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Heindrik Simoens | VRT
Loudness solutions with the Belgian broadcaster
VRT Reporters Use VisLM-H for Simple, Accurate Loudness Measurement in the Field
by Hendrik Simoens, Project Engineer, VRT
Flemish Radio and Television Network Organization, or VRT, is the Flemish public broadcaster for the Dutch-speaking portion of Belgium. We aim to reach the maximum number of media users with a wide range of quality programs that excite and satisfy them, so we provide programs and services on all platforms in an array of genres, from information and culture to education and entertainment.
Because we have such a wide range of programming, VRT program engineers work on all sorts of projects with varying amounts of audio content, all of which must follow the EBU R128 standard for broadcast loudness. In order to comply with the standard, which went into effect on Jan. 1, we needed tools that would help us monitor loudness. One of those tools is VisLM-H, NUGEN Audio’s visual loudness monitoring tool with history view (H) and a data-logging option. We use VisLM-H mostly for on-location news stories and high-level audio post-production.
VisLM-H is a software plug-in that we can insert into our workflow whenever and wherever we need it. Our editing suites are equipped with physical loudness meters, but for our news department, where space is limited and most people work on their laptops, it’s not possible to install a physical meter. For example, foreign correspondents working in other countries or other reporters working in remote locations might do some of their own editing on their laptops before submitting their reports. Often they’re using a Panasonic P2 camera to capture video and audio and ingest it into the PC, where they use Avid® Media Cutter to prepare the package. In situations like those, VisLM-H easily displaces a physical meter at a lower cost.
Audio level on locations has always been a problem, and the nature of a location shoot means audio is tricky to begin with, so it is helpful to have something that allows remote reporters to watch the levels in the field before sending the piece back to the station. Because it’s a plug-in, VisLM-H represents the ultimate in portability. The visual meter simply appears on the screen alongside other editing tools without the inconvenience of a physical box. .
The meter’s history feature is helpful because when we create or edit a piece, it’s important to see if there are loudness jumps or drops in any part of the edit to ensure loudness for the entire program is at a reasonable and consistent level — especially if we’re combining archive material with new material.
VisLM-H gives us an easy-to-use, EBU-compliant way to measure, compare, and contrast loudness for entire sections of audio. With the VisLM-H plug-in, our remote reporters have a unique tool for accurately measuring the loudness of a piece right there in the field, which ultimately helps VRT comply with the rules, avoid fines, and deliver better-sounding programming to viewers.
VisLM-H is just one piece of NUGEN Audio’s product line, which offers a number of tools for audio analysis, loudness metering, mixing/mastering, and tracking. Besides VisLM-H, to some extent we also use NUGEN Audio’s LM-Correct automatic loudness analysis and correction tool, and the Visualizer audio analysis suite.
Mix & Mastering