. It would be nice to have the ability to play the original theatrical mix in those cases.

(You may argue that Blu-Rays have no place in cinema exhibition. I agree. But not everyone else does.)

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F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-18-2013 06:37 PM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
A couple of issues here:

1) The home theater enviroment is not the same as the theatrical environment. The tracks are optomised for different speaker system (driver vs. near field) and different SPL. I don't think you really want 85 SPL in the living room (well maybe you do!) but when you lower it for say 83 SPL other parameters are altered. Also most home theaters do have a perf screen to contend with. If you don't think it makes a difference go to that large chain of theaters than has its speakers above the screen.

2) If you want the theatrical mix on the Blu-ray, you are going to have to get the distributers to provide more storage space on the disc (good luck with that one). You also need to remember sound is still the bastard step-child in the aftermarkets.

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F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-18-2013 08:09 PM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
It should be remembered that these changes are subtle and a generally done by the same re-recording mixers who mixed the film.

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: Toledo, OH USA
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted 03-18-2013 09:22 PM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As someone who has played back a theatrical mix on his modest home system, I can tell you that it works just fine, in fact in spectacular fashion. I'd imagine many members on this board have vastly superior home equipment than I as well, and would love the original, untampered theatrical mix.

AJG

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F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-18-2013 11:48 PM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi,

I do appreciate the purest in you! There are a couple of things that I don't seem to be able to communicate. The near field mix is designed, by the entire sound team, to perform optimally in the home theater. It is designed to provide exactly the same experience but on different equipment.

The changes in the mix are truly minimal. I would be shocked if anyone outside of the dub stage could tell me one thing that was different when played back from a blu-ray in a quality home theater. We strive to mirror the theatrical experience exactly but in a dramatically smaller space and with very different sounding equipment.

The editors and mixers for the near field mix are usually the same ones who did the theatrical, and you can be sure that after months and thousands of hours of work on the soundtrack we are not going to produce an anything but a top grade near field print master for posterity. Trust me, the pain of getting there is too great to let go of it in any but perfect condition.

You also might be surprised to find the attention to detail and the pride of ownership sound people have. Our names continue to live on in the credits in perpetuity! You can be sure we value the film as much, or more, than you do! Rest assured you are hearing the film as we intended and without compromise!

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-19-2013 12:01 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
F.

I don't think you are going to find ANYONE on these forums that appreciates any jacking around with the sound mix.

I know it really pisses me off, and it is pretty easy to tell when a mix has been screwed with that I am familiar with.

This practice really should be stopped. Not everyone is watching these blurays on a 48" television with a "home theater in a box" sound system from Wal-Mart you know. The blurays should be the ORIGINAL mix, untampered. The home theater in a box guys won't know the difference...but we will.

If you must mess with the sound mix, throw it on that damned DVD version they force us to buy with the bluray disc. Quality-conscious people don't care about that anyway. It's just a way for the studios to screw customers out of a few more bucks.

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 03-19-2013 12:20 AM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Don't "F" with the original mix!

Especially since some cinemas are gonna run that Bluray when the movie goes into repertory release. (And that's no joke.)

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F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-19-2013 12:55 AM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
As I have posted earlier I really do appreciate the passion. I appreciate everything you guys do to bring all our hard work to life in theaters. The theatrical mix is tweaked to perfection to play in a theater. The Imax mix is adjusted for best presentation in an Imax theater. The televison mix and the airline mix are both different, as is an atmos release, and the LT/RT. The near field is a home theater mix designed to give the best possible presentation to hundreds of millions of people who see the film that way. As I have said before it is designed to play in a different enviroment, with different equipment, yet provid the same experience.

I am sorry that you guys get stuck with blu-ray. That is crappy and wrong. You should be getting a DCP. Rep titles are whole nother kettle of fish . . . lets hope that distribution can find a workable solution. 4K Blu-ray anyone?

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-19-2013 07:36 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Airline mix? Is it optimized for cheap headphones?

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Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1061
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 03-19-2013 09:00 AM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Trying to optimize for the home theater environment is always going to be compromised, because there is no standard for home theater configurations. The variables are endless!

Many people have a 40-60" flat panel TV in their living room. Some have projectors shooting at a wall, while some have non-perf screens, while others have gone the route of an acoustically transparent perfed screen with the speakers hidden behind them. I'm actually surprised that you mentioned that last example, as I figured that would be the minority by a long shot once one got away from the houses of the rich and famous.

That's just the video environment. The sound environment is going to be different in every single situation. You're going to have the low end, with a living room equipped with a home theater in a box sub-satellite combo (most likely not calibrated), and the higher end configurations that people have put more effort into. Unfortunately, there are so many schools of thought regarding multi-channel audio, how does a sound designer make a choice of which to optimize to?

I have a 7.1 setup, with dipolar side surrounds to the side of the listening area above ear level, with two dipolar rear surrounds on the back wall. Others adhere to the more angular approach, with direct firing surrounds in the back corners (135° and 235°), with a single rear surround at 180°.

I remember reading in Widescreen Review a long time ago that DTS had the ability to embed the configuration used to do the sound mix, and a so-equipped processor could see what it was configured in the home, and the translation could be done real-time, but I don't think that has ever made it to production.

Home Theater has been hobby of mine since 1993, and when I designed my room, I tried to make the best choices I could, leaning towards a theater-style configuration rather than the "holographic" sound that people like Gary Reber advocated for home theaters.

I honestly don't know how decisions could be made to "optimize" a home theater mix with so many variables. I'd be curious to find out more, so if there are some reading materials available, or ideally, you would be willing to enlighten me with how you manage that balancing act, I would be eager to learn.

I'm not the stickler for holding to the theatrical mix like some here, but they have much more first-hand experience with the theatrical mix than I. While I am open to the idea that some optimization might be warranted, the pitfalls seem to outweigh the benefits due to the non-standard configurations. Perhaps when Atmos gets to the home, we'll have an unmodified source mix that the processor then takes and modifies with its DSP's to the owner's delight/detriment. Any chance of that?

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: Toledo, OH USA
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted 03-19-2013 09:30 AM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How can something that is tweaked provide the "same" experience? It is, by its very definition, different.

Wasn't this the whole point of THX Re-EQ anyhow? Films that were mixed for the cinema and put on video would sound harsh without it?

Supposedly, most LaserDiscs had theatrical mixes on them. I can definitely buy that because when I compare one to a DVD/Blu-ray, it's usually brighter and has more dynamic range (when adjusting for volume no less). Why the big shift once DVDs came around?

If anyone has compared the LaserDisc of Mission: Impossible to any subsequent home video release, you'll know what I'm talking about.

AJG

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F. Hudson Miller
Film Handler

Posts: 48
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2009


 - posted 03-19-2013 09:50 AM      Profile for F. Hudson Miller   Email F. Hudson Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I think I was saying saying that a difference between home theaters and commercial venues is that most home theaters do NOT have a perf screen while most theatrical theaters Do have a perf screen.

My guess that any form of home Atmos is dependent on exhibitors embracing the format. Will they go for a new sound format after hefty outlays for digital projection and 3D installations. I also think it depends on whether 3D drives profits up or down. If 3D fades into more a specialty format it could effect the exhibitors appetite for new equipment outlays. That remains an unanswerable at this point.

The airline version is obviously a stereo mix. You have to deal with the fact that low end disappears in the headphones and presence of jet engine rumble.

Since I am an editor most of the responsibility for the home theater mix is out of my hands and in those of the re-recording mixers. The big three engineering issues that I am aware of (all handled by the engineering department) are using near field monitors in a small room setup and a lower SPL. After monitoring has been pinked, the mixer re-records the three stems (D,M,E) into a new Near Field master. Our goal is to reproduce the theatrical mix as accurately as possible. This is a much art as it is science. The goal is to reproduce the mix so that the home audience can have a successful film experience in a huge variety of playback situations.

The studio and/or distributor has a list of deliverables (various versions) that we are required to provide at the end of each film, the near field is one of them. As I mentioned earlier, the exhibitors need to petition for a special rep format. Maybe something like a hi-rez 4K disk with the theatrical mix on it. The sound crew has somewhat less than zero influence on what the distributor does with our work.

I hope that helps explain what happens in the real world creation of the near field mix.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-19-2013 10:33 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott already pegged your answer. There is no standard for home setups, so as such there is no way to tweek it for a standard that doesn't exist.

This silly notion of remixing is punishing the people who truly care are about the sound in their screening rooms by doing it right, and rewarding the people who in all honestly really don't give a shit.

Sorry, but you guys are screwing up. You should just hand over the theatrical mix and say "there you go". The suits won't know the difference anyway, and there are lots of bluray releases that didn't jack with the sound.

BTW want a really nasty example of bad remixing? Go check out Back to the Future. Whoever did that needs to be taken out back and shot. (Same with the blind guy remastering the video who kept cranking up the edge enhancement knob.) The DVD release is better.

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