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Festival requested DCP with audio level changes
Old 13th January 2015
  #1
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michaelfbates's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Festival requested DCP with audio level changes

Hi all,

I hope you can help me with this as I had an unpleasant experience at a film festival last night.

I went to a screening at the London Short Film Festival last night of a short I worked on as sound editor and mixer.

Unfortunately, I was appalled whilst watching it to hear the film being played back at what I estimated at the time to be 8-10dB quieter than it was mixed.

Strangely, the other films in the programme were OK, although some were a little on the quiet side but nothing as horrific as ours was.

I was obviously mortified but the director insisted it must have been an error with the DCP and the producer had seen it elsewhere and said it played back at other screenings as mixed.

I asked the director to send me the DCP guidelines he had mentioned as he said they had included something about sound levels.

Looking at them today, it seems the festival gave out a guide to making a DCP at home that included the request to use the DCP software to measure peak levels and to drop the overall level so that no peak went over -10dBFS.

Those guidelines here: https://www.cinebox.co/doc/dcp

Checking the peaks of the mix quickly in Snapper I see that this means the mix was dropped by 7.5dB to fit in these guidelines, hence playing back so quietly. However, I'm not sure why the other films were not similarly effected, unless they either didn't follow the guidelines, had no peaks at all over -10dBFS or had the DCP made by a post house who wouldn't have changed the mix.

Basically, my question is:

Is this requirement as ridiculous as it seems to be to me? Because it looks to me like it would obviously destroy any film with a dynamic mix. Although I get that they are probably trying to protect themselves against poorly mixed and overly loud films.

Secondly, is this kind of level change actually normal in DCP creation? I've never been involved with that before so I'm not sure if this is standard.

Essentially, I like some help on whether I should be really worried about this or put it down to poor technical support from the festival.

Thanks for your help.
Old 13th January 2015
  #2
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pethenis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
I'm not sure why the other films were not similarly effected, unless they either didn't follow the guidelines, had no peaks at all over -10dBFS or had the DCP made by a post house who wouldn't have changed the mix.
Probably this, the site where they give the link to the Open Source DCP-software looks a lot like "DCP for Dummies" to me. But it's free...
Old 13th January 2015
  #3
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Henchman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If they don't wanat peaks over -10, I suggest you audio suite a limiter on your final mix set to -10, and see what it sounds like just for this type of delivery.
Old 13th January 2015
  #4
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🎧 10 years
I'd say that site is either misinformed or uninformed about audio standards. If the festival has a peak requirement they should specify that in their delivery specs but for a DCP having a peak dBFS level makes no sense.
Old 13th January 2015
  #5
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Farhoof's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
These types of festivals get content from all over the place, ranging from a professional audio mix to the basic sound edit from the Adobe Premiere timeline, so I understand where it's coming from. But the solution is not the have filmmakers create their own DCP files, it's the exact opposite(!) This is everyone bringing in their homemade DVD all over again. This guide is very well written (targeting 'dummies') with the best intentions, without doubt. But a DCP should be made by a post house experienced in creating DCP's, familiar with different types of colorspace, telling you the H264 is not sufficient, have a basic understanding about audio and know when it's actually mixed it should be left untouched. The DCP should be checked on a playback system (usually part of the post house) where it's checked by producer/director/editor/colorist/mixer/etc for errors, artifacts, technical challenges, on a cinema grade projector using a calibrated audio system. All this so you can go to any festival in the world, hit play, and relax. This is what the LSFF technical manager should be telling you.

Again, I understand their willingness to help filmmakers, keep the costs low, and not receive a fullscale soundmix on a low budget short, but this is not the way to do that. Now someone followed this guide, the playback was terrible, and the festival is to blame. Our local festival made a deal with a DCP posthouse; anything sent in not already DCP get's transferred to DCP by the post house. This way the home made exports and mixes get looked at by professionals and the producer/filmmaker can be called for appropriate actions.
Old 14th January 2015
  #6
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minister's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That's just disheartening and wrong. Never heard of a Festival doing this.

But I suppose it is the result of hundreds of films (especially shorts) not getting mixed properly. So many of them are mixed in tiny rooms with under-powered speakers by well-meaning but less-than-knowledgeable people. It sucks for the people who do know how to mix because you are competing against slammed-to-the-hilt and overly bright mixes. They should have said something in the deliverables and let you mix to that spec. But, it just is the wrong way to go.............
Old 14th January 2015
  #7
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🎧 5 years
After years of a reasonable standard monitored and policed by Dolby (ok not perfect) we are now well and truly in the weeds. Its going to get a lot worse as "cinema" content accepted from an even greater range of sources. Back to the audio wild west Im afraid..
Old 14th January 2015
  #8
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michaelfbates's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
First up, thanks so much to all of you for replying and for the help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman ➡️
If they don't wanat peaks over -10, I suggest you audio suite a limiter on your final mix set to -10, and see what it sounds like just for this type of delivery.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smurfyou ➡️
I'd say that site is either misinformed or uninformed about audio standards. If the festival has a peak requirement they should specify that in their delivery specs but for a DCP having a peak dBFS level makes no sense.
Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
They should have said something in the deliverables and let you mix to that spec.
Unfortunately, I suspect that this guide was their delivery specs and I didn't see it until after the screening! Also, we only had one screening there so I can't even fix it for subsequent screenings.

I've asked the director to trash the DCP he made for them and in the future to tell me if festivals ask him to change audio levels so that I can at least have a chance to tell them why they're wrong and then deal with it myself if they insist.

It's so frustrating, because they obviously didn't check any of the films in the theatre before the screening otherwise they would have realised something was up.

I'm wondering whether a strongly worded e-mail to the technical manager is in order...
Old 14th January 2015
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I would advise against a strongly worded email, that would probably cause animosity unless it was coming from a director. I would present the problem with the current guidelines in a clear manner and advise them to recommend submissions be mixed to current industry standards. Or if they really want a level spec to give a loudness range not a peak.
Old 15th January 2015
  #10
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
A couple of points and lessons to be taken from this:

1. With the exception of the highest tier festivals like Sundance, Cannes and a few others, most film festivals IME are not really "Film" festivals, they are essentially amateur Video festivals! Assuming standard film specs at a video festival is therefore not necessarily logical and can lead to a disappointing screening experience.

2. Always, always get up to date delivery specs BEFORE you start! Audio delivery specs for film festivals are often unclear, incomplete or even non-existent, in which case a discussion with the Producer before you start is in order. The discussion would need to include point 1 and that without specific guidelines your advice on mix levels, etc., is at best an educated guess, rather than a guarantee that the levels will be correct.

3. Make clear that you cannot be held responsible for any changes made to the audio after you have delivered it (say in the authoring process) or any changes made to the playback chain which would render the delivery specs inappropriate.

To be honest, although I do not like or support the LSFF solution it is better than some I've seen, such as just whack the playback chain output level down to some arbitrary and ridiculously low level (and leave it there) or just leave the output level at the usual cinema setting and have the audience run out with their hands over their ears when a short is screened which has been mixed at roughly the same level as a commercial EDM track.

G
Old 15th January 2015 | Show parent
  #11
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minister's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregorioM ➡️
A couple of points and lessons to be taken from this:

1. With the exception of the highest tier festivals like Sundance, Cannes and a few others, most film festivals IME are not really "Film" festivals, they are essentially amateur Video festivals! Assuming standard film specs at a video festival is therefore not necessarily logical and can lead to a disappointing screening experience.
VERY True. The better festivals are setup by Dolby or some other very good company. The others are a crap shoot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GregorioM ➡️
2. Always, always get up to date delivery specs BEFORE you start! Audio delivery specs for film festivals are often unclear, incomplete or even non-existent, in which case a discussion with the Producer before you start is in order.
What filmmakers come to you with a slate of Festivals already lined up? MOST of the time they come to me with a film they are working on finishing and once finished, THEN they submit it to Festivals. Yes, I have had some that submitted and got into festivals just as we start work on it, but that is the exception.
Old 15th January 2015
  #12
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michaelfbates's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by smurfyou ➡️
I would advise against a strongly worded email, that would probably cause animosity unless it was coming from a director. I would present the problem with the current guidelines in a clear manner and advise them to recommend submissions be mixed to current industry standards. Or if they really want a level spec to give a loudness range not a peak.
This is what I meant by a strongly worded email really, I wasn't about to let the guy really have it! The loudness range is a good suggestion, I'm sure even for very inexperienced people running a mix through a loudness meter and adjusting would be as easy as their current guidelines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GregorioM ➡️
A couple of points and lessons to be taken from this:

1. With the exception of the highest tier festivals like Sundance, Cannes and a few others, most film festivals IME are not really "Film" festivals, they are essentially amateur Video festivals! Assuming standard film specs at a video festival is therefore not necessarily logical and can lead to a disappointing screening experience.

2. Always, always get up to date delivery specs BEFORE you start! Audio delivery specs for film festivals are often unclear, incomplete or even non-existent, in which case a discussion with the Producer before you start is in order. The discussion would need to include point 1 and that without specific guidelines your advice on mix levels, etc., is at best an educated guess, rather than a guarantee that the levels will be correct.

3. Make clear that you cannot be held responsible for any changes made to the audio after you have delivered it (say in the authoring process) or any changes made to the playback chain which would render the delivery specs inappropriate.
1. I agree that standards in the wilds of film festivals can start to lose their meaning but I don't want to start pumping out loud mixes with no dynamic range just to satisfy the poor standards of some of these festivals. LSFF shows all its films in commercial cinemas, so I think it's reasonable to assume that a "film mix" would be appropriate.

2. In this case I wasn't mixing just for this festival and I didn't see festival audio delivery specs before I mixed, so my delivery specs were just to produce a mix that would translate to theatres. I've told the producers before that cinemas don't all sound the same and that playback levels can be different.

3. I'm not being held responsible as the producer and director had seen the film at other screenings and knew that this one was an anomaly, but I do make it clear to clients that I don't change mixes based on poor playback chains at their end.

I think the problem with the audio section of the DCP guide is that it isn't presented as delivery specs but as something that's necessary to create the DCP. Actually, in this case I was under the impression that a DCP was being created by the post house doing the picture post, so I was very surprised to see that they created their own DCP at home for the LSFF. Obviously, this whole situation is somewhat on me for not making it adequately clear to the director and producers that any changes to the sound mix should at least be mentioned to me to avoid any issues.
Old 15th January 2015
  #13
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michaelfbates's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
What filmmakers come to you with a slate of Festivals already lined up? MOST of the time they come to me with a film they are working on finishing and once finished, THEN they submit it to Festivals. Yes, I have had some that submitted and got into festivals just as we start work on it, but that is the exception.
Just what I was thinking! The closest I've got to knowing what festival a film I'm working on will be in is when the filmmakers have a relationship with the festival, have given them an outline and got an interested reaction from that. I'm certainly not mixing to specific festival specs.
Old 15th January 2015 | Show parent
  #14
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minister's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
1. I agree that standards in the wilds of film festivals can start to lose their meaning but I don't want to start pumping out loud mixes with no dynamic range just to satisfy the poor standards of some of these festivals. LSFF shows all its films in commercial cinemas, so I think it's reasonable to assume that a "film mix" would be appropriate.
That's a reasonable assumption to me! I have never heard of a DCP "altering" the mix. One of the beauties of DCP is the audio is AS IS!

*sigh*

sidebar: a couple of years ago I saw back-to-back versions of a film off of BluRay then DCP. This was a tech check screening. The BluRay looked pretty good, but MAN! the DCP was another universe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
2. In this case I wasn't mixing just for this festival and I didn't see festival audio delivery specs before I mixed, so my delivery specs were just to produce a mix that would translate to theatres. I've told the producers before that cinemas don't all sound the same and that playback levels can be different.
Again totally reasonable. I also explain about differences in theatrical environments. Along with, "You will probably never hear it better than here." Recently we had a film in Theaters across the country and in 8 theaters here. It played back (both picture and sound) completely differently in most theaters and only CORRECTLY in 2 !

I have also worked with some well-travelled "Hollywood" Producers on a few things and MOST (not all) don't know anything either! It's our job to find out as much as we can, keep learning, and help educate our clients.
Old 16th January 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I saw that too as did a mix for and film being entered. In the end they showed it in the "Attic" at Hackney Picturehouse which can only play QuickTimes. God knows what happened.

Basically limiting a film to -10dBFS will have a different result to lowering a film so that peaks are -10dBFS. Perhaps some mixes were limited rather than reduced.

Either way, it's certainly not standard procedure. A lot of cinemas (the Barbican being one) now make DCPs for screenings if you provide them with a QuickTime. They then take it upon themselves to adjust the audio if they want to.

I had a mix where the first DCP had distorted sound (my mix was fine) then they made another too quiet. This is the problem with some DCP software having the ability to change the audio level. Frankly that shouldn't be an option.

As a result, I now always insist on making DCPs myself, where possible. It's better than this sort of thing happening.

It would make far more sense for LSFF so have a LUFS figure in their spec and work to that, rather than set the limit for peaks. It doesn't currently solve the problem of mixes at various levels at all.
Old 16th January 2015 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pethenis ➡️
Probably this, the site where they give the link to the Open Source DCP-software looks a lot like "DCP for Dummies" to me. But it's free...
The guide telling you how to use the software was written by the Festival's "Technical Director" though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
I think the problem with the audio section of the DCP guide is that it isn't presented as delivery specs but as something that's necessary to create the DCP.
Yes, this is definitely misleading. They probably got the figure as the guy who wrote it knows about the old UK broadcast limit of PPM6 = -10dBFS and stuck to it.
Old 16th January 2015 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
LSFF shows all its films in commercial cinemas, so I think it's reasonable to assume that a "film mix" would be appropriate.
I agree with you, it is entirely reasonable to assume that a film mix would be appropriate at a film festival for a film being screened in a commercial cinema. On the other hand, your experience with the LSFF has proven this assumption to be incorrect. I wasn't trying to belittle or "have a go" at you, I was just pointing out that this entirely logical assumption is put in a new light once one realises that many film festivals are in effect video festivals which are just screened in a cinema, rather than actual films.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
I don't want to start pumping out loud mixes with no dynamic range just to satisfy the poor standards of some of these festivals.
Again I agree, given the opportunity, what experienced mixer would not want to take creative advantage of the dynamic range of a commercial theatrical playback system? On the other hand, in this instance you not only effectively lost 8-10dB of dynamic range anyway but your whole mix ended up being 8dB or so too quiet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
What filmmakers come to you with a slate of Festivals already lined up?
In my case I do get quite a few filmmakers who are aiming at a specific festival. Even when this isn't the case, they usually have a good idea of the type/level of festivals they're aiming for, which can (sometimes) provide some vague indications of appropriate specs to work to.

I'm not suggesting that one should approach all of the non-premier festivals as video festivals and therefore automatically create a video mix rather than a film mix. I'm suggesting that given incomplete or non-existent specs, due to some festivals not really having complete specs and/or the filmmakers not knowing exactly at which festival/s they're going to screen, then a discussion of the issues with the Producer is a good idea.

IME, the situation with shorts is usually worse than with features, for a variety of reasons, such as; the range of production values, filmmaking experience and budgets are often lower or wider, DIY mixes are generally more common and at some festivals shorts can end up being scheduled or re-scheduled for screening at locations other than the primary theatrical screen more frequently than features. No competent, self-respecting mixer would want to compress a mix for theatrical playback but in practise, loosing a few dB of dynamic range might be the lesser of two evils. By this I mean that time, budget and the festivals being targeted can result in a choice between our primary goal being to take the risk of impressing the audience with a commercial quality theatrical mix or to maximise the probability of at least a half decent screening. In theory we should be able to comply with both these goals simultaneously but in practice that's often not the case. I've personally found a discussion with the producer of these issues; of the pros, cons, risks and likely outcomes, and then the producer making an informed decision of an audio spec for me to work to, usually results in a more realistic level of expectation and fewer disappointments/disagreements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelfbates ➡️
I think the problem with the audio section of the DCP guide is that it isn't presented as delivery specs but as something that's necessary to create the DCP.
Like you, I think the way the specs have been presented by the LSFF is particularly poor. I've never seen this spec or this way of presenting a spec before, although it is arguably better than just turning the output chain down by an arbitrary amount. Apart from obviously improving how they present the spec, I'm not sure what the solution to the spec itself is. An integrated LUFS target, as already suggested, would seem the best solution but I'm not sure how practical it would be to implement. I think most festivals would find themselves having to reject the vast majority of submissions purely on the grounds of non audio compliance, something many festivals would want to avoid as they often regard shorts as at least partly a platform for younger, less experienced and/or more budget restricted filmmaking talent.

G
Old 16th January 2015 | Show parent
  #18
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minister's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregorioM ➡️
In my case I do get quite a few filmmakers who are aiming at a specific festival. Even when this isn't the case, they usually have a good idea of the type/level of festivals they're aiming for, which can (sometimes) provide some vague indications of appropriate specs to work to.

I'm not suggesting that one should approach all of the non-premier festivals as video festivals and therefore automatically create a video mix rather than a film mix. I'm suggesting that given incomplete or non-existent specs, due to some festivals not really having complete specs and/or the filmmakers not knowing exactly at which festival/s they're going to screen, then a discussion of the issues with the Producer is a good idea.
I am not sure I completely follow you.... I know there are A level festivals : Cannes, Rotterdam, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance etc. And B level Festivals. And I do work on some films that are shooting for and going to A level fests, and I work on some that play at B level and below. Are you saying that if you know that a film won't go to an A level festival you will mix it differently? I certainly don't. If it is going to a Theatrical Fest, I give it a theatrical mix; doesn't matter if it is A or B or C.

And what specs are there other than the file type? I have never seen a loudness spec for a theatrical festival. The Original Post is the first I have ever seen of a Festival imposing a Peak Limit hidden in the DCP authoring.
Old 16th January 2015 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
And what specs are there other than the file type? I have never seen a loudness spec for a theatrical festival. The Original Post is the first I have ever seen of a Festival imposing a Peak Limit hidden in the DCP authoring.

^^^^^^This ^^^^^^
Old 16th January 2015 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
Are you saying that if you know that a film won't go to an A level festival you will mix it differently?
As a default position, no, I'll give a theatrical mix. However, under certain circumstances I have and will mix it differently. Anything from delivering just a slightly conservative theatrical mix to being on occasion relatively severe, IE., more like a broadcast TV level mix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
I certainly don't. If it is going to a Theatrical Fest, I give it a theatrical mix;
Even if you know it's effectively a video fest just marketing itself as a film fest?

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister ➡️
I have never seen a loudness spec for a theatrical festival. The Original Post is the first I have ever seen of a Festival imposing a Peak Limit hidden in the DCP authoring.
Same here. I'm not saying there are specific published specs but that a more appropriate spec can sometimes be inferred. At the lower tier festivals many shorts are often screened from consumer BluRay or even DVD players which have been jerry rigged into the cinema audio processor by the local pub live sound engineer!

I'll usually have a discussion with the producer which can result in me working to a hotter than customary theatrical spec. In a few cases, for example where I have personal experience of the fest and how they setup their system, I might strongly advise a producer to agree to a far more compressed, TV type mix, which obviously isn't ideal but which I know from experience will actually playout better.

G
Old 16th January 2015
  #21
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Secondly, is this kind of level change actually normal in DCP creation? I've never been involved with that before so I'm not sure if this is standard.
The audio should not be altered during the DCP creation process. In this case, the software is trying to be helpful and normalize audio levels from content that may have been meant for other distribution, like the web. It's probably more geared toward theater exhibitors that are getting content from these various sources. In a pure workflow, audio is handle in the DCDM and all the adjustments are made prior to starting the DCP creation.

The DCI describes the following reference levels:

Digital inputs and outputs shall have a nominal reference level of -20 dBFS (decibel below full scale) and output 85 dBc (decibels refenced to the carrier) sound pressure level per channel measured with pink noise.
Old 9th March 2018
  #22
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Hi.

This is a very old thread, but I just saw it.

I am the technical manager of London Short Film Festival, and the author of the "how to make a DCP" guide the OP referred to.

First off, I'm really sorry to hear that the film did not screen as intended.

And why indeed did the DCP-making guide I wrote suggest adjusting peak audio levels to -10dB in DCP-o-matic?

A little bit of context: 2015 was the first year that LSFF went DCP. Prior to that year, most screenings had been from Digibeta. To say that we had teething problems with the transition to DCP would be understating it. There were 500 films in the festival that year, the task of getting them all to screen was massive, and it was pretty chaotic. We were pretty overwhelmed.

I am very pleased to say that these days it's a completely different story. It's now a very slick, well-oiled machine and at this year's festival the feedback from filmmakers was that they were extremely pleased with how their films looked and sounded in the cinemas. I'm not aware of any film that screened incorrectly, and we didn't get a single complaint from filmmakers. That may not sound like a very high bar to set as success - no-one complained! - but it's a feat not many festivals of this size achieve. It takes very diligent processes and careful work by a lot of people not to allow even one mistake to slip through the net.

LSFF is a funny beast. The mix of films is very wide. At one end of the spectrum there are well-budgeted films which have been through a full post-house grade, mix and online; at the other end there's plenty of zero-budget films which have been mixed on headphones on the director's laptop and there's been no online process at all. So devising delivery guidelines that fit that whole range is very challenging.

LSFF also has a rather DIY ethic, and in 2015 we felt it was in keeping with that ethos to encourage filmmakers to seize the means of production and empower them make their own DCPs with free software like DCP-o-matic, rather than force them to go to post houses who were charging people £1000+ to make a short DCP. In many cases, that sum would be more than the entire budget for the film! The festival at that time was run on a shoestring by a small group of very committed and underpaid people. The festival certainly did not have the resources to make DCPs for all the filmmakers.

The DCP-making guide was written, as one person has commented above, very much as a "dummies guide". It aimed to be unthreatening and to make it as simple as possible for non-technical people to do a decent job of making a DCP while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

Which brings me to the -10dB question. We'd found it was a common problem that the mixes people were putting into DCP-o-matic were too "hot". Perhaps there was a bug in DCP-o-matic at that time, or perhaps it was that mixes peaking on 0dB had "true peak" above 0dB. But the result was that we were seeing a lot of DCPs that had distorted audio. To avoid this problem, we wanted to ensure people attenuated the audio so the peaks were well below 0dB.

But why -10dB? The answer is really unscientific. In DCP-o-matic there's an audio waveform display which has horizontal lines at 0dB, -10dB, -20dB, -30dB. To make it really simple for people, we said no peaks above -10dB because this was easy to explain and easy to see on the waveform display - if everything was below the -10dB line it was "good", if anything went above that line it was "bad".

Obviously, this would lead to very different loudness between films with varying dynamic ranges in their mixes. The intention was that each film would be then adjusted up or down by cinema projection so all the films in a programme played at the same volume. All the cinemas were briefed on this.

In the case of the OP's film, obviously the cinema didn't manage to do this properly. However, just to be clear, I'm not laying the blame with the cinema's projectionists. As I mentioned above, the delivery of the festival that year was pretty chaotic, and some films were delivered to cinemas only days before the screenings. Given how messy it all was, and how little time there was for cinemas to screen-test, it was inevitable that the ball would get dropped somewhere - as it clearly was in this case. I take responsibility for that, and I'm sorry.

Concerning the points made above that filmmakers should get their DCP made professionally: I've changed my position on this since 2015, and we no longer encourage people to make their own DCPs unless they really know what they're doing, and I've taken down the howto guide.

I do stand by the quality of DCP-o-matic. I think it's a brilliant piece of software, and Carl the author is very responsive to bug reports and puts a huge effort into developing it. It's now at the point where it does an excellent job at all the important parts of the process - colour conversion, J2K encoding - and crashes are very rare. However, you do need to know what you're doing to get it right. And the biggest problem is that most people can't play back a DCP once it's made, so you're essentially they are "flying blind".

Our process now at LSFF and the other festivals we (Cinebox) manage tech for is: receive films either as DCP or ProRes or whatever is the best quality version of the film available, and where a DCP needs to be made, we make it ourselves. Regardless of whether filmmakers deliver DCP or ProRes, we do a very thorough QC. We typically reject 30% of materials due to problems found in QC, and we advise filmmakers how to resolve these problems, or fix them ourselves where we can. Essentially, for many lower budget films, we play the role of online edit and mastering. We feel this is an important role in helping people get their films to screen looking and sounding their best, and as a festival LSFF are proud to be able to support independent and low-budget filmmakers in this way.

In short, we've come a long way in the past 3 years!

Sorry I didn't see this post and respond at the time. Of course it's now rather too late! But I hope this explanation makes sense and may be of interest to anyone who happens across this post in future.
Old 9th March 2018
  #23
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🎧 15 years
A few years ago, I received an angry phone call from the producer of a short film I had mixed. Apparently, at the stakeholders screening, the audio levels were so low it was a disaster.
It turned out, the dude who made the DCP lowered the mix by 24dbs because it was too hot! Lucky we caught it before it shipped out to festivals.

Since then, I demand a DCP screening for each film regardless of who made the DCP.
Old 10th March 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
 
iluvcapra's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Festival law: -12dbFS = 0 VU. Festivals are passionate about making hiding mediocre sound and making good sound work look bad.

Last edited by iluvcapra; 10th March 2018 at 09:39 AM..
Old 12th March 2018 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Each film in a shorts program should be assigned it's own fader value for playback by a festival technician and it should be adjusted between shorts by the projectionist (I've had shorts play anywhere from 3.6 to 8.5 on the dolby fader). Home brew DCP's are almost universally disastrous, filmmakers should employ a DCP author who is an expert with EasyDCP. Even then, filmmakers should check their finished DCPs in a calibrated DCI environment before sending them to festival. Anything less is a roll of the dice.
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