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  #1  
Old 02-26-2005, 02:58 PM
JRogers JRogers is offline
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Default On broadcast levels and QC...

I don't want to offend anyone but I have a strong opinion about the crapshoot of dealing with network broadcast levels and QC departments.

Imagine this scenario...
You are hired by (Network X) to be a QC person for delivered show masters. You have a basic knowledge of Video and Audio from your education (More than likely it will be video since you wanted to work in the operational part of a TV network). You get shown how to do your job. Your only job. To QC master tapes. You do your job as good as you can by catching all the problems you or the readout from the "tape checking computer" can find. You go to the letter by the guidelines that were made by a broadcast engineer to be made as simple as possible (Often defying common logic in order to make them simple to understand) This makes you look good to your supervisor. This means you are doing your job well.

Well, In this scenario the QC person is doing what they are told to do. They end up being like George Jetson in the end pushing buttons and looking at readouts. Audio, it is the simple thing to check compared to video. There is only a page of things to look at as opposed to six for video.

I have gotten guidelines that have said do "X" and then the show is rejected by a QC person who doesn't understand simple audio 101. I have one set of guidelines that say that the program should never go outside of this range on a VU meter:

-8dB to -2dB VU

Simple for the QC person to understand right? If I mixed a show like this it would be unlistenable. Oh, I could give them a show that way but they would have a big freak out if I did. They didn't take into effect that sometimes there are quiet moments like in a pause during a sentence. The guidelines are too simple.

I will sometimes get a show back and have to call up the QC department and have to explain to them that I can't make every second of the show fall within that area. If it is a quiet pause it will just be quieter than the words that are spoken. This is followed by confusion on the other side then I go into my regular lecture on how when people talk there is silence between words.

This is only ONE small part of what I have to deal with sometimes. I also have to ALWAYS put in a nat ambience so they don't reject the show for dropouts. It seems the machine they use to QC with can tell from frame to frame what the audio levels are. And of course they think that a 10 frame section that has no sound is a dropout on the tape.

Anyway, These examples are only from one set of cable networks that share a QC department. Thankfully, I have always had easier networks to please. I know video editors are getting the same crap since now since some places have the QC machines (I can't remember who makes these things...Videotek?).

OK, my little rant is over. It's just doing this for 10 years and sometimes it still gets to me.
I would love som opinions or horror stories.

Jim
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Old 02-26-2005, 03:12 PM
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TVPostSound TVPostSound is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

A rejected show because footsteps in the quiet parts mistaken for digital hits!!!!
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Old 02-26-2005, 03:55 PM
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Chief Technician Chief Technician is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

A :30 spot rejected because of a phase error that wasn't created by us.
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Old 02-26-2005, 04:19 PM
Brandonx1 Brandonx1 is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

A rejected show because cooking sizzle on the sfx split was mistaken for noise!
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Old 02-27-2005, 01:43 AM
greenwood greenwood is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

I had one rejected by the BBC they said Kermit the frog was one frame out of sync?????????

It still brings a smile every time I think of it.

Tony
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Old 02-27-2005, 10:13 AM
audiograce audiograce is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

There are litrerally HUNDREDS of similar stories. I've had a show rejected (major network) for a "Phase problem in the FX stem." It turned out to be a car by that had been panned left to right. (That'll teach me!)

Anyway, there is a larger issue here, which is the communications gap between broadcast and post production. There have been efforts in the television academy to open discussions. but they have not yielded any results as yet. There is great hope that digital broadcast will even out some of the inconsistencies that presently exist.

However, until that time, WE all need to do our part to communicate better with our broadcast partners. It's simple guys, pick up the phone and call until you reach someone who understands. It's frustrating, but worth while.

Let's do our part to make it better. Then, having done our part, we can really bitch about how lame the broadcasters are!

Good Luck!
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Old 02-27-2005, 03:21 PM
Eric L Eric L is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

I agree with TG that better communication can help avoid most of the problems with QC departments. However, I think that another issue is that quality "QCers" (pun intended) are cost prohibitive for most companies. How many facilities in hollywood treat QC as an entry level department? Too many. The people with good eyes and ears and a firm grasp on post production technology soon realize that they can make more money working elsewhere.

The current QC model is dependent on technicians like us verifying or discounting what the QCer flags. It is more of a "double check" system. The completely autonomous Quality Control department is as elusive as the fully funded school systems. Sure, we wish for it and work towards it, but the reality is that part of the on the job training of QCers involves feedback and interaction from the technical staff.

I once had a movie rejected for "fire like snaps and pops in audio through out film" When checked by me and a co-hort, we were amused to find that all the timecodes referred to the outside campfire scenes! Did I get mad. No of course not. I calmly called the producer and explained what it was, notated it on the QC report and moved on. No need to embarrass anyone or get upset. Half the time broadcast specs are delivered in a "telephone game" sort of way. By the time the info gets filtered to us through layer upon layer of non-technical people, it can be quite confusing. Still, it is nothing a phone call by you or the producer can't clear up.

Part of our job is to know what our clients need, even if they don't. They will appreciate us more if we help them understand specs instead of making them fell stupid because they don't. Hell, I learn something new about film making on every project. If I was made to feel stupid by someone each time, I'm not sure how long I would want to work in this industry.
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  #8  
Old 02-28-2005, 10:38 AM
audiograce audiograce is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

Well Said.
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  #9  
Old 04-22-2005, 10:26 AM
CharlesL CharlesL is offline
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Default Re: On broadcast levels and QC...

Hi mates,

Any idea what software or "tape checking computer" is used by the QCers?

Any way to get hold of them, so before submitting the Masters / Final Audio, we can run our AIFFs through it, so as to be more prepared when the QC report(s) comes back?

I thought it might help if such system could be used by us too, so that we can perhaps make remarks to the Producers and QCers in advance, so that time (and sometimes money) is not wasted for wrong QCs?

Regards,
[Charles]
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