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Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

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Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:39 pm

I thought some of you might find this interesting.

The picture below shows a short excerpt from the Jamie Cullum concert on thursday night (26th August) from the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Proms season.

The window is a screen grab from a SADiE session showing about ten seconds of audio. The top pair of tracks (pink background) are of the Radio 3 broadcast that went out live on Thursday evening.

The bottom two tracks (blue background) are of the BBC 4 TV show that was recorded live but broadcast the following night. Both recordings are direct extracts from the broadcast MPEG2 source files.

Image

The interesting thing, as you can see, is the very different use of dynamics in the two broadcasts -- although the peak levels are virtually identical (as you would expect for BBC programmes conforming to the 'never peak over PPM6' rule! ;) ).

The Radio 3 version (top) quite clearly uses a significantly wider dynanmic range throughout -- and is probably more faithful to the sound in the hall on the night. There is little visual evidence of limiting or compression, and sections that build progressively (like that just right of centre), clearly do build progressively in amplitude. Quiet tinkly bits on the piano (like that section about a quarter way in from the left) are quiet and tinkly.

In comparison, the TV mix is substantially louder throughout and is clearly being held by compression and/or limiting for extended periods of time, as the flat-topped waveforms reveal. In fact large sections have a virtually flat top, whereas the Radio 3 version still shows dynamic variations.

It's almost like you're looking at source and mastered versions of the same thing! You're not though -- as it happens, I know both balancers (Rupert on the radio mix and Andy on the TV mix) and I have the utmost respect for their work. Both did a superb job, mixing an expansive source list, and a very complex (and unpredictable) stage act, live and straight to stereo.

Despite the obvious dynamnic control in the TV mix, it still sounds superb -- in fact both mixes are excellent, although they are also quite different. The TV mix has a slightly more prominent bass line throughout and is much denser -- as you'd expect, a sound balance which matches the close perspective TV pictures. The Radio mix is more open, dynamic, natural and -- for me -- more involving.

I should make clear that this post is not intended in any way to criticise either balance or suggest one approach is better than the other. Rather, it is to highlight two very different approaches which reflect the very different expectations of the audiences for those two media outlets.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:18 pm

interesting... i'd be interested in hearing the two mixes... would it be against copyright for you to post links to the files? or can I re-listen on the bbc site?
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:25 pm

Yes, the comparison is obviously very intersting to hear.... but I fear it would be against copyright for me to post clips here.

However, anyone in the UK can access the BBC4 programme here for the next 6 days:
Jamie Cullum BBC4 TV

And the Radio 3 programme here:

Jamie Cullum Radio 3

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby desmond » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:28 pm

A few seconds surely comes under Fair Use, would it not?

In any case, the examples are what I would expect - the BBC has been packaging it's various content for the intended audience. The Radio 4 *sound* is very different to the Radio 1 *sound*, and TV again has different characteristics.

Might be the basis for a nice SOS article though, in general, comparing the different media output and how it's matched to their demographic, and what that means for people producing content for multiple distribution mediums...
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:10 pm

desmond wrote:A few seconds surely comes under Fair Use, would it not?


There is no need to get embroiled with the complications of 'fair use' when the two programmes are available from the copyright holder anyway.

In any case, the examples are what I would expect - the BBC has been packaging it's various content for the intended audience.


Indeed so -- and that's precisely my point. It's just that directly comparable examples are extremely rare.

Might be the basis for a nice SOS article though, in general, comparing the different media output and how it's matched to their demographic, and what that means for people producing content for multiple distribution mediums...


It might... ;)

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:50 pm

I made a few notes while I was comparing the two mixes.

Volume:

I compared the two mixes with the volume adjusted so that the lead vocal was at the same level in each mix.

In the tv mix the lead vocal, or whatever instrument is taking the lead at the time, is a lot louder than everything else, as you would expect. When the trumpet solo comes in it is way louder than the keys, for example.

In the radio mix everything is more evenly balanced and the music seems a lot louder (when compared to the tv mix). The Orchestra especially seems to be louder. In the trumpet solo, the keys were equal volume with the trumpet and panning was used to separate them.


Panning:

in the tv mix everything seems to be wider. The piano is panned in stereo across the stage, with the bass keys on the left and the high keys on the right. The panning is more exciting, with keys running across the stage when he does a roll down the keyboard. The BVs are spread right to the edges of the stage and across the stage. The panning appears to be more blurred and spread. In the trumpet solo, the trumpet is panned centre.

In the radio mix, when the trumpet takes the solo, the trumpet is panned to the right, with the keys at equal volume on the left. The piano is panned just left of centre, with not much spread or movement. The BVs are not as wide either. The panning seems to be more defined, like you can pinpoint positions of musicians. It is also more static, it doesn't seem to move as much. The panning in this mix is more realistic from an audience perspective. following rules etc.

Effects:

The tv mix appears to have more effects. more synthetic sounding reverb. You can hear it on the drums especially.

The Radio mix has more natural reverb treatment. The drums are drier and more natural sounding.

EQ:

The tv mix has more radical EQ, more like a 'pop record'.

The radio mix has a more natural EQ, like a classical recording perhaps.

Audience:

The audience in the tv mix sounds like mush.

The audience in the radio mix sound a lot better and more realistic, you can actually hear defined claps and cheers.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:21 am

Good observations -- I'd agree with all of that.

The TV mix is noticeably more spacious, partly because of the wider panning and partly the reverb they have added (I suspect it's artificical but it maybe the hall's 'space' mics), and that's probably because most people listen on narrowly spaced TV speakers rather than properly set out stereo monitoring. So this approach gives more of an impression of width in that circumstance.

The R3 mix is definitely more 'accurate' from a stereo point of view and follows the normal R3 policy in that respect.

Interesting, isn't it.

I'm told the crews had only 45 minutes to rig following the previous early-evening concert in the hall, and that there were over 100 lines coming off the stage.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:31 am

you mentioned that the radio mix was mixed and broadcast live on the night.. whereas the tv mix was broadcast the following evening.

Do you think the tv mix would have been mixed live on the night too, or mixed the following day (from a multitrack recording)? And do you think it would have been mixed in one pass, like a live mix?
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:38 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The TV mix is noticeably more spacious, partly because of the wider panning and partly the reverb they have added

to me, the tv mix sounds more like the way a pop record would be mixed. and the radio mix like a traditional live recording of a classical concert.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:06 pm

Bossman wrote:Do you think the tv mix would have been mixed live on the night too, or mixed the following day (from a multitrack recording)? And do you think it would have been mixed in one pass, like a live mix?

As far as I know they were both mixed live to stereo on the night. The TV programme was edited slightly for length and broadcast the following day, but there was no further audio post production as far as I know.

It is quite normal practice to do this kind of thing as a live mix... scary isn't it? ;)

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:12 pm

Bossman wrote:to me, the tv mix sounds more like the way a pop record would be mixed.

Yes, I agree. Much more compressed, more upfront and in-your-face, and with a generally bigger sound.

and the radio mix like a traditional live recording of a classical concert.

Not surprising given the Radio 3 Proms Context. I know that Rupert is quite capable of creating the pop mix sound too -- he does it all the time for Radio 2 and Radio 1 (you can read about such exploits here)

Equally, Andy is very capable of creating more classical balances -- and has engineered the balances on numerous opera and ballet DVD's etc -- although mixing to picture always imposes different contraints to mixing for pure audio.

Personally, I prefer the R3 balance for all the reasons you described earlier, but it is a personal preference and they are both good mixes.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:36 pm

Personally, I can't really decide which one I like better.. as you say, they are both good mixes. There are things that I prefer in each mix. You couldn't really say that one is right and the other is wrong.

Radio mix:
I prefer the level balance of the radio mix. I prefer the sound of the orchestra. The mid range is a lot fuller and more natural... The Audience is much more believable, It sounds like you are in the hall.

TV Mix:
I prefer the panning on the tv mix. I like the piano stretching across the stage - it feels more adventurous and more exciting, more movement. I like the way the BVs are spread. I don't like the way the mid range is a bit more scooped to make way for the vocal.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:01 pm

Great post.

Radio version (listening from laptop) immediately has more clarity.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:08 pm

Bossman wrote:I made a few notes while I was comparing the two mixes.

Audience:

The audience in the tv mix sounds like mush.

The audience in the radio mix sound a lot better and more realistic, you can actually hear defined claps and cheers.

Wow! yes.
Things sound muffled in general, and there seems to be a concentration on the vocals. Even the reverb has added a filtered sound.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby mjfe2 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:39 pm

Really interesting post, thanks Hugh! And to think I missed the Prom.... (I was at the earlier one that night)
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:...and that there were over 100 lines coming off the stage.


Hugh Robjohns wrote:It is quite normal practice to do this kind of thing as a live mix... scary isn't it? ;)


woah, 100 lines, straight to stereo... that would be fun. :bouncy:

Do these guys have assistant mix engineers that would take care of groups of instruments, or is it just the one guy that takes care of the whole mix?

would they have done a big soundcheck/rehearsal and saved scenes for different sections?

do you know what sort of desk they used?
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:01 pm

Bossman wrote:Do these guys have assistant mix engineers that would take care of groups of instruments, or is it just the one guy that takes care of the whole mix?

Could be either. There is usually an assistant, but whether they get involved hands-on with the mix varies. They would almost certainly be reading back notes or following scores, though. I'll ask the questions for you and report back.

would they have done a big soundcheck/rehearsal and saved scenes for different sections?

Certainly a soundcheck and rehearsal, and I'm sure copious notes were taken and scores probably marked up. I suspect both mixes were done with digital desks (I think both Stagetecs, but again, I'll checka nd report back), but whether they used snapshots or not I don't know. They might have done for the New Orlean band section which involved some extra spot mics being carried in, but probably not as the whole concert involved more or less the same sources throughout.

do you know what sort of desk they used?

I think both trucks have Stagetecs, but as I said, I'll check.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby El Sid » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:09 pm

great post Hugh!

shame i cant access those links though... :frown:
they seem to be broken! or is it because i am in germany??

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:49 pm

It's because you're in Germany and the Beeb only hold rights for UK access on its iPlayer services.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby turtles » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:42 pm

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for taking the time!
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:47 pm

El Sid wrote:..those links... they seem to be broken!


Hugh your links are broken :headbang:

they point to

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/www.b ... lum_Night/

with www.soundonsound.com/forum/ at the start. I just deleted that part from the start of the address and all is ok.



The correct links are:
BBC4:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tjs92/BBC_Proms_2010_Jamie_Cullum_Night/

and Radio 3:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00tgzny
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:33 pm

Sorry about that. It appears that the forum software did something very odd because the URLs I pasted didn't have the http bit at the front.

I've fixed the original links now too.

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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby turbodave » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:58 pm

I preferred the original links...they were less compressed and somehow had a more realistic tag feel.
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Bossman » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:26 am

turbodave wrote:I preferred the original links...they were less compressed and somehow had a more realistic tag feel.

yeah, but they didn't have as much dynamic range ;)
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Re: Jamie Cullum on Radio & TV

Postby Zukan » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:58 am

Hugh baby, not sure what the legal implications are here but this would make for a good article in Sos.

The reader would gain some real insight into how different mixes translate across for different mediums and criteria.

It would also show them you don't need to squeeze the gnads out of a mix to make it 'acceptable'.
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