: walter biscardi's Blog
: Even Network QC gets it wrong sometimes.
So I've been dealing with several issues with an international network that has a primarily European distribution area. We seemed to have everything worked out this morning and suddenly I get a notice from QC that our audio was suddenly rejected as being 8db too hot. 8db too hot!
I'm completely dumbfounded. How can audio on this show, which was professionally mixed, be 8db too hot? We've already delivered three episodes and each passed QC with flying colors and suddenly we screwed up this big?
Of course I check the timeline first and foremost. Tone is -20db, Check. Main show audio rides around -12 to -10db with a few peaks at -8db. Check. Now I check the show we shipped last month. It matches. I check the the other two shows delivered in November and January, they match too. Now if we're 8db over -8, I guess we'd be hitting distortion hell at digital 0 so that would sound pretty bad.
I call my audio designer, Patrick Belden, whom you fans of Good Eats would know as the sound designer of every episode of that series. He brings up the show and a previous episode on his sound system and it all matches there. He's at a loss to explain what could have happened.
So I check in with PostWorks in New York. They handle the 1080i/60 to 1080i/50 conversion for us. Could they have done anything at all that caused our audio to suddenly rise by 8db? This seems unlikely because it's just an SDI transfer from one deck to the other through a Terranex or like converter. Not only does PostWorks take a look at our master in the tape deck, they bring the master into a sound sweetening suite and check all our levels. Everything is spot on to spec.
So I ask the network again, "You say we're 8db too hot, can you please tell me exactly what level we're hitting? -2? -4? 0?" I am going to quote the QC person here on the response:
"Walter the audio level was 4 to 8dB too hot. That means instead of being at -20dB they were between -16 to -12dB. This wasn’t the peak it was the mean. The audio consistently peaked around -12dB. This is all in the digital world so -12dB is 8dB too hot."
Folks, do you see the bold areas? -12db in the digital world is too hot. I really don't know where this QC person got their information and I'm not even going to tell you what my response was to all of this, but suffice it to say, at this point I stopped trying to explain anything. I instructed the Executive Producer of the show to have an engineer explain audio levels as I was not going to.
So folks, in this ever changing world of high definition TV, globalization and what-not, sometimes even the folks reviewing your shows at the networks can get it wrong. I guess it's too much information even for the technical folks.