This goes out to my fellow South African colleagues out there: Is there a spec of dB levels / mix standards that is required by the SABC/MNET/E-TV for a commercial/program's final mix output and if so, where can I git me filthy grubby paws on it?
Andre, they probably follow AES guidelines and standards which are available (for $$) at the AES website. Maybe someone here has a current set? If you are simply creating a stereo mix then it's pretty much the same as it is for music mixes; well balanced, full frequency mixes with just a touch of buss compression. You should place a brick-wall limiter over the final mix buss set to -0.01 db to protect from digital clipping.
If you are creating a surround mix then you should essentially do the same thing only with muluti-channel compression and final brick-wall limiting. You might simply contact the network and ask about surround formats they support, if any.
It's never a bad idea to include test tones such as 10 sec of 1khz sine wave at -18 db as reference. If you are delivering your project on DVD, be sure to make tones a separate chapter index. If you are handing your mix to a video editor, be sure they don't screw things up by changing levels prior to finishing/authoring.
One thing I've learned over the years is that I don't need to make things overly loud and compressed, the station will do that for sure. Mix TV, Film and commercials to sound good on your reference monitors and in your car, on your tv, even if you have to raise the level a bit on your tv. At broadcast, they typically iron your mix completely flat with something like a TC Finalizer or some other such box.
Just go for it and know that there is very likely a cool person at the network that would be happy to answer your questions.
A quick Google search got me this:
It is a SABC technical specifications paper from 2004, back in the old analog days, where it says you should make a test tone at 50% volume and not let the program exceed 100% volume (which is 6 dB above the test tone).
Translated to digital scale that means you should make a test tone at -18 dB FS and put at brickwall limiter at -12 dB FS. If you have a Waves L1, L3 or a McDSP ML4000, you should use one of those as they are pretty transparent, and you need to compress your program a bit for television, as it is often viewed at a lower volume than your mixing volume.
In Europe you can not exceed -10 dB as the max level for your program, or it won't be approved.
There may be new technical specifications coming up, requiring loudness metering, but you'll probably be fine with this for now.
Use your ears! =)
last week I get request to make max -9 dbFS with average -12dbFS :) it's in Russia, commercial. And our channel translate -6 dbfs