Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mixing for the Web

More and more projects I work on appear online, either as a primary destination or as an afterthought of some sort. And as time's gone by it's become apparent that the Internet/ mobile space/ etc is kind of a Wild West situation in terms of audio consistency; there isn't really much info out there in terms of standardization. How loud should a mix be? How does EQ come into play? How to frontload against loss in resolution? One is left to test a mix on available devices and hope it tracks across platforms.

So I was happy to see this article in Post Magazine, which deals with the pleasures and terrors of mixing for the web. The audio team behind the online reboot of "Arrested Development", for instance, reveled in the opportunity to apply its own standards and ensure consistency across the entire show.

On the other end of the spectrum, a mix is often at the mercy of whatever process crunches the final piece into an online-digestible morsel. From the article: "After seeing the full HD version of Burning Love: Burning Down the House during playback at Paramount, [re-recording mixer David Miraglia] was surprised by how it looked online. 'When they have it on the site in that small window, you can see compression artifacts. The picture wasn’t as bad as the sound I thought, but, really, who is at the wheel? Who is doing the encoding? I really want to talk to them and say, ‘Why are you doing it like this?’

“There are no standards," Miraglia continues. "You never know if the ads that get played before and after your show will be louder or softer than the program. We did a lot of research on the levels of the videos out there, and what the ads were being mixed at. Everybody is all over the map... The Web is the wild, wild west, across the board, and you never know what you’re going to get until it airs. Then it’s like, ok, well, that’s how it turned out.”

Indeed, I'd appreciate the opportunity to see what's going on behind the curtain, even at Vimeo or YouTube, and to back-engineer my work accordingly. Given recent developments in broadcast, maybe Internet audio standards aren't far off.

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