From left, Tomlinson Holman, Apple; Jim Pace, plus24; and Jim Starzynski, NBC Universal were among the attendees at Friday’s DTV Audio Group meeting.
By Steve Harvey.
Issues associated with television broadcast audio featured prominently at this year’s show, from workshops, tutorials and sessions to products on the show floor.
With the CALM Act due to come into effect before the end of the year, 12 months after it was passed, the vast majority of TV broadcasters have already initiated loudness control solutions. “The templates are in place,” stated Roger Charlesworth, executive director of the DTV Audio Group, which met on Friday at the convention.
Dave Higgins, VP quality assurance, Comcast Media Center, reported that of the 479 services distributed from the company’s Colorado facility, only four do not yet comply with loudness control requirements. “Very infrequently, we’re picking the phone up” to alert content providers that audio levels need adjusting, he reported.
One focus of the meeting was the implementation of audio quality measures on the growing number of mobile devices, ensuring a uniform user experience from TV to tablet to handheld. “It’s all television,” observed Charlesworth, as the group discussed the docking and streaming abilities of mobile devices through the home screen.
HTML5, currently under development, promises to bring a transparent, device-appropriate user experience to the browser. Whether it is possible to bring uniformity to the various embedded players remains to be seen, according to a Broadcast/Media Streaming session on Thursday, “Streaming with HTML5.” “Some of the worst offenders are broadcasters,” said Orban’s Greg Ogonowski during a discussion of the application, and potential standardization across formats, of metadata in streaming players.
As was also discussed in the DTV Audio Group meeting, there should ideally be one copy of any piece of content with the user experience driven by the device and the way it is used. In other words, program audio should be optimized one way for handheld consumption and another way when plugged into a large-screen system.
Of course, broadcasters already have their plates full working out how to comply with the CALM Act, and now the 20th Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act’s mandated video description service metadata. As Turner’s Tom Sahara pointed out, “Here’s more metadata we have to start paying attention to.”