In Broadcast - March 2013 - 42


I N T E R N A T I O N A L

WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 17 - MARCH 2013

N E W S

InVIEW

Creatives Push Limits Of Calm Act
Now that the Calm Act is mandate and enforcement has theoretically begun, the “perceived loudness”
of advertising spots on television should be generally acceptable to most viewers. Getting there,
however, has been far from easy at this point…

By Michael Grotticelli
Contributing Editor

F

42

or the most part, stations have
spent the effort (and money) to
implement safeguards that ensure
proper audio levels, as mandated in
the Calm Act. But the audio levels
of the original commercial spots
and other content being ingested
at TV stations on a daily basis are
all over the spectrum, engineers say.
That’s because there are probably
as many ways of monitoring and
adjusting audio levels as there are
professional mixers tasked with
doing it.
Add to that the general perception
across the advertising community
that loudness is really someone
else’s issue, namely the local
stations and cable TV outlets that
distribute it, and you begin to see
broadcasters’ concerns. They are
the ones that risk being fined by the
FCC, not the original content creator.
After speaking with companies that
deliver ads electronically to stations
– in the form of a digital file – you
get the impression that there is still
much work to be done to get all
of those involved with mixing the
original piece to readily comply with
the law and provide content that
does not have to be adjusted at the
station before broadcast.
“The audio post houses don’t
seem to have their hands around
this yet,” said Wayne Dykes, CEO
of SpotGenie, an advertising delivery
service in Atlanta Ga. “We get
spots quite frequently that are not
compliant with the Calm Act and we
either try to auto-fix them ourselves

Wayne Dykes
CEO
SpotGenie

get spots
“…We frequently that
quite
are not compliant
with the Calm Act.

”

or, if time permits, we kick it back.
But if we’re up against an airdate, we
have to fix it ourselves, which brings
up a number of creative issues.”

Passing The Buck

Indeed, the creative part of the
commercial industry has balked
at having any elements of their
ads regulated by the government.
Before President Obama signed
the Calm Act into law (in 2010),
the ad communit y lobbied
against mandated audio levels.
Apparently, creatives are not good
at adhering to rules.
“I know the deadline has come
and passed for the Calm Act to
be enforced, but we still see some
people dragging their heels and not
doing anything differently,” Dykes
said. “You have to remember that
the audio post house is trying to
impress their client in the mixing
suite, so the higher level is key to
a good listening experience. Once
the client approves
the spot, the
post house
feels its job is
done and sends
it along down
the chain for
someone else
to worry about.”
Passing the
buck appears to
be the prevailing
strategy, since
the FCC has
stated
that
the entity that
delivers the spot
is the one that will
TC Electronic's TouchMonitor TM9 audio monitor
be fined if viewers

Calm Act – There is still much work to be done to get all of those involved to
readily comply with the law…

complain. If professional mixers are
following the -10 db spec that the
industry has always adhered to, it
can easily be fixed to comply with
the -24 LKFS spec mandated as
part of the Calm Act. Yet Dykes said
he regularly sees local and national
spot audio levels a lot higher than
that.
“I think producers are starting to
understand that if their levels are
way out of spec, someone along the
broadcast chain is going to squash
that audio to make it compliant and
that compromises the integrity of
that ad,” said Robert Haskitt, Chief
Marketing Officer at Extreme Reach,
a web and TV advertising delivery,
management and measurement
company based in Needham, Mass.
“No one wants to risk a fine by the
government. So, what we would
prefer is to have a conversation
with a broadcaster to make sure
everyone’s goals are met. We never
want to miss an air date because the
audio level is too high.”
Extreme Reach works with over
1,000 post-production houses
around the country and finds
audio levels are all over the place.
At this point, Haskitt said, most are
compliant, but 15-20% need some
type of audio fix. Some ads go
directly from an editor’s workstation
at a post house to a cloud-based
server operated by Extreme Reach
and then on to the final broadcast
outlet. This can happen within
minutes. Other times an ad has
to be remixed, which takes extra
time and money.
“When it comes to audio levels,
our spec is based on the Calm
Act,” Haskitt said. “Up until the
last year, we have been monitoring
peak levels and reporting if they
exceeded a certain level. The Calm

Act is more about the average level
across commercials. As everyone
has been trying to work on ways
to keep content compliant, we
have been able to implement so
automated spec check to make sure
the audio level meets the spec of -24
LKFS. If it does not, Extreme Reach
will try to fix it on a minor level (within
+/- 2 db). If it falls out of that spec
our system can adjust it, but if it’s
nowhere close, we push it back to
the post house for additional mixing.
We don't want to step in someone’s
creative vision, so it’s a good policy
to let the post house fix it before it
is broadcast.”
SpotGenie also works with
thousands of post houses (and
serves ads to some 3,000 broadcast
and cable outlets) and can fix
minor problems automatically with
transcoding technology like Rhozet’s
Carbon Coder and Telestream’s
FlipFactory. The company uses
proprietary software to QC all files
as they come into its facility and
alert them to problems with either
the video or audio.
“Either we fix it or the station does,”
Dykes said. “However, in applying
these auto fixes, we have seen
cases where it definitely affects the
original mix.”

Creative Goals
They recently had a client that
advertised during the BCS college
national championship game. The
client heard their spots on air during
the ESPN broadcast and called
Extreme Reach to complain. They
said the mix sounded differently
than it had in the studio. Haskitt said
they explained that this is common
after a spot goes through the
CONTINUED ON PAGE 44


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - March 2013

In Broadcast - March 2013
Contents
InNews: Red TX Records for War of the Worlds
InNews: Sky News Reports Live Using iPhone in China
InPreview: TV Connect – The Global Ecosystem Show
InView: in Good Company – Jump PR
InGear: TSL Professional Products – Solutions for Acquisition Through to Delivery
InGear: Belden Extends Mic Cables Line
InMedia: Post Asylum Centres on Smoke Workflow
InMedia: Carrier ID & Broadcasters
InMedia: Satellite Broadcasters’ Present United Front
InFile: Save Time on Video Management
In Broadcast - March 2013 - Intro
In Broadcast - March 2013 - In Broadcast - March 2013
In Broadcast - March 2013 - Cover2
In Broadcast - March 2013 - Contents
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InNews: Red TX Records for War of the Worlds
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 5
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InNews: Sky News Reports Live Using iPhone in China
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 7
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 8
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 9
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 10
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 11
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 12
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 13
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 14
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 15
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 16
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 17
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 18
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 19
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 20
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 21
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 22
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 23
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 24
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 25
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 26
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 27
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 28
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 29
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 30
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 31
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InPreview: TV Connect – The Global Ecosystem Show
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 33
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 34
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 35
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 36
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 37
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 38
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 39
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 40
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 41
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 42
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 43
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 44
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 45
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InView: in Good Company – Jump PR
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 47
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InGear: TSL Professional Products – Solutions for Acquisition Through to Delivery
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 49
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 50
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 51
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 52
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 53
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InGear: Belden Extends Mic Cables Line
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 55
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 56
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 57
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 58
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 59
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 60
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 61
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 62
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 63
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 64
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 65
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 66
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 67
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 68
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 69
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 70
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 71
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 72
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 73
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 74
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 75
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InMedia: Post Asylum Centres on Smoke Workflow
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 77
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 78
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 79
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 80
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 81
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 82
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 83
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 84
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 85
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 86
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 87
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InMedia: Carrier ID & Broadcasters
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InMedia: Satellite Broadcasters’ Present United Front
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 90
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 91
In Broadcast - March 2013 - InFile: Save Time on Video Management
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 93
In Broadcast - March 2013 - 94
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S1
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S2
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S3
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S4
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S5
In Broadcast - March 2013 - S6
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