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TECHNOLOGIES date, at least in the UK, was the DPP requirement that all deliveries to major UK broadcasters from October 2014 onward should be file-based and conform to the DPP specified file formats. Thomas Dove EFFECTIVE ARCHIVE SOLUTIONS FOR BROADCAST CUSTOMERS 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 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 The ground covered by of colour bars, and black automated QC can be broadly sequences according to user divided into several areas. Firstly specified requirements. If a there are UK transmission corrected file is produced by requirements such as ensuring Vidchecker/Vidfixer, it is a new PSE and loudness compliance. file with a different filename Secondly there are typical UK (typically the original filename broadcaster specifications plus ‘corr’ with the date and including correct video levels time, although other suffixes and a DPP delivery certificate. can be added). Finally there is usually a long list PSE regulations are specified of delivery requirements specific in ITU-R BT 1702 which limits to the company receiving changes in brightness, moving the content. These could be patterns, and red images that file formats, video and audio can be present within video codecs, video resolution, frame transmitted on UK television. rates, bit rates, aspect ratio, These requirements are time codes, file duration, video mandatory: if your video goes levels, sample rate, bit rate and out contravening ITU-R BT so on ad nauseam. 1702, the penalties can be Leaving QC until just before expensive. transmission is too late because Automated QC is far more no time is left to correct accurate than the manual problems. The DPP ‘Producer’s approach, not least because Guide to File Delivery’ the software stays alert from recommends that QC starts start to finish of a file, without during the production phase. It distraction and ‘without also advises that automatic QC blinking’. It doesn’t need a be used to check and report constant supply of coffee, key video and audio parameters take breaks or spend time at all stages though production, discussing last night’s football post-production and distribution with colleagues. The automated before the files are even process also provides efficient delivered to the broadcaster. and thorough logging of Automated error every incident that needed correction attention. For example, the The first QC software products PSE specification says that only looked for problems. the limit is three flashes per Second generation products second of ± 20 candelas/m² like Vidchecker provide not luminance but only when the only full QC testing but also screen luminance of the darker perform automatic correction of image is below 160 candelas/ key parameters. These include m², covering at least 25% of video black and chroma levels, the screen area (20% when colour gamut, audio levels the ‘strict’ limit is applied). I am and audio loudness. Also PSE sure that all Kit-Plus readers (flashing) checks to ensure can instantly spot when content conforms to OFCOM the luminance is below 160 requirements. Vidchecker candelas/m² and has changed automatically re-encodes the by ± 20 candelas/m² within the corrected files, reducing the given time. No? Nor me. 62 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 109 JANUARY 2016 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 world’s top broadcast media companies.