Unsung Audio Gearhead

Posted on Apr 22, 2014
Unsung Audio Gearhead

Although this happened way back in February [a mere two months ago, but somehow this feels like a lifetime], we are now very proud to announce that Dig1’s very own Chip Sloan was featured in POST Magazine, the monthly publication dedicated to covering, documenting, and contributing to “the most intensely dynamic segment of the entertainment industry”, the industry that we live and breathe daily: Post Production.
 
Since you have to be subscribed to POST to partake in the spoils, here’s the excerpt from the article for your reading pleasure…
 
Post Magazine - Digital One - Portland, OR
 
“Unsung Audio Gear” by Jennifer Walden, POST Magazine, February 2014
 
Chip Sloan has been a sound designer at Digital One in Portland, OR, for the past 10 years. Before moving to Portland, he worked in Detroit, doing audio post for five years, with two years in music production before that. Digital One is an audio post facility and recording studio that caters to the advertising community. Sloan has won several awards for his sound design work, including a Gold Clio for Best Sound Design, and two Cannes Lions.
 
Digital One has three main audio suites, two of which are set up for 5.1 mixing. Sloan notes, “The rooms are matched in every way, with the exception of the surround speakers in the third room.”
 
Since the three rooms are outfitted with the same gear, Digital One doesn’t make hasty decisions when choosing audio tools. “When we pick something we like, we tend to stay with it as long as it’s still working for us,” Sloan says. That’s been the case for his current go-to audio tool, the LM6 Loudness Meter by TC Electronic. With all the broadcast work they do, a loudness meter is now an essential part of their workflow. Sloan even mixes non-broadcast projects using the LM6.
 
“Even things that aren’t planned to go to broadcast may end up going there later,” says Sloan. “You have to be ready for that. I mix everything with the new loudness spec in mind. The LM6 helps us keep track of how loud everything is. It’s a fundamental tool that we use all the time.”
 
Since all loudness meters come up with the same numbers, Sloan feels the interface on the LM5 is what originally sold them on the plug-in. “It’s easy to look at,” he says. “The radar looks really cool. Sometimes it’s just about flashy lights, because the numbers are all the same.”
 
Since the LM5 was working out so well, Digital One upgraded to the LM6 when it became available, as opposed to choosing a new loudness meter from a different company. “I saw Waves just came out with a really good loudness meter,” he notes. “I’m sure it’s pretty nice, but we like this one.”
 
The TC Electronic LM6 Loudness Meter plug-in helps users comply with broadcast standards for loudness, whether it’s the ATSC A/85 standard in the US, the EBU R128 for European broadcasts, or any other international broadcast standard. There are several options to choose from. The LM6 features a Loudness Radar Meter that instantly communicates a projects Loudness History, Momentary Loudness, True-Peak Level, Program Loudness, and Loudness Range (LRA). Looking at the radar, you’ll see program loudness displayed within five concentric circles. The boldest circle is the ideal target for program loudness, which is -24 LKFS for US broadcasts. Audio that peaks above that line is colored orange, and everything below that line turns from green at the ideal loudness, to more bluish as the levels get ‘colder.’
 
You can set the display to your program length, from one minute, up to 24 hours, so that the loudness history, or loudness over the entire project, is easily perceived. There is also an outer ring that displays Momentary Loudness. That’s the loudness of the program as it’s happening in realtime. When set for ATSC A/85, -24 LKFS is located at the 12 o’clock position, so it’s easy to see when program levels peak above that. Another thing to notice on the interface is the allimportant Program Loudness. This is clearly displayed in the bottom left corner of the plug-in window.
 
TC Electronic designed the LM6 to run all the time without eating up precious CPU. It’s available in Audio Units, VST, AAX, AudioSuite, and RTAS plug-in formats. According to the TC Electronic Website, you can use the LM6 with Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X, Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Nuendo, and other programs, both on a Mac or PC. It works for projects that are in mono, stereo, or 5.1. The Native plug-in is available through TC Electronic’s Web store for $450. To find out more, check out the TC Electronic site.
 
Sloan recently used the LM6 on a short film he mixed for Kamp Grizzly, a production company in Portland, OR. The three-minute film, titled Massan Barrage Cargo, is for Chrome Industries, makers of “useful and durable gear for professional messengers, fixed freestyle riders, and urban commuters,” according to Chrome. The film is currently on Vimeo.
 
“It’s an interesting documentary-like piece and I have a feeling it’s going to end up somewhere else, possibly in a theater,” says Sloan. “Using the LM6 meter on that project allows me to know that the mix I did could easily be made to fit broadcast spec.”
 
Since Sloan mixed the film for the Web, he made a final gain adjustment to raise the level overall before outputting the file. This way, if the film does go to broadcast, or theaters, he can simply go back to the original mix and set the output gain at an appropriate level for those deliveries. He says, “It tends to save work down the line when the client needs a new version to go to a new place. It helps you be prepared for that. It’s a necessity to be able to do things quickly. Anything we can do to help the world move as fast as it needs to, and help people meet those quick deadlines, the better we are. That’s kind of our mission, to set everything up to be as flexible as we can, as long as we can, before we’re locked into a mix.”
 
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The full POST Magazine article by Jennifer Walden can be read in it’s original form here, beginning on page 32, or you can download the PDF here. Atta boy Chipper!