Film & Movie Post Production QC Procedure For Distribution

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Updated March 14 2024, by Rick Recco, Owner of QC Central. He has over 30 years of experience in the Film Post Production and Quality Control Business-

Film & Movie Post Production QC Procedure. An overview of how a Broadcast Quality Control check for Movie & Television distribution is conducted. & Issues that look & listen for.

There are different types of Movie, Film, & Television Post Production Quality Control. This Film & Movie Post Production QC Procedure will explain them. The most intensive Quality Control check is the 100% QC (or first QC, or Master QC) This is a complete review of the file, (or tape) from head to tail and involves all aspects of Quality Control. 100% QC usually takes 2.5 to 3.5 times the run time of the show to complete a first pass QC (Video and one set of audio tracks).

If there are additional sets of audio tracks (stereo M&E, 5.1 mix, dialogue, and/or music-only tracks, etc.), There will be additional “passes” to the QC one for each set of audio tracks. A typical movie project may have

  • Stereo Mix (2 channels)
  • Stereo Music and Effects (M&E) (2 channels)
  • 5.1 Mix (6 channels)
  • 5.1 M&E Mix (6 channels)

So, a full QC of a feature film could have up to 16 channels, which for a 90 movie, would take approximately 10 hours to complete. Virtually all programs that are going to a distributor, sales agent, VOD platform or TV network will require a QC report to be submitted with the project

The steps to a 100% Broadcast Quality Control Procedure are as follows:.

Film & Movie Post Production QC Procedure Video Scope
The correct readings for Bars & Tones

Once we begin work on a movie, film, or Television project, we will attempt to procure a Spec. Sheet or deliverables list. These will specify what standard, format, time code, head format (bars / tones / slate, countdown, 2 pop) and audio configuration the final self-contained QuickTime file should contain. Part of the QC process is to make sure that every aspect of the Spec. Sheet, work order, or deliverables list is met. Additionally, we make sure that the project conforms to the correct and legal specifications set forth by SMPTE and industry standards.

Step 1. Making sure that the file is the correct project.

a. Making sure the media is the correct standard and format, checking the title, file name, and number. Often, there may be several versions of a particular show, or movie. They can have different aspect ratios, standards, formats, languages or audio configurations. We want to make sure we have the correct version of the project for the report

b. Checking to make sure that information on the slate, is correct. The slate at the head of program contains Title, Standard, format, aspect ratio, run time, audio configuration & date, these need to be correct.

c. Making sure file type, time code, and aspect ratio are the correct versions.

The next step is to check all technical specs of file / tape. The specs. are all noted on page 1 of the report. A list of problems / issues in the program is on page 2 of the QC Report. During this phase, we will be checking the following:

Step 2 Spec. Check

a. Are audio tracks in the correct order, and in the correct stereo pairings?

b. Are Luminance, Chrominance, & Black levels correct in bars, and do they match program?

c. Are Horizontal Blanking, and Vertical Blanking correct throughout program? Are there any framing errors, during program?

d. Is the aspect ratio correct, standard, and of the type the distributor requested?

e.are all titles, & subtitles, in safe title and action area, and in the correct place?

f. Is Run Time Correct?

g. Are video specs correct, such as Overall bit rate / mode, color space, & scan type? Are audio specs correct, such as Audio data rate, audio bit depth, sampling rate, and codec?

h. Is closed captioning present and decoding correctly?

i. Is the aspect ratio of the movie or show correct? Does the line count (vertical interval) match the specifications of the program?Is it a standard aspect ratio (1.78, 1.85, 2.35, etc.)?

j. Does the program comply with all aspects of the deliverable Spec. Sheet the distributor or network provided? (Often, when a distributor or network provides a “spec sheet,” which has all the guidelines for exactly how they want the project, they can sometimes run in excess of 60 pages. We read through the entire booklet, and make sure that everything is correct in the file or tape as per specifications.

Step 3 Watch down / Viewing

The Third step is to watch and listen to the entire program and note any/all problems that occur in the program on the QC report. We use a rating system from 1 to 3 to determine the severity of the problem. The ratings are as follows:.

1. Minor Problem, no fix needed, Just calling attention to what is there.

2. Marginal. These issues should be fixed before air, if possible and time permitting.

2+. Marginal to Severe. Program is placed on hold for 2+. Fixes are recommended, but the client(s) will determine whether to address these issues.

3. Rejected. Project is not suitable for air, and must be fixed or redone.

We advise all clients to present the report and consult with their distributor, sales agent or network as to what they determine to be issues that must be fixed versus issues that can be approved as is. Whether a project is going to a domestic or International market is often a determining factor.

Step 4. Check the program for problems

a.  Note film problems (dirt, splices, stretches, streaks, scratches, etc.) if applicable

b.  Note instances of video or audio levels that are out of spec. (Luminance, Chrominace, Blanking, Audio Loudness, and peaks etc.)

c.  Make sure all titles are within safe title area.

d.  Check for Video Hits

e.  Make sure audio is correct, in phase, and conforms to audio standards of show

f.  Note any program audio problems (ticks, pops, scratches, mutes, low level, missing dialogue, etc.)

g.  Note other video issues (Freeze Frames, motion lag, moiré, crushed blacks, contaminated blacks, overexposed whites, telecine misfires, framing errors, conversion errors, frame blending, pixel errors, and many other potential problems).
h.  Make sure that textless material covers all texted shots in the program (if applicable)

Step 5. Complete report.

With Pass, Fail, or Hold determination. If program fails or is placed on hold, recommendations for how to fix.

Step 6. Consultation with the client regarding Fixing If necessary

We will make recommendations on what and how to fix specific issues and in what order of importance they need to be addressed. We will also be available to answer any questions during the fixing process

Step 7. Fix / Spot check

After all fixes have been done, the file can be sent back to us for a Fix & spot check. We will go check all fixed items, and adjust the report. After all issues have been fixed and completed, the status of the report is amended to approved, at which point the final master file can be submitted to the distributor or studio.

We also offer Finishing / Fixing Services

If the filmmaker is unable to complete all fixes QC Central can do the work for you. We can fix most issues without any new files being submitted. In some instances, we can use audio stems to help fix issues, but we can also do it from scratch. QCC can go the final mile to have your picture and sound completed. For more information, check out our Movie & Television Post-Production Finishing Services page.

-DRS QC: Used for film restoration. In old films & movies there is often a sizable amount of black and white spots throughout the film. This is called Negative (white spots) or Positive (black spots) film dirt. This occurs from actual dirt, dust, and sometimes hair getting on the physical film before it is transferred to video. A complete (or as near-complete as possible in the given amount of time) list of all film dirt. Used for the DRS process (dirt removal). This process usually has a set time limit, depending on how much DRS work the client wants to do.

Dub / Tech QC: For shows that have already been QC’d and have now been re-exported to a new self-contained Quick Time file. The purpose of the Tech QC is to make sure that no new problems occur in the re-exporting process. Run time is usually 1.5 times the length of the program

M&E (Music & Effects) QC: An M&E audio track contains all audio that is in the full stereo mix except dialogue. The dialogue is removed for the purpose of dubbing the audio stream into other languages at a later time. Often done as part of 100% QC if the program contains Music and Effects Audio Tracks.

Spot QC: Quick spec check, and Check program for 2–3 minutes at the beginning, middle, and end.

In summary, Producing a movie or TV show is a long process that is often worked on by several different people over an extended period of time. An independent QC report is necessary, as Issues are often found that editors or audio engineers miss despite multiple viewings and listening to the material. We provide the final check to ensure Quality Compliance for these projects. Please contact us if you have any other questions about Film & Movie Post Production QC Procedure