Broadcast Television / Film Video-Audio Quality Control FAQ

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Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get about Quality Control of Video/Audio, and the Broadcast / Film Industry.

Q: What types of Television shows, or movies need a Quality Control Report

A: Virtually all Films, movie, and TV shows require a Quality Control Check at some point during the post production process. Television networks will not allow a show to air that has not received an approval or passing grade on a QC report. Often the network will want a third party QC as the post facility that did the editing and output of the show may not be as stringent with their own work as an outside company would.
Film makers who get a distribution deal with a sales agent or distributor will also be required to have a full video and audio Quality Control Report done before they accept a submission.

Q: What are the types of media that I can deliver to you to do a QC Report on my show?

A: That all depends on what you are delivering the finished product on. If you are delivering a file, such as quicktime or avid, then we should QC that file which is the finished product. If it is being delivered on tape such as HDCAM SR, then we should QC the tape after it has been laid off from the edit master file.

Q: What happens if I have a project QC’d and it is rejected?

A: In any QC report that we do, if their are problems that cause the show to be rejected we can work with you to
fix the problems, aside from Quality Control we are a Full Service Post Production House. When laying off a show or movie to tape, the file could be QC’d first than when it is approved the outputting to tape can be done, but as most distributors, and networks want the final product to undergo Quality Control testing, the tape would have to be QC’d again. (Problems could occur during the layoff process which would not be noted in the file QC) If you wait to do the QC until after the tape is made and their are issues, you would have to fix the original file and either do insert edit “punch ins” to the affected area of the tape or possibly re-do the layoff. Either way there will be extra cost involved. Being able to deliver a project as a file eliminates the gamble of QC’ing the file before going to tape, or waiting until the tape is made and possibly having to fix or re-do it

Q: What types of issues or problems would cause a TV show, or movie to be rejected in the quality control process?

A: There are myriad different scenarios that could cause a tape or file undergoing broadcast QC to be rejected.
These include: High luminance, low black levels, incorrect horizontal or vertical blanking, video hits, audio hits
and much more. You can take a look at our QC Process page to get a more in depth view of some of the issues we look for.

Q: I am going to have (or try to have) my movie on Netlflix, can you do my QC report for me?

A: While we are not a Netflix Preferred Vendor(NPV) (only a couple of very large companies are) we have applied for NPV status and have conferred with Netflix in which they have informed us that we can do Quality Control for Netflix movies as long as the producers have no contractual obligation that an NPV do the work. Using our company over an NPV has many advantages, our prices are much lower, our turnaround time is much faster, and with 26 years QC experience we have decades more then an operator working for an NPV.

Q: What kind of turnaround time can I expect when sending you a project for QC?

A: Our motto is we are available on short notice 24/7, a full Quality Control inspection and report will be delivered to you usually within 1-2 days.

Q: I have completed the editing of my movie and now need to deliver it as a file, what is the best file type to use?

A: We recommend Apple Pro Res 4:2:2 HQ, (whether high def or standard)This is a quicktime .mov file that can be exported from Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere. For 2K Files Apple Pr Res HQ 4:4:4:4 We can also work with Avid files such as DNXHD as well.

Q: I am a first time film director and have signed a distribution deal. My movie is complete and they have given me a list of “deliverables”, I am new to the post process and not familiar with what they are asking for, what can I do?

A: We work with new film makers frequently and often act as a consultant / post supervisor, we can work with you in all phases of the post process. We will work to make sure the QC is approved, fixes are done if necessary, and the deliverable list is complete, you can contact us anytime for more info.

Q: My movie was rejected in QC for mono audio, even though I know the movie is in stereo what do I do?

A: This is a common problem often found in quality control processes. Stereo audio fails as mono because the movie was output to a final self contained quicktime file incorrectly. During Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere file export, audio being exported must be panned. These program’s audio mixers contain sliders / knobs that have to be set for stereo audio, they must be panned left for left channels & vice-versa for right channels. Additionally files containing more than 2 channels must have audio tracks output to the correct corresponding channels for export. Editing program default all outputs to Channels 1 & 2; additional tracks on exported files will not be found if not exported correctly. We offer audio & video fixing, conforming, and outputting, as part of our Finishing Services, and can help with any issues such as these that need to be corrected in order to pass QC

Q: I have a movie I need to submit for a film festival, they want a file, but I only have the movie on tape. Can you help me with this?

A: Absolutely, QC Central offers a full range of Digitzing Services, and file conversion services, we can take virtually any tape format whether high-def, (HDCAM SR, HDCAM,) or standard def, (digital betacam, betacam SP) and convert the tape to a Apple pro res file, which can then be editid, color corrected, or have other fixes, and re-output to a new file.

Q: What are the different sets of audio tracks that make up the audio configuration.

A: A project being submitted for Quality Control could have many different combinations of audio tracks. For movies the audio sets that may be included are Stereo Mix Left & Right, Stereo M&E Left & Right, and 5.1. (6 Channel Mix)
If only one set of these sets of tracks are on the tape / file (Stereo Mix or 5.1) that is considered a one pass QC. There may also be one or both of the other 2 sets of tracks making the QC either two pass or three. A “Pass” is watching the whole movie through for video and whichever set of audio tracks we are monitoring at the time. So a 3 pass QC will have the movie or show watched / gone over 3 separate times.

Q: What is an “M&E” track and what can cause it to be rejected

A. M&E refers to “Music & Effects,” in an M&E track all audio that is on the stereo mix track is present except dialogue. The reason or this is for the purpose of dubbing the movie or show into other languages. All other audio is present and the audio dubbing facility just has to add dialogue.
An M&E track is primarily rejected for “Missing effects in M&E” which means any sound effect that is present in the stereo mix track that is not also present in the M&E track. This could include footsteps, doors opening and closing, tapping on a desk, hand clapping or any type sound effect. All must be present in M&E tracks. We specialize in fixing missing effects in M&E, even without source files if we have to. You can learn more about our Audio fixing at our Audio QC & Post page.

Q: What are the correct “specs” for a 5.1 mix.

A: Officially there are no written specs for a 5.1 mix per say; unlike other video and audio specs that have been defined over the years by SMPTE. (The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) But all the large studios produce 5.1 mixes in the same way: The first two tracks of the mix are called Left / Right. These should be the same as an M&E track (music and effects only) The third track is called “Center” which should be dialogue only. The Forth track is called LFE or “Low Frequency Effects” This should be only deep bass sounds which would normally come from a subwoofer. Both the Center and LFE tracks must be mono as they are one track each. The fifth and sixth tracks are called “Left Surround / Right Surround” which is basically a match of the Left / Right tracks but at a lower level.
Mistakes on a 5.1 track that we often find (and may be approved by distributor or network) include.
1. Dialogue on any track other then “Center” which is the only place it should be
2. Music and / or effects in “Center” track which should be dialogue only
3. LFE track not containing Low Frequency effects only, or LFE missing completely.
4. Left / Right and or Left Surround / Right Surround tracks not being in stereo.

We can work with you to get your 5.1 mix correct.

Q: What is Textless Material? and why was my project rejected for not having it present.

A: “Textless Material” is any shot of the movie or show that contains text provided separately without the text. Examples of “Text” Include Opening and end titles, subtitles, location titles, and any other writing on the screen during the show. Movie and Television companies ask for textless material for the purpose of converting the show into another language. The procedure for Textless material is to take every shot with text and assemble them without the text in order one minute after the end of the film. The Foreign distributors will take those textless shots and insert them into the spots where their corresponding texted shots were thereby replacing the texted shots with textless shots, they will then add the new foreign language text. Many distributors or networks will not accept shows or movies without the textless shots.

Q: I shot my movie in 4K, Is that the best version for you to do the QC report on?

A: This all depends on what your distributor is asking for. If you have obtained distribution, or have a sales agent you should find out what they are requiring. Usually of a deliverables sheet includes a 4K (or UHD version) of the movie they will also want an HD version. Many distributors and agents are still only going with HD for their submissions. In fact after several years now 4K has not really taken off like many hoped it would, at QC Central 90% of the work we get is still in HD.
Also HD is less expensive to do a Quality Control Report on. If you are not required to deliver 4K it would be best to down-convert the movie to HD for QC. Virtually all anomalies found in 4K will also be present in the HD version. We can also do a QC in full 4K as well if needed.

Q: Our Deliverables lists includes 5.1 M&E Mix, and Audio Stems. Is this part of The QC?

A: In most cases the 5.1 M&E mix is not included in The QC report, although in some instances it is required, which would make the self-contained quicktime file to be QC’d a 16 channel file instead of the usual 10; it also adds an additional pass to the Quality Control Process. Audio Stems which are separate “D,M,E” files are individual audio tracks (.Aiff, or .wav) that contain dialogue, music, & effects. These files can be used to re-mix the audio of the movie. These are delivered separately from the final Quicktime file that is the movie.

Q: My movie was rejected for “Missing Effects in M&E” What does this mean

A: The M&E track is “Music & Effects” only. It is used for the purpose of dubbing a film into another language.
The M&E track should contain all audio that is in the stereo mix track except English (or whatever language the movie is in) dialogue. M&E tracks need to be “fully filled” in order to be approved. Often the M&E track will not contain effects that are in the stereo M&E track. These all need to be present. Many times the problem arises because the effects that come through the mic while shooting are used in the final mix, and if a character is talking during an effect it cannot be used M&E. In that case the effect must be re-created. This is one of the Finishing services that we provide.

Q:My QC report says my film has a non-standard aspect ratio, what does this mean?

A:The Aspect ratio is the size and shape of the screen while viewing the movie. It is the ratio between the Vertical lines (top and bottom) and the sides (left and right) of the edge of the picture. The standard for high def broadcast TV and movies is 16X9 which is the ratio on your home TV, A 16X9 Full frame (1.78 to 1) will fill the entire frame. There are also matted versions of movies where the top and bottom of the picture are narrower than a full frame (sometimes called Letterbox) Most movies if not full frame are 2.39 or 2.40 to 1. There are other aspect ratios like 1.85 which is not used as much these days. As aspect ratio can be gauged to be correct by doing a “line count” on a waveform monitor.
This measures the “active video” as opposed to the black at top, bottom, or on sides. As an example a 1Tj6X9 full frame picture will have active video that starts on line 21 and ends on line 550, the rest of the lines being blank. Other aspect ratios have there own line count measurements.
If a program has a line count that does not match one of the standard aspect ratios (1.78, 1.85, 2.39, 2.40) it is judged to be non-standard. This often happens a result of an output error when the file was being made. It can be corrected by re-outputting the file correctly.

Q: What is HDR? And what is the difference between HDR & SDR.

A: SDR stands for Standard Dynamic Range, which is the standard for most UHD / 4K content currently being produced. HDR stands or High Dynamic Range, and is the newest technology being used to make the picture look optimized.
HDR has been used in the past by photographers using programs like Photoshop to increase the color and contrast of a photo. HDR is used to increase the picture quality of both the highlights & shadows of a photo. Photoshop has a filer called Shadows & Highlights that will do that to some degree, but the picture can then be manipulated in selected areas only to improve the quality of just one piece of the picture, this produces a dramatically improved quality to the shot. In video computerization can produce the same effect.
There are different color spacing with SDR & HDR. SDR uses the ITU-Rec 709 color space which is the same used in hi-definition video. More advanced color spacing and gamut are used for HDR including Rec. 2020 which is used for UHD HDR.
There are also higher levels of HDR like HDR 10, which requires an HDMI 2.0 connection, & Dolby Vision which will become more prevalent in the near future. For now most UHD / 4k programming is being done in UHD / SDR

Q: OK we are ready to send your are project for QC, What exactly do we need to send

A: Glad you asked We have a page that answers that very question in fine detail it’s called What You Need To Send Us For Film QC Please refer to this sheet for how to proceed. Of course we are also available to answer any additional questions by phone or text anytime.