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The amount of compression in some recent film/tv series's mixes

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I first noticed this peculiar (large) use of compression on dialogue, ambience and fx stems on "The Neon Demon" film, and since then I've seen/heard it on several films and tv series (Personal Shopper, Bates Motel, The Duke of Burgundy...) and more often in commercials and movie trailers where everything sounds "in your face".

 

 

 

 


Anyone noticed that too?

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If you want to listen to dynamic mixes, you will, if at all, only get them in cinemas. DVD, TV and Web releases always get additional compression. Sometimes you find the DCP mix on Blu-rays. But the problem is that, YES dynamic mixes sound better, but only if you listen to them at an appropriate loudness. Usually that is too loud for home theaters, so you turn it down. But if you turn it down, you will barely understand the quiet parts. So you need compression to bring up the quiet parts to an appropriate level (or tame the loud parts). That way you can watch a movie at low levels and still understand every word. Your third example sounds (and looks) like it has been ripped from a poor quality version, re-rendered several times and re-compressed everytime, uploaded to Youtube with additional data compression. I've never heard a movie/series that bad in its original quality tbh.

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1 hour ago, OnTheSoundSideOfLife said:

If you want to listen to dynamic mixes, you will, if at all, only get them in cinemas. DVD, TV and Web releases always get additional compression. Sometimes you find the DCP mix on Blu-rays. But the problem is that, YES dynamic mixes sound better, but only if you listen to them at an appropriate loudness. Usually that is too loud for home theaters, so you turn it down. But if you turn it down, you will barely understand the quiet parts. So you need compression to bring up the quiet parts to an appropriate level (or tame the loud parts). That way you can watch a movie at low levels and still understand every word. Your third example sounds (and looks) like it has been ripped from a poor quality version, re-rendered several times and re-compressed everytime, uploaded to Youtube with additional data compression. I've never heard a movie/series that bad in its original quality tbh.

 

Yes, after experimenting with multiband compression and saturation I got similar results to the first example and it works fine to control the dynamics for mixes that will be played on domestic sound systems. I think it sounds better than a "natural" mix in those enviroments. It helps to make lavs and boom mics sound more similar too. But I guess It wouldn't work fine in a movie theatre. As you mention, they must have a different mix for that.

 

As for the third example... I don't own an original copy, but I checked it from different sources and it always sounds like that. I don't think it sounds bad though, but it's obviously compressed to the max.

 

I wasn't at home when I started the thread and didn't post the second example right lol. I've corrected it now.

 

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I don't believe that the compression used in the first 2 examples was supposed to help with intelligibility and consistency at lower listening levels, I believe it was used as a tone shaping tool similar to what pop music guys do. I personally find it irritating to hear the room getting sucked into the mic during dialog, it actually hurts intelligibility but it does have a "dramatic" effect of sorts. To someone who grew up listening to hyper compressed audio it might actually sound more "normal", but to me it's a distraction. If leveling for consistency is the goal there are much better ways to achieve this than strapping a high ratio compressor across the dialog track.

The third track is just too hilarious  to comment on.

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2 hours ago, Werner Althaus said:

I don't believe that the compression used in the first 2 examples was supposed to help with intelligibility and consistency at lower listening levels, I believe it was used as a tone shaping tool similar to what pop music guys do. I personally find it irritating to hear the room getting sucked into the mic during dialog, it actually hurts intelligibility but it does have a "dramatic" effect of sorts. To someone who grew up listening to hyper compressed audio it might actually sound more "normal", but to me it's a distraction. If leveling for consistency is the goal there are much better ways to achieve this than strapping a high ratio compressor across the dialog track.

The third track is just too hilarious  to comment on.

The third track sounds like a million bucks to the viewing public...   It's sounds like the greatest track ever recorded to them..  I'm not kidding...  

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1 hour ago, afewmoreyears said:

The third track sounds like a million bucks to the viewing public...   It's sounds like the greatest track ever recorded track to them..  I'm not kidding...  

You can hear & understand all the dialog without any problems. That's all that matters to the audience. It's all a creative decision.

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In the third example, they seem to also be fighting a noisy location, so they really need to squeeze the intelligibilty out of the tracks. Also, I'm definitely hearing data compression, that's not a streaming quality example, there's definite degradation in there. None of the examples sound bad to my ear, I think the first example sounds the best because it "breathes" the most. You get a feel for the room and the nuance of the performance. I feel like the more compressed tracks get "croaky", especially with vocal fry, but that's at least in part due to performance. The quieter lines sound less natural.

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 1:07 AM, Ilari Sivil said:

In the third example, they seem to also be fighting a noisy location, so they really need to squeeze the intelligibilty out of the tracks. Also, I'm definitely hearing data compression, that's not a streaming quality example, there's definite degradation in there. None of the examples sound bad to my ear, I think the first example sounds the best because it "breathes" the most. You get a feel for the room and the nuance of the performance. I feel like the more compressed tracks get "croaky", especially with vocal fry, but that's at least in part due to performance. The quieter lines sound less natural.

I don't know if they "squeeze the intelligibility out of the tracks" or whether that's even possible. The 3rd clip sounds to me like watching Colombo on "MeTV" or some other secondary TV channel geared towards nostalgic viewers. I've heard it said many times here that shows like "Colombo" sounded really good because of competent actors projecting well and great boom ops vs lavs everywhere, however these stations, for reasons I can only guess, have turned the soundtrack into an unintelligible mess due to excessive audio compression. The 3rd scene's noisy location may not nearly be as problematic if they only laid off the compression a bit, but the fact that the dialog is still intelligible is a testament to the mixers ability to "proof" his mixes to withstand the abuses the audio may be exposed to downstream.

 I do agree with the comments regarding audiences expectations vs creative decisions, like I said, IMO it's done for effect, not to help with intelligibility. hard to listen to nonetheless.

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