By Freddy Vinehill-Cliffe, Product Specialist, NUGEN Audio
Over the past decade, most of the world has adopted some form of loudness legislation for television. This is wonderful news for casual viewers who understandably hate loud commercials, as well as for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which received approximately 1,000 complaints and 5,000 inquiries about excessively loud TV commercials between 2008 and 2012. But, for those who work in television post-production, it can complicate matters somewhat.
Enacted in December 2012, the U.S. CALM Act stipulates that advertisements must comply with ATSC A/85 loudness specifications. Additionally, many American networks have internal loudness standards for programs as well as commercials. In Europe, most countries have regulations in place that follow the EBU R-128 loudness spec, while streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are moving toward similar practices. In fact, nearly all global loudness standards, such as ATSC A/85 and the aforementioned EBU R-128, are based on some variation of the now standardized ITU-R BS.1770 protocol.
With all these acronyms to learn, who actually has time to figure out how to stay compliant?
There are numerous situations where a program or segment might go to broadcast without ever having been touched by an audio engineer. The most obvious example is an in-the-field news reporter who might be working alone from a laptop, sending clips to the studio for broadcast on the very same day they were filmed/recorded. Considering that many small-market stations and other other low-budget productions may not be able to afford an audio mix engineer, does all this legislation mean those outlets are essentially submitting “illegal” audio? Thankfully, no.
There is software that can help even the most inexperienced audio tech submit loudness compliant audio with ease.
Among these is NUGEN Audio’s LM-Correct, which provides faster than real-time loudness correction as either a standalone application or an extension for Pro Tools, Media Composer and Adobe Premier (via AudioSuite or Adobe Panel). Using this software, any independent audio or video producer can import audio, set target values and hit ‘Correct’ to bring their audio up to spec in faster than real-time. The standard version corrects integrated/maximum short-term or maximum momentary loudness alongside a built-in True Peak limiter. The optional DynApt extension adds a transparent “volume-riding” algorithm to correct integrated loudness, maximum short-term or maximum momentary loudness and maximum LRA (loudness range) simultaneously. Of course, LM-Correct is no permanent replacement for a competent mix engineer, but for situations where there just isn’t the time or budget, LM-Correct can be an invaluable tool.