Automated Quality Control


Thomas Dove TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Thomas Dove
Issue 109 - January 2016
Automated quality control for file-based media has been available to broadcasters for over a decade. The Vidcheck team designed and produced the very first product in this area. We have been working on this type of software since 2003 and are probably the most experienced team anywhere in the world. Many existing users of other products have since adopted our solutions.

Like many other transitions, the one to tapeless workflows is taking longer than the hyperbole, largely due to the costs of transition and the confusion of the many different file types and formats that edit systems and broadcasters have been using. Consequently transfer to and from tape remained in wide use. A key date, at least in the UK, was the DPP requirement that all deliveries to major UK broadcasters from October 2014 2014 onward should be file-based and conform to the DPP specified file formats.

The ground covered by automated QC can be broadly divided into several areas. Firstly there are UK transmission requirements such as ensuring PSE and loudness compliance. Secondly there are typical UK broadcaster specifications including correct video levels and a DPP delivery certificate.

Finally there is usually a long list of delivery requirements specific to the company receiving the content. These could be file formats, video and audio codecs, video resolution, frame rates, bit rates, aspect ratio, time codes, file duration, video levels, sample rate, bit rate and so on ad nauseam.

Leaving QC until just before transmission is too late because no time is left to correct problems. The DPP Producers Guide to File Delivery recommends that QC starts during the production phase. It also advises that automatic QC be used to check and report key video and audio parameters at all stages though production, post-production and distribution before the files are even delivered to the broadcaster.

Automated error correction

The first QC software products only looked for problems. Second generation products like Vidchecker provide not only full QC testing but also perform automatic correction of key parameters. These include video black and chroma levels, colour gamut, audio levels and audio loudness. Also PSE (flashing) checks to ensure content conforms to OFCOM requirements. Vidchecker automatically re-encodes the corrected files, reducing the time and expense of putting material back through the edit process for manual correction and re-encode.

Our Vidfixer product provides additional auto correction of items such timecode, length of colour bars, and black sequences according to user specified requirements. If a corrected file is produced by Vidchecker/Vidfixer, it is a new file with a different filename (typically the original filename plus corr with the date and time, although other suffixes can be added).

PSE regulations are specified in ITU-R BT 1702 which limits changes in brightness, moving patterns, and red images that can be present within video transmitted on UK television. These requirements are mandatory: if your video goes out contravening ITU-R BT 1702, the penalties can be expensive.

Automated QC is far more accurate than the manual approach, not least because the software stays alert from start to finish of a file, without distraction and 'without blinking'. It doesn't need a constant supply of coffee, take breaks or spend time discussing last night's football with colleagues. The automated process also provides efficient and thorough logging of every incident that needed attention. For example, the PSE specification says that the limit is three flashes per second of ± 20 candelas/m luminance but only when the screen luminance of the darker image is below 160 candelas/m, covering at least 25% of the screen area (20% when the strict limit is applied). I am sure that all Kit-Plus readers can instantly spot when the luminance is below 160 candelas/m and has changed by ± 20 candelas/m within the given time. No? Nor me.

Cost-efficiency

A single Vidchecker licence can process and correct four files simultaneously. We also offer a special low cost version, Vidchecker-post, specially for post-production houses with fewer files to process each day. Vidchecker-post has the entire QC, PSE checking and auto correction features of Vidchecker but processes one file at a time instead of four. It comes with templates for testing to DPP, Netflix and Apple iTunes delivery requirements, making the job of conformance testing and reporting straightforward and affordable. By the way, if you enjoy reading specifications, the delivery requirements are perhaps the most difficult to deal with as they are often in long documents. The 'iTunes Video and Audio Asset Guide 5.0' is 37 pages long; the NetFlix equivalent is 31 pages long with numerous options. Many others are as large and complex.

Our Vidchecker, Vidchecker-post and Vidfixer are Windows software applications to provide automatic quality control and optional correction of file-based media. Vidchecker and Vidchecker-post have identical test and correction features except that Vidchecker will QC and correct four files concurrently using a single license. Vidchecker-post will QC and correct one file at a time (and is roughly half the price of Vidchecker). Vidfixer does everything Vidchecker does plus more corrections, and transcode.The Vidfixer design mindset is 'Where we find a problem, we will fix it if at all possible'.

* Thomas Dove developed the first product for auto QC of file-based content in 2003 and in 2010 founded VidCheck which supplies auto QC solutions for file-based digital content to many of the worlds top broadcast media companies


Tags: iss109 | vidcheck | vidchecker | vidfix | qc | pse | Thomas Dove
Contributing Author Thomas Dove

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

    Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

  • Root6 at NAB 2012

    Root6 at NAB 2012

  • PlayBox Technology at BVE North 2011

    PlayBox Technology at BVE North 2011

  • Clear-Com E-IPA Card for Eclipse HX Digital Matrix at NAB 2018

    Clear-Com E-IPA Card for Eclipse HX Digital Matrix at NAB 2018

  • Clear-Com Eclipse HX at NAB 2013

    Clear-Com Eclipse HX at NAB 2013

  • Clear-Com Eclipse MADI Card at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Eclipse MADI Card at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com Eclipse at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Eclipse at NAB 2012

  • AXON at BVE North 2012

    AXON at BVE North 2012

  • Wohler at IBC2011

    Wohler at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • Sony PSE Rewrite The Future Online Training Sessions, Webinars sony rewrite the future

    Sony PSE Rewrite The Future Online Training Sessions, Webinars sony rewrite the future


Articles
AJA Video Systems - Ki Pro GO User Review with Spellbinder Films
Ben Sherriff The Ki Pro GO is a portable multi-channel H.264 recorder offering up to 4-channels of simultaneous HD and SD recording to off the shelf USB drives with redundant recording capabilities. Our friend Ben Sherriff tales a look
Tags: AJA | ki pro go | dit | h.264 | recorder | live events | usb recording | 10bit | Ben Sherriff
Contributing Author Ben Sherriff Click to read
In Ear Monitors Help The Cast And Crew of Americas Got Talent Cope With Covid19 Restrictions
KitPlus Capturing performances for television is a stressful business, especially if the programme is being filmed live. You want everything to be perfect but you are also aware that many things can go wrong, even with the best laid plans.
Tags: bubblebee | inear | sidekick | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read
ERA IaaS at University of Salford
KitPlus The University of Salford (UoS) is widely recognised in both academic and professional circles as a leading educational establishment in acoustics and media production. In 2011 the University moved its television and radio courses from its main campus just outside Salford city centre into the Orange Tower on the main piazza of MediaCityUK (MCUK).

This purpose-built hub for broadcasters, facility houses and production companies was created when redevelopment of the old Salford Quays docks area began in 2007. UoS was among the first institutions to consider moving to MCUK, along with the BBC, which had already committed to transfer many of its departments from London.

Tags: era | salford university | university of salford | seagate | mcuk | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read
ITN using Densitron Intelligent Display System across multiple news programmes
KitPlus Impressed by the system’s flexibility, ITN has gradually rolled-out the IDS solution for display and control applications across ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 news output
Tags: ids | densitron | itn | newsroom | display | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read
Using Modern Technology at Envy Provides a View into the Future of Post Production
Michael Darer ENVY’s use of modern technology, including remote edit capabilities and their expansive use of Signiant Media Shuttle, enables them to collaborate with customers and partners around the world, and made the transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic any easy one. Although project files and media are stored securely on-premises at ENVY’s facilities in London, they are able to collaborate globally thanks to their forward-thinking approach to post production.
Tags: envy | signiant | media shuttle | assetts | Michael Darer
Contributing Author Michael Darer Click to read