Originally Posted by dicey
I can't name names, but I was told about the 'iPod mix' (actually, he called it the Discman mix, I just updated it) by a senior executive at Warner Bros Music. And he said the same held true for home-theater mixes as well.
I'm not going to argue about the music industries practices... it's an entirely different medium, with absolutely no standard, where the song is
the commerce... you have to make the product stand out, for better or worse, and I'm not going to get into the debate about that, because it's no secret what most popular music sounds like and how it is produced.
But a senior executive from WBMG has no idea what the standard operating practices are for the home theater division..
I may not be an insider, but I have a few friends who are, and I have heard many uncompressed theatrical mixes of films such as Avatar, TDK, Iron Man, 300 and many others (they were on encrypted screener-type BD50s with high-res PCM soundtracks) that were played back on a SOTA home-theater system (Magico speakers, mbl amps, custom 15" subs, etc) and the difference between them and the consumer versions was night and day
in both dynamic range and audible resolution. Even the dialog
was significantly more powerful. On the consumer BD 0f 300, when Gerard Butler yells "This is Sparta!", it is at roughly the same volume as the rest of his dialog, but on the theatrical-mix BD, it got at least 10dB louder than his speaking voice level and actually sounded like he was really yelling right to my face! It was awesome! And don't get me started on the differences in bass....
Now don't get me wrong, there are a precious few BDs and DVDs that actually have true high dynamic range soundtracks and sound very close to/identical to the theatrical versions (of which, most of them have been discussed on this thread).
My point is, that all
of our favorite movies should sound every bit as good as their theatrical masters do. Why they so rarely do is a question that I'm afraid has no good answer.
This shouldn't get into a lengthy debate.... if you have even been to a near field mix, you would understand what does and doesn't happen.
But there is a more fundamental point, and a "good" answer to your comment..
As good as everyone systems are/can be, they aren't cinemas...
The fact that the SPL standard is different, as is the eq curve, as are other things... there are good reasons why a film should have a presentation that it tailored for an environment that isn't a cinema....
When you lower the SPL standard, from 85 to 80 or 75, you will sometimes lose dialog and low level ambiences...
You (mistakenly) assume that reducing the dynamic range comes from the use of compressors, where it is usually a simple raising up of what will fall into the noise floor...
While there is a true debate to be had about the ULF content,or lack thereof, in TF3, anyone who claims it is lacking, or compromised, in dynamic range needs to have their heads examined.
BTW.. I've mixed over 130 films... of those, 115+ were presented on home video with the original theatrical print master.. on the ones that weren't, I supervised all but 2 of them.
It's not a dirty little secret, we are all involved (for the most part) and it isn't the travesty or debacle you are making it out to be....
You made the assertion that we are mixing for the lowest common denominator... that is not true at all... when we do a near filed mix, or re-master, we use setups that are better than 99% of home theaters in a controlled environment... we do, however, monitor at the home theater standard..
The end result is taking what started out as an amazing and powerful theatrical master or stereo music master (@30-40dB RMS DR for most action movie scenes in all channels and @15-30dB for most rock/pop/hip-hop songs) and smashing that down to 1/4 (or less!) of what it started out as
That's just not true, once again... usually, on the louder films, you will raise up low level ambiences and dialog (and the Greg Russell video, if you pay attention and listen to what he says, confirms this) by 1 to 3 db, and lower loud sections by as much (or little, IMO)... that isn't a 75% reduction in dynamic range... and if you lower things, it usually only because your are out of bits/clipping.
And you once again need to stop putting music and films in the same category.. the production practices and mastering processes are two vastly different creatures...
I can't change the fact that home theater has a different SPL reference, and neither can you.. add to that fact that the room is almost (greater than 99.9% of the time) going to be a large percentage smaller than even the smallest cinema, and there is no x-curve, etc... the reasons why most studios spend the money and resources to make an optimized mix for the consumer become fairly obvious.
You accuse the studios of laziness and cheapness.. that certainly isn't the case, or all they would do would be to put the theatrical mix on all releases... a near field/HT mix isn't cheap by any means. (and if you're suggesting they put both versions on the BR, I think that would be a great waste of space and bandwidth, IMO.)
I know my post won't get very far with most.... there are a lot of AVS'ers who will point out that they spent a ton of money on their rooms and gear, and want what we playback on the dub stage...
If the standards, tunings and spaces were the same, I'd agree... but they are not.
And while the point of this thread is to celebrate fantastic low end, and sometimes decry the lack of it, there is much to be celebrated in what is available to consumers in this day and age, and I think your post, while raising some good points (if they were in fact what is going on, and IMO and experience it is not), dismisses the 99% of things we get right as a creative audio community in our goals of helping directors tell their stories through sound.