Author Topic: Volume levels for movies?  (Read 5359 times)


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Volume levels for movies?
« on: April 08, 2014, 03:33:39 PM »
Hello I wish to set the right volumes for a short movie in audio post production. Which decibel would you set for separate music, voices, and sound fx?
When in the movie people talk the volume of the music must be less then before. And there are some sound effects which are louder than others, but in the most cases, when the music is alone, the voice also is alone, and the sound effects are "basic", which volumes do you set for cinema? thx 

p.s. if you can link to me some article, forum discussion, anything reguarding this I would really grateful. thanks again! :)


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Re: Volume levels for movies?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 10:56:06 PM »
Adjusting relative volume levels of sounds sources is a completely subjective and artistic choice. No on can tell you how to do it, there is no prescribed formula.

Basically just adjust the levels until you are pleased with the result.


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Re: Volume levels for movies?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2014, 02:00:43 AM »
Basically just adjust the levels until you are pleased with the result....
That's right.
The trailer most often loud and lots of dynamic. ... etc.

Just for share idea, not the best but it's good for me for the documentary in our production, with some thought that the video will be shown in normal room not in cinema or well auditorium :

- The maximum level -2dB or -3dB from VU level, not the signal in Volt or mV. I try not 0dB in case the player of the audience/user have a defect function there is still little space before distortion.
- The speech between -8dB to -3dB.
- The ambiance around -18dB for continue. The unpleasant ambiance : door bang, move the table, etc can be louder to support the story but short.
- Music around -6dB for alone/music only and -18dB for background. Again this is very subjective, the jazz music will be different with rock

That's for beginning.  There are no ideal setting if you didn't know exactly for where you will use.
For example :
- With the drama film, the dynamic is more important : should be very different between scream and speak softly.
- If you know that the clip will be shown in cinema or auditorium well under 50dB noise level, than you can make much more dynamic again.
- If you will use for educational training, in class room, then the minimum level must be louder the the noise around.
- The headphone user have more dynamic than the loudspeaker system for the house.

Try make one first, and show that one (maquette) to many others so the subjective factor will be less and then readjust.

Find with google many article about that, I am shure there are plenty...


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Re: Volume levels for movies?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2014, 04:17:43 AM »
Each speaker in a theatre should produce 105dB @ -0dB input, with the subwoofer producing 115dB.
THX uses a -20dB reference signal (85dB output) to level match speakers.  Most other sources use a -30dB signal, since this produces a 75dB output at the speakers, and is more comfortable for the user.

There are various DVD/Blu-ray discs available, which contain the necessary source signals to calibrate a sound system.  Such as this.  You will also need an SPL meter.

If your post production environment does not have good room acoustics, you should also consider listening to your soundtrack in a different venue also.  Bass response of a system is heavily influenced by the room.

This may sound like overkill, but it is important to ensure that you are producing content in an environment that follows some reference.  Otherwise, what sounds great in your post production room, can very easily sound like crap in a reference system.

Note:  Reference level is loud!  Most people in a home theatre environment will typically listen at -15dB from reference.


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Re: Volume levels for movies?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2014, 08:46:20 AM »
DVD also has an audio standard for both video and audio DVDs.
CD's never had such a standard (neither did cassette tapes) but this is what led to clipping in all of todays music,
the loudness war starting in the mid 90s
Vinyl has a standard but it is trumped by everything being heavily compressed.