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Southern Cross Austereo
LM-Correct hits Loudness Targets Every Time
- Original article first appeared in C&T Asia Magazine
LM-Correct Helps Southern Cross Austereo Hit Loudness Targets Every Time
by Steven Fox, Senior Broadcast Engineer, Southern Cross Austereo
Southern Cross Austereo is a regional broadcaster for both television and radio in Australia. Our television services reach most of Australia’s population centers, and we have affiliation arrangements with all of the metropolitan commercial networks to carry their programming to the country’s 30 regional submarkets.
As of Jan. 2013, Australian broadcasters have been subject to Operation Practice 59 (OP-59), which lays out rules for measuring loudness in soundtracks for television broadcasting, and defines loudness as something different from audio level. The new loudness measurements are in addition to the peak metering we already had to do. Covering such a vast geographic area means we handle a diverse mix of programming with a broad range of audio content. We needed a simple tool that would help our editors quickly and easily measure and manage loudness in a wide range of material to ensure we complied with the rules.
In researching possible OP-59 solutions, one of our editors found the LM-Correct loudness analysis and correction tool from NUGEN Audio. After testing it, we knew we had our solution, and now we use LM-Correct in all of our editing suites. Unlike most of the other products we tried, the LM-Correct software plug-in not only measures the loudness, but it actually corrects the audio level as required. That means the editor can measure and correct loudness within the editing suite almost in one step, and then push the job out to play.
The audio-mixing process in the editing suite can be quite detailed. Without LM-Correct, editors or producers would have to package the audio and send it away for processing, but now they can mix their own audio and process it themselves with the touch of a button.
The LM-Correct plug-in is a simple addition to our workflow. The editors import material into Avid Media Composer and edit as they normally would, and then run LM-Correct after the mix is complete. Because of this software package, editors have more creative freedom to mix the way they want because they know that LM-Correct will normalize the audio later to ensure compliance. For example, without LM-Correct, editors must base loudness on volume units, so they have to ride their peak levels very hard, but because of the way the NUGEN Audio product processes the audio, they don’t have to worry about doing that anymore. In fact, the quality of the audio has actually improved.
One-touch auto correction is perhaps LM-Correct’s most valuable feature because it consolidates several manual processes into a single, push-button, automated function. Editors used to have to analyze and correct, analyze and correct, until they got the mix the way they wanted it, but now they simply push a button and it’s finished. This feature cuts down on the time it takes an editor to produce the audio portion of a project, and time is money.
Another thing that’s especially valuable is the editor-friendly interface. Other software we’ve tested provides a lot of granular detail, which is great for engineers, but not necessary for editors, who are the primary users at Southern Cross Austereo. LM-Correct’s display is well-organized and provides the appropriate amount of detail without overwhelming the editors.
Since we’ve been using LM-Correct, we’ve seen a significant increase in our ability to meet OP-59 targets. With other products we’ve tested, we hit the mark only about 80 percent of the time. But with LM-Correct, our mixes hold up to scrutiny every time.
Beyond that, the support from NUGEN Audio has been excellent. The few times we’ve submitted a support ticket, the response has been fast, efficient, effective, and professional, especially considering the difference in our time zones.
The LM-Correct software plug-in was the right solution for Southern Cross Austereo because it gives us an affordable, simple, effective tool for ensuring we comply with OP-59 without fail.
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