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Why are DVD-V dynamics disappearing?

I know that the issue of dynamics in recent releases has been debated a lot. Although, what I don't quite understand is why DVD-V titles are suffering from this trend as well. Wasn't the whole metadata concept implemented in order to create more options? It is depressing that I enjoy DVDs from a few years back more than recent releases with their current lack of dynamic range. Dolby Digital allows for the end user to select whether or not the audio is compressed within the decoder. I am just a bit curious as to why you think this trend is flooding into an area where it truly is useless. I understand, yet disagree with, why other media is compressed but media including metadata too? Why????? Are producers pushing the rerecording mixers into the loudness game causing the source material to lack dynamic range or is it the production of the DVD neglecting to account for metadata (primarily DRC)?




joe lambert Tue, 05/04/2004 - 18:09


I master audio for DVDV regularly. I will tell you that it's a process that many times the authoring engineer will ask me "why does it need to be mastered?" My point is there is a lack of knowledge on both the record labels and sometimes the authoring house. I have to call and make sure they use the 24bit version I send them. If I don't they have in the past truncated it to 16bits.

Unlike DVDA, DVDVideo does use lossy compression. AC3 encoding does compromise the sound. There is also DTS, MPEG-1 and2 as well as SDDS. Most project I work on are Dolby digital (AC3)

Most DVDV the audio is not the main concern. I work very hard with all the people involved with the projects to let them know the proper way to encode as well as making sure they are keeping it 24bit 48k. It's a battle!

Most projects I do are done at 48K. There is the ability to do 96K. A lot of times I get the audio from the authoring house who as already started working on the video. If they are working at 48K. I need to stay at 48K.

DVDV audio can sound very good. We have worked on some projects that sound great. But as always the end medium is not the only determining factor on the audio quality.

soundfreely Tue, 05/04/2004 - 21:01

Joe, thank you for your reply.

What I am also wondering is why recent DVD-V titles lack the dynamic range of some older titles. Specifically, I am referring to newer movies released on DVD that seem to suffer from the same type of heavy limiting, EQ, and compression as many popular CDs. I was recently enjoying a DVD movie that is about 5 years old and I was absolutely blown away by the dynamics in this movie-- whispers were quiet, screams were loud, and explosions (fireworks actually) really had some significant SPLs behind them. More current movies seem to lack this type of excitement and it is rather depressing. :cry:

Why aren't more recent DVDs released with wide dynamic range when the consumer has the option to compress within the decoder using Dolby's Dynamic Range Control data contained in the Dolby Digital data stream? I am sure I am not the only one who enjoys movies that sound as good as they look. With the advent of metadata contained within the Dolby Digital spec, I don't think that there is a valid arguement for the content producers to continue to demand to "make it louder". The dynamic range compressor (with the parameters controlled by the metadata as I understand it) in the decoder could handle this for consumers who wish to use it yet be turned off by the listener who wishes to enjoy the full dynamic range. Furthermore, if a DTS option is offered on the title, why not leave that at -20 DbFS (or more) since most people aren't playing that through little TV speakers where a wide dynamic range could become an issue?

I was also curious as to whether or not Dolby's "dialnorm" information can be put to use on a DVDV disc. That could solve the issue of level matching of various titles. "Dialnorm" seems as though it is a must for HD broadcasters; although on DVDs, it could solve the "5 disc changer issue" that has plagued many popular CD releases.

I hope that my questions are even relevant to mastering. I get the impression (from Joe Lambert's post) that there might be some type of a disconnect between the DVD authoring houses and the mastering facilities. At what point in the process of creating a DVD title does the work move from the mastering facility to the authoring house? I am no expert yet :wink: -- I'm just trying to get a start working professionally in the audio engineering field and I am full of questions and curiousities.

Also, I am not trying to start the loudness debate up again. :wink: I think with DVDs it is a different issue. There is no need for the battle when one DVD could be either loud or not loud at the discretion of the user.

Thanks much,

PS I just saw Turtletone's post when I hit "preview" and think that answers some of my questions. If it's loud in the theatre, it'll be loud on the DVD too. Ughh!