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>> News and Comment >> A 'solution' to background music being too loud?

Message started by JohnW on Jul 26th, 2019, 11:44am

Title: A 'solution' to background music being too loud?
Post by JohnW on Jul 26th, 2019, 11:44am

I've just come across this 'snippet' (from TVBEurope!) and felt that given the amount of criticism that is often directed at the sound balance of various programmes it might be of interest to the assembled multitude.
The BBC is testing a new technology that allows hearing impaired viewers to change the levels of the audio on a programme.

The technology is available via the BBC’s Taster website where drama 'Casualty' is available for viewers to set their own levels in the audio mix.

Viewers can use a slider (button) in addition to the volume control which can be moved to reduce any background noise - including music - thus making the dialogue crisper.

According to Lauren Ward, project lead on the A&E Audio Project Team, work on the special episode of Casualty began in post production, during the audio mix, when each sound, or group of sounds, was given an importance level (stored in metadata) by the dubbing mixer or producer.

The slider - or Narrative Balancer as the BBC is calling it - is then added to the online media player. “At one end of the slider all the objects are the same level as the original broadcast mix. At the other end is a simplified mix with louder speech and only the most important sounds to the narrative. The viewer is then able to adjust between these two mixes to find the balance of dialogue and other sounds that they prefer,” Ward told the BBC Taster website.

Behind the scenes, the player is looking at where the viewer sets the slider and for every group of sounds, either turns their volume up or down based on its importance.

Title: Re: A 'solution' to background music being too loud?
Post by Administrator on Jul 26th, 2019, 12:18pm

This story made "The Times" front page. There were no links to the BBC Press Office available.

The "TVB Europe" page is here.

The BBC "Taster" page- where you can experiment with the system- is here.

Title: Re: A 'solution' to background music being too loud?
Post by Roundabout on Jul 27th, 2019, 10:11am

Um, excuse me just getting this clear...the BBC is inviting us to get extra kit and to watch our TV not on our lovely big HD screens but on a PC or tablet or phone with their tiny screens so that the 'audio balance ' operators with their grillions of pounds worth of technology can go on getting it wrong?...and of course only on selected programmes.

Title: Re: A 'solution' to background music being too loud?
Post by TomT on Jul 27th, 2019, 12:51pm

Has anyone thought that there could be a simple answer to the problem? Tell the programme makers to get the balance right in the first place. I always did a "comp check" by listening on a smaller comparison speaker to hear if it was OK for those with less sophisticated equipment. Shame the trial is only available on: LAPTOP / COMPUTER / ANDROID PHONE not iphone or ipad !

Title: Re: A 'solution' to background music being too loud?
Post by Dickie Mint on Jul 30th, 2019, 4:10pm


"...In almost all programmes, the dialogue conveys much of the story,..."

Quite!  So, simple cheap solution, tell the directors this. Oh, and how about the BBC actually policing it's own production guidelines.  Now hidden and not searchable.  Too embarrassing for viewers to know?

But I did find this:

"Sound best practice

Sound quality plays a vital role in our audience’s enjoyment of BBC programmes. We don’t want viewers switching off because the sound is poorly mixed.

The BBC has therefore produced a best practice guide for sound mixing (PDF) for use by productions.

This covers elements such as background music, volume surfing and loudness range reporting and gives examples of successful audio mixes across different programme types.

It is recommended that all producers delivering television programmes to the BBC follow the advice set out in this document.

I think all this has been said before in the sound  topics.

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