20 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2011 9:59 AM by E Baldwin

    Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)

    Keith_Clark Level 2

      I can't help but notice that I can purchase Sony Vegas 10 for $600 and it comes with a full fledged 5.1 rendering codec, out of box. I spend $800 on premiere Pro CS5.5 and still have to spend and extra $250 on the surcode codec. Why hasn't adobe either licensed a different codec, or just come up with their own? How is it that Sony has done it, and for less I may add, but adobe hasn't? Just curious on the why and how. Can't stand Vegas... But 5.1 out of box is pretty nice.

        • 1. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
          D&R Films Level 1

          I agree... when they added Audition to 5.5 they should have included a 5.1 encoder. Bring final timeline in Audition and export to 5.1 .ac3 or even dts. It would have been a great time to add the feature.

          • 2. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
            Keith_Clark Level 2

            demon_hunter83 wrote:

             

            and still have to spend and extra $250 on the surcode codec.

             

            oops, correction. $300 anyone have any info for me on this? just curious is all...

            • 3. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
              Colin Brougham Level 6

              I have no concrete evidence of any of the following, but here are my guesses:

               

              1. Dolby licensing is expensive. Period.
              2. Most of the encoding and decoding technologies in Adobe software are licensed from other companies, like Mainconcept for MPEG2 and H.264. Those licenses contribute to the cost of Premiere, but they're necessary to include because they're core to so many workflows. Dolby Digital 5.1, on the other hand, is not.
              3. Sony is able to leverage the fact that it also manufactures consumer and professional level hardware of all kinds, some of which employs 5.1 surround technology.
              4. Sony is a bigger company than Adobe, and is able to throw its weight around when licensing Dolby in bulk..
              5. Sony is using Vegas as a loss leader, adding features to it and pricing it such that it motivates the purchase of Sony professional video equipment. What's a few bucks lost on a Dolby license when you have the potential to sell a $20,000 video camera?


              I can verify or provide evidence for none of those. Talk amongst yourselves...

              • 4. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                D&R Films Level 1

                That makes perfect sense Colin, but (isn't there always a "but"?) Adobe already include an AC3 encoder in AME, so how much more would it cost to add 5.1? $300 per user seems a little high to go from 2.0 to 5.1 don't you think?

                • 5. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                  Keith_Clark Level 2

                  Colin Brougham wrote:

                   

                  I have no concrete evidence of any of the following, but here are my guesses:

                   

                  1. Dolby licensing is expensive. Period.
                  2. Most of the encoding and decoding technologies in Adobe software are licensed from other companies, like Mainconcept for MPEG2 and H.264. Those licenses contribute to the cost of Premiere, but they're necessary to include because they're core to so many workflows. Dolby Digital 5.1, on the other hand, is not.
                  3. Sony is able to leverage the fact that it also manufactures consumer and professional level hardware of all kinds, some of which employs 5.1 surround technology.
                  4. Sony is a bigger company than Adobe, and is able to throw its weight around when licensing Dolby in bulk..
                  5. Sony is using Vegas as a loss leader, adding features to it and pricing it such that it motivates the purchase of Sony professional video equipment. What's a few bucks lost on a Dolby license when you have the potential to sell a $20,000 video camera?


                  I can verify or provide evidence for none of those. Talk amongst yourselves...

                  thats what i assumed, but didnt know if there was more to it. like i assumed that maybe the 5.1 license wasnt the expesive part, but who you got it from. and maybe sony developed their own ac3 codec, and only had to pay a smaller royalty directly to dolby labs, where as Adobe is getting theres from Mani, so they have to pay 2 pockets (mani, and dolby), so i figured that adobe should do the same, (develope their own codec, taking out the middle-man) that was just my guess though. but your assumptions make more sense than mine

                  • 6. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                    Keith_Clark Level 2

                    D&R Films wrote:

                     

                    That makes perfect sense Colin, but (isn't there always a "but"?) Adobe already include an AC3 encoder in AME, so how much more would it cost to add 5.1? $300 per user seems a little high to go from 2.0 to 5.1 don't you think?

                     

                    but dolby is a dvd spec requirement. period. (right? or is that just BluRay?) so you have to have SOMETHING. dolby stereo it is!

                    • 7. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                      D&R Films Level 1

                      demon_hunter83 wrote:

                       

                      D&R Films wrote:

                       

                      That makes perfect sense Colin, but (isn't there always a "but"?) Adobe already include an AC3 encoder in AME, so how much more would it cost to add 5.1? $300 per user seems a little high to go from 2.0 to 5.1 don't you think?

                       

                      but dolby is a dvd spec requirement. period. (right? or is that just BluRay?) so you have to have SOMETHING. dolby stereo it is!

                       

                       

                      I believe just Bluray. DVD can have PCM or Mpeg audio as well.

                      • 8. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                        E Baldwin Level 1

                        There are certified Dolby Digitial Encoders that are not as expensive as Surcode but they are not logo certified which means that the user can't use the DD logo on his work.  Tmpgenc's Master Works for example.  Check the Dolby Labs certification list to see which ones are certified. One reason that Surcode is expensive is it logo-certified which means you can use the DD logo on your productions.

                         

                        Ed

                        • 9. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                          D&R Films Level 1

                          That's not too bad then. Being able to legally put DD 5.1 on your product is a good selling point.

                          • 10. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                            Keith_Clark Level 2

                            well heres another question if anyone wants to stab which is something else i've been wondering...

                             

                            what REALLY is the difference between DTS and Dolby?

                             

                            Are the source tracks set-up differently (ie: mastering, mixing, EQ, etc) or are they both identical source material, but the actual codec is read and perceived differently? IE: (say a legit hollywood movie with DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1) are the 5.1 tracks created from the same finished source non-encoded 5.1 audio track? or is it completely different all the way through from front to end in how they are both handled?

                             

                            i prefer DTS... but can't ever put my thumb on WHY... i just do

                            • 11. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                              Jim_Simon Level 8

                              DTS uses a higher bitrate, the CD standard of roughly 1.5 Mbps, to encode the multiple channels.  Dolby Digital uses lesser bitrates, typically 384 or less, so there is a lot more compression going on.  Audiophiles claim the difference in quite audible.

                              • 12. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                Keith_Clark Level 2

                                JSS1138 wrote:

                                 

                                DTS uses a higher bitrate, the CD standard of roughly 1.5 Mbps, to encode the multiple channels.  Dolby Digital uses lesser bitrates, typically 384 or less, so there is a lot more compression going on.

                                 

                                yeah, That info is easily accessed with any search query, but does anyone happen to know if the source material is prepared differently for the final exports of each different  5.1 lossy codec, and how so? Or do the audio engineers just take the same 6 channel audio and export it as ac-3 and DTS, and the difference we hear is simply the difference in bit-rates and compression, and possibly how the receiver decodes each?

                                • 13. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                  Jim_Simon Level 8

                                  It probably varies.  I've heard of sound designers using two different mixes, and using the same mix for all versions.

                                  • 14. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                    Pijetro Level 1

                                    Well, in my early days of .AC3 encoding, there used to be a whole bunch of parameters to use, due to DVDs having such a huge range of audio levels. (ie train crash, cut to quiet reading room).

                                    I believe with DTS, it was designed for higher fidelity, without the need for look ahead or averaging in the encoding..This is where symphony, or concert recordings would benefit from DTS's compression and encoding...

                                     

                                    I'm also pretty sure, that this would include all the parameters for encoding either stream..Sort of like the video equivalent of .H264 and Mpeg2.

                                    • 15. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                      neil wilkes Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      Pijetro wrote:

                                       

                                      Well, in my early days of .AC3 encoding, there used to be a whole bunch of parameters to use, due to DVDs having such a huge range of audio levels. (ie train crash, cut to quiet reading room).

                                      I believe with DTS, it was designed for higher fidelity, without the need for look ahead or averaging in the encoding..This is where symphony, or concert recordings would benefit from DTS's compression and encoding...

                                       

                                      I'm also pretty sure, that this would include all the parameters for encoding either stream..Sort of like the video equivalent of .H264 and Mpeg2.

                                      Close but not quite the whole story.

                                      The reason for the massive amount of metadata in Dolby Digital encodes is to ensure it will play properly on decode. All complexity is therefore in the encoder.

                                      Additionally, Dolby Digital 5.1 must contain downmix data in case some happy idiot plays the 5.1 when they only have a stereo setup and lose most of the material, and yet more of it is to ensure correct playback over old-fashioned RF type connections to CRT TV via CoAxial TV cable.

                                      The DRC (Dynamic Range Control) options mentioned are designed to allow playback of material with extensive dynamic range late at night by reducing the dynamics. DTS does not do this and instead maintains the original dynamics, intact.

                                      Symphony & concert recordings benefit from DTS over DD because it is a far superior encoding system. Not only does it use more bits, but where Dolby Digital goes non-directional above 10kHz at 384kbps and 15kHz at 448kbps, DTS maintains complete discrete separation all the way up to 48kHz (if using DTS9624 which is perfectly DVD legal) and best of all it does not use Dialnorm.

                                       

                                      As far as licensing goes, Dolby Digital is not free technology.

                                      The stereo consumer grade encoder you get in Encore is not logo certtified (DVD using this encoder cannot carry the DD logo at all) and it's parameters are not editable. The SurCode one is the cheapest it is possible to get a fully logo licensed encoder for - and thank your lucky stars you are not kitting out for Blu-Ray, as BD logo licensing is $4,000 per BD book per 5 years - which is possible because SurCode are taking the hit on this and making nothing. Sony, on the other hand, are indeed doing the MainConcept implementation as a loss leader, to try & get people to use Vegas instead - Ain't gonna work for me as I just cannot get on with it in any shape, way or form.

                                       

                                      Spec codecs....

                                      DVD - Mandatory is Dolby Digital up to 5.1 at 192kbps to 448 kbps, with 5.1 at either 384 or 448 kbps. Anything higher is BD compliant to 640kbps.

                                      DTS is optional, meaning unsupported by a lot of players excepot in passthrough mode, and not even that in a lot more.

                                      5.1 LPCM is theoretically possible (the specs allow for 2 to 8 channels at 16 to 24 bits at 48kHz or 96kHz to a maximum stream bitrate of 6144kbps) but was never implemented in any players at all.

                                       

                                      Blu-Ray is a lot more complicated.

                                      LPCM 5.1 is mandatory - all players MUST support this.

                                      Dolby Digital is mandatory, as is DD Plus.

                                      DTS-HD MAS & Dolby True HD are both optional in 5.1, but DTS Core Audio is mandatory and as all players can read this, and it is a part of the DTS-HD MAS stream, a lot of authors just use DTS-HD MAS and have that do all types.

                                       

                                      Hope this helps

                                      • 16. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                        the_wine_snob Level 9

                                        When Minnetonka Audio, the agent for SurCode, offered a discount for the DD 5.1 SS encoder plug-in, that price (the ~ US$ 250) was almost all the licensing fee from Dolby Labs. Minnetonka did not fully "give it away," but the pricing was closer than most folk realize. It was not a profit-center for them. Minnetonka virtually opened up their books for me, when I inquired about volume licensing some years ago.

                                         

                                        As for how Sony includes the encoder in Vegas, one would have to contact Dolby Labs, and Sony. My guess would be that it's because of some deal between those two companies, and one that was not passed on to Minnetonka Audio/SurCode. I would anticipate that it might have something to do with other reciprocal  deals, and maybe volume licensing with very high numbers, but just do not know.

                                         

                                        Hunt

                                        • 17. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                                          Neil,

                                           

                                          Thank you for dropping by this thread. Your expertise is always appreciated.

                                           

                                          Hunt

                                          • 18. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                            E Baldwin Level 1

                                            Another reason to consider Surcode. I found the ac3 stereo level produced by the Adobe Digital Stereo encoder (same for TMPGEnc) is considerably higher than the level produced by  the Vegas Pro Dolby certified encoder set for Stereo DVD. The only way I could get the levels of the Sony DD encoder to match the Adobe stereo encoder was to set the the Sony DD encoder Dialnorm to -31, Line mode profile to none and RF mode profile to none which defeats some of the reasons to have DD.

                                             

                                            Ed

                                            • 19. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                              neil wilkes Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                              E Baldwin wrote:

                                               

                                              Another reason to consider Surcode. I found the ac3 stereo level produced by the Adobe Digital Stereo encoder (same for TMPGEnc) is considerably higher than the level produced by  the Vegas Pro Dolby certified encoder set for Stereo DVD. The only way I could get the levels of the Sony DD encoder to match the Adobe stereo encoder was to set the the Sony DD encoder Dialnorm to -31, Line mode profile to none and RF mode profile to none which defeats some of the reasons to have DD.

                                               

                                              Ed

                                              Hi Ed.

                                               

                                              The Consumer grade encoder in Encore will have Dialnorm set to a default of -27 which is equivalent to a level; reduction of around -4dB (or about 66%).

                                              Why this is so is beyond me, as even though most encoders set a provisional "default" of -27 for dialnorm, it is only really relevant in surround encoding as far as I can see (for all practical purposes anyway) as dialnorm is  control word (or metadata) that is there to assign a given, known value to the dialogue channel to maintain intelligibility. This fails thanks to overcompression, but that is another thread altogether.

                                              • 20. Re: Why surcode? (feed my curiosity)
                                                E Baldwin Level 1

                                                Hi Neil,

                                                 

                                                Thank you for your response. I have not worked with surround sound.  In the audio level tests I ran on both the TMPGEnc and Encore consumer grade digital audio encoders they did not show any reduction in the amplitude of the audio levels which may indicate they did not have Dialnorm or it was set to -31.  There was an audable level difference from DVD to DVD. When I used the Vegas Pro Certified DD Encoder set for stereo DVD, ie the Dialnorm set -27..., the output level was down ~ 4db but there was little or no audiable difference from DVD to DVD when played. Maybe there is no Dialnorm in the consumer grade DD encoders?

                                                 

                                                Ed