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Re: Adding noise.

Postby ef37a » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:13 pm

Hugh, when I said "whizz kids" I meant the managerial decision makers not the technical staff. Sorry.

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Re: Adding noise.

Postby James Perrett » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:40 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Although it seems contradictory, I think there is something in the idea that a little noise can be helpful, and not just in audio terms.

Before I got into the restoration business I remember reading about some trials that Cedar did where they found that people preferred the samples where they had left a little noise rather than removing it completely. Apparently the samples with no noise sounded too dull (although the actual balance of the wanted audio was the same).

I'm not sure where I read this but it was possibly an old internet post by Gordon Reid.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Folderol » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:01 pm

Fun fact.
There is a brain disorder where people can't filter out noise from 'useful' information. I knew someone who suffered from it. If you were talking to him and there was even a quite low level of background sound, he had great difficulty understanding you. You won't be surprised to know he never went into pubs or busy markets etc.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby RichardT » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:58 pm

Folderol wrote:Fun fact.
There is a brain disorder where people can't filter out noise from 'useful' information. I knew someone who suffered from it. If you were talking to him and there was even a quite low level of background sound, he had great difficulty understanding you. You won't be surprised to know he never went into pubs or busy markets etc.

I suffer from this. I find it really hard to hear what people are saying if there are other conversations going on. I never knew it was a thing! I hate pubs too...

I also suffer from mild face blindness which can make watching TV dramas a little confusing.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:08 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Although it seems contradictory, I think there is something in the idea that a little noise can be helpful, and not just in audio terms.

Compare material shot on video and film. The grain 'noise' of film lends a quality which is absent on video, and which most people seem to find preferable. Dither for the eyes? :lol:

I dont think most people do like film grain per se. These days some people so used to modern HD video complain when older films are presented with the film grain intact. So "degrain" software has been developed. It may have some benefit but as so often it tends to be used to excess, basically defocussing the picture...Master film restorationist Robert A. Harris has some choice words about "degraining" film remasterings...

Then audio tape noise. Some of us recently listened to a Dire Straits track from "Love over Gold". In the quiet intro and ending there is audible hiss. Does it add to the experience? For me it adds nothing but only detracts. It's an intruder. But if I'm transferring an analog audio tape I aim to capture every bit of the programme, including the tape hiss, because that is the information on the tape. If I've captured that I have likely also captured all of the HF information in the programme. I also check that the hiss that I am hearing really is tape hiss and not repro preamp hiss, which is so often assumed to be the same thing. But that's another issue.

The problem is that both in film and audio, there is no clear demarcation line between the background "noise" and the quiet programme. They are mixed together like scrambled eggs and cant be easily unmixed. I know I can bang on about it but so much of "Degraining" and Denoising" involves removing noise AND low level wanted information - and not even noticing we have done it. Part of this seems from a failure to listen critically and look critically, comparing the original with our "restoration" effort.

I will tolerate the grain and the hiss not because they are good in themselves but because so often mixed in with them is the finer picture and sound detail. The best sound and picture transfers give us everything that is on the film or tape that is wanted programme and if they do that they will often unavoidably include some noise.

I've just been loaned from the owner a small 8mm film I shot for him back in 1976 (I hadnt made or kept a copy) plus the digitised transfer he later had made of it by a transfer house. The complaint from the owner is that on the transfer he cant make out some people's faces because "it's too dark" which it is. A lot of the shadow detail is missing on the transfer. I know that because I have just projected the original film then the digitised copy and compared. Face detail in dark sections of the film is intact but in the digitised copy it's just gray nothingness.

There is also loss of picture detail (even though it is only 8mm film and so not much detail to begin with) and no surprise, the film grain is largely absent. But we cant have one without the other. I'm planning to have the film retransferred paying attention to shadow detail and resolution of fine detail. Inevitably there will be visible grain that is not visible in the poor transfer. But that's not the point. Now we will see all of the picture!

If we can retain all of the sound and picture detail while removing extraneous noise, so much the better. If we cant, I for one prefer to see and hear all of the wanted detail and put up with some noise.

I dont think most people do enjoy film grain or tape noise and audio and video production seems to reflect that. The exception seems to be special/artistic effects.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:55 am

Maybe we like this noise because it’s like being in the womb? It makes us feel cozy, and secure.
We have the luxury now of using noise as a creative tool, and, as time goes on, certain types of noise help us reference certain times in the past when some decades had a different flavour of noise, the sound of static on the radio, the sound of 78 rpm shellac records, the sound of vinyl, and of tape, the texture of 8 mm film, the look of VHS video, Technicolour, Delux, etc.
What were problems at the time because we had no choice, have become sounds in their own right.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby ef37a » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:11 am

James Perrett wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:Although it seems contradictory, I think there is something in the idea that a little noise can be helpful, and not just in audio terms.

Before I got into the restoration business I remember reading about some trials that Cedar did where they found that people preferred the samples where they had left a little noise rather than removing it completely. Apparently the samples with no noise sounded too dull (although the actual balance of the wanted audio was the same).

I'm not sure where I read this but it was possibly an old internet post by Gordon Reid.

This may have been in the midst of the Dolby arguments? Dolby tests found people preferred un-decoded, i.e. noisy samples to processed ones even though the Dolbyed version had a flat response. However, if they added a little noise back into the Dolbyed track folks could not tell it from the original.

The tests were not about 'noise' but to prove that Dolby processing did not add artifacts as many were claiming at the time. The effect is similar I supposed to the fact that given a choice, people like the louder version of a clip most of the time.

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Re: Adding noise.

Postby ef37a » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:29 am

Folderol wrote:Fun fact.
There is a brain disorder where people can't filter out noise from 'useful' information. I knew someone who suffered from it. If you were talking to him and there was even a quite low level of background sound, he had great difficulty understanding you. You won't be surprised to know he never went into pubs or busy markets etc.

That is how my deafness affects me. I am 20dB down at 2kHz and then go down at 6dB/oct.
Most of the top string of violin is absent for me as is the last octave of a grand Joe. But understanding people goes further than that. One on one without noise competition (TVs should be banned in chippies!) I am very good but any kind of background noise and I am buggered. Especially 'voices off'. Whoever thought up the Open Office wants shooting!

Any kind of strong accent, be it Indian sub C or Glaswegian and I am stuffed. There are many doctors and nurses at our GH that I simply don't 'get'. People also speak to quickly. I ask them to slow down and they do, for a bit but I have to constantly get them to back up.

Phones are nightmare. ANY company you call has a robotic menu system. That is fine and generally I can understand it but, once through to a person the level invariably drops by 10dB! I then have to switch to speaker phone to boost them. Put on hold and the music is always very loud compared to speech.

Fewer and fewer companies have email contact. I am seriously considering moving my bank from Nat West!

Again, judging by the letters in RT I am not that rare? A lot of complaints are about loud music masking dialogue.

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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:25 am

ef37a wrote:Again, judging by the letters in RT I am not that rare? A lot of complaints are about loud music masking dialogue.

No, you're not rare at all, and there are very active lobbies -- both on the consumer and professional technical side -- campaigning constantly to try and find ways of addressing the problem.... Some progress has been made but it's very much an uphill struggle, with the trend being towards finding technologies that provide special options for the HoH , rather than encouraging a more universally-compatible mix balance.

In days of old, when the broadcasting companies trained their own staff, made their own programmes entirely in house, and had engineering directorates that set and maintained standards, there were policies and practices in place to avoid these kinds of problems as much as possible.

Today, none of those things exist... and programmes are made, in general, by relatively young people who don't have hearing issues (yet), who don't appreciate the problem, and who wouldn't follow any guidance even if some were offered.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby ef37a » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:37 am

Thanks Hugh. The American documentaries are the worst offenders. Why we need crashing music while the camera flies through some glorious autumn forest I cannot understand!

Even home grown stuff offends. I recall a sequence showing the silent(!) flight of an owl to its handler, with of course the obligatory underlying music!

I doubt they can even claim they are giving work to musicians? Probably just a kid with a box of samples doing it for naff all!

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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:33 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Compare material shot on video and film. The grain 'noise' of film lends a quality which is absent on video, and which most people seem to find preferable. Dither for the eyes? :lol:

I love that analogy Hugh! :clap:


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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:37 pm

ef37a wrote:Why we need crashing music while the camera flies through some glorious autumn forest I cannot understand!

Because the production people hope it will add some excitement or stimulation that's otherwise lacking in their content! :silent:

Even home grown stuff offends. I recall a sequence showing the silent(!) flight of an owl to its handler, with of course the obligatory underlying music!

To be fair, good music, in the right place and at the right level can make a very positive contribution to the way the audience becomes involved and immersed in the programme. As always, we tend not to notice when it's done well, but it sticks out like the sore whatsit when it's done badly...

Regarding your comments on dark pictures earlier, I just came across an investigation the BBC are doing to try and better comprehend how people view TV at home, and in particular the effect of their ambient lighting arrangements. There's a survey public here (which requires some measurement of local light conditions):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2020-07-home-lighting-television-picture-quality

... so they are trying...

The other common problem, of course, is poorly set up TVs, and/or TVs set to inappropriate 'viewing modes', many of which impose alternative gamma curves and thus render perfectly acceptable source images as indistinct murkiness! ... and then 'they' blame the broadcaster.... grrr
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:43 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:I dont think most people do like film grain per se. These days some people so used to modern HD video complain when older films are presented with the film grain intact.

Perhaps it's different for people hanging on to the other side of the planet... :D But we'll have to agree to differ... Over the years I've been involved in many pro and public comparison sessions on all manner of programming aspects, and as I said, they demonstrated a clear preference for grain (or a Gaussian noise 'equivalent'). Obviously, it needs to be subtle and not overwhelming...
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:53 pm

ef37a wrote:Thanks Hugh. The American documentaries are the worst offenders. Why we need crashing music while the camera flies through some glorious autumn forest I cannot understand!

Even home grown stuff offends. I recall a sequence showing the silent(!) flight of an owl to its handler, with of course the obligatory underlying music!

I doubt they can even claim they are giving work to musicians? Probably just a kid with a box of samples doing it for naff all!

Dave.

I often think how brave it would be if a producer just said no, to music.
It would be very refreshing to not have any gratuitous sound effects, music, flashing photos, or irrelevant "suggestive" scenery shots, if you added up the actual screen time for all this sh*t it would probably take up a high percentage of the entire program, it just seems like it’s people creating "padding" and jobs for themselves.
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Re: Adding noise.

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:59 pm

Given that 25% of the screen time is adverts (less for the BBC TBF but far from zero) and the ridiculous amount of repetition in many shows (implying that the average viewer can't remember what happened before the 3 minute ad break) most 30 min TV programs have about 12 mins of actual content.....
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