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So I work mainly in games but also at times broadcast. I've been considering my options when it comes to creating a demo that will play back in 5.1. My biggest problem is figuring out what the most common playback system is and what media to create for that system.

Video for Windows OS and Windows media player, Audio compressed as AC3

Video for PS3 / X360 , Audio compressed as AAC

Video for DAW, Audio discrete PCM.

Help !

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hey everyone thanks for the info so far ... –  studio13 Sep 28 '11 at 18:47
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4 Answers

I Second what @Dave Matney has said - I get quite a few showreels sent to me and I can tell you now that and the ones that get the most attention are those that are easily accessible i.e. streaming via the net. DVD's or CD's of music through the post are a pain because our whole recruitment system is online so you can't add links to their work, bookmark things I like for future reference or send the examples off to other team members to evaluate without added complication. As for the playback format - here is an example from where I work - a potential employee's/freelancers showreel would start off with me who can play back 5.1, but then go to our Art Director and Creative Director who both have 2.1 systems with far too much bass, but they may well listen back through headphones anyway (and one has a PC and the other a mac so WMV isn't the best choice). Then go the the Art Manager who will be listening on headphones and can't play back 24 bit files, and won't have any codecs installed. I'd guess this would be similar in most games companies. So basically my advice is 5.1 is great! but make sure it translates well into stereo and more importantly than anything is a well balanced mix. If Vimeo does 5.1 :) that sounds like a winner.

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I'll look into vimeo more .. thanks ! –  studio13 Sep 28 '11 at 18:48
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Assume that your demo will be viewed / listened to on a stereo device, unless they've actually ASKED for your demo. Vimeo does not support 5.1, though, so people that want it can hear it there. (see below)

Also assume that no one is going to ASK for your demo (someone will, don't worry, but assume that no one will). They're going to go to your website and maybe watch the first 30 seconds of it, and make their decision from there. They're not going to download something to burn it to a DVD and play it in their home theater -- if it's not streaming, they're not going to give you even 30 seconds.

So, in my opinion, if you plan on developing a 5.1 demo, make it your only online demo, and make it available somewhere where surround streaming is supported. Make it also compatible with stereo systems. Don't give someone the option of "Surround Sound Demo available on request," just make that the only option.

UPDATE: Official word from Vimeo is that they don't currently support surround sound, and they don't comment on upcoming features. BUT, Flash 11 just dropped, and that does support up to 7.1. (Also, Microsoft Silverlight supports surround) I would expect Vimeo to support surround sound in the near, if not very near, future.

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If Vimeo does than it great news to me! I can't find any information about it though, do you know anywhere I can read about it? I love working in surround, giving the audience a very centered place in the soundscape! Frustrated that I haven't been able to screen it on any other media than DVD, BD and cinema yet though... –  Christian van Caine Sep 28 '11 at 21:24
    
I can't find any documentation on it, to be honest, but there are a few videos that Vimeo didn't change the Dolby speaker routing. If anyone supports it, though, it'll be Vimeo. I'll send a message to tech support to see if I can get an official word on it. –  Dave Matney Sep 29 '11 at 18:31
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EDIT: G'day, work in DAWs, AM broadcast and digital broadcast. I have no experience in preparing audio for surround systems, but seeing as no one else has replied, I'll get the figurative ball rolling.

So... the question is what format the audio is mastered to? Well, I don't know why you'd be using a lossy format unless it's the only format the playback system can read. (which is pretty surprising) In which case, if it's the only format it can read, then shit, I guess that's your answer.

If you target systems can only read one codec (really? in 2011?) Why not make different demos for different systems?

(Am i missing something and being really stupid here?)

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When I send DVD copies of my reel out on the label I put a 5.1 surround logo on there so that if a perspective client has the ability to listen in surround they know to. The down mix is always supplied so the stereo will play if 5.1 decoders are not recognized.

Spencer

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