There are different types of Quality Control, the most intensive is the 100% QC (or first QC, or Transfer 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 to 2.5 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 channel), Stereo Music and Effects (M&E) (2 Channel) and 5.1 Mix (6 channel) Which would make it a 3 pass QC which for a 90 movie feature would take approximately 8 hour to complete. The steps to 100%QC are as follows.
Note: It is not recommended that you attempt to do your own QC if you have little or no experience. The things I have listed here are only a sample of what is involved. If you miss things that shouldn’t be missed your client will not be happy. I am available for Quality Control Consulting, if you are interested in doing your own.
Step 1. Making sure that the file / tape is the correct project.
a. Matching Bar Codes on Tape label & Case label
b. Making sure the media is the correct standard and format
c. Checking to see if titles, run times & audio configuration are correct and match on tape and label. (if applicable)
d. Checking to make sure that information on slate, matches info on tape and case labels.
e. Making sure file type, timecode, and aspect ratio are the correct versions.
The second step is to check all technical specs of file / tape. The specs are all recorded along with a list of problems in program on the QC Report. During this phase of the process we will be checking the following:
Step 2 Spec. Check
a. Are Channel conditions of tape good all the way through? (If Applicable)
b. Are Luminance, and Chroma levels correct in bars, and do they match program?
c. Are Horizontal Blanking, and Vertical Blanking correct through program? are there any other framing issues, during program?
d. Is VITC present on tape, and does it match Longitudinal Time Code? Is VITC on correct lines and is it consistent all the way through program? (if applicable)
f. Is Run Time Correct?
g. Are audio specs, correct such as Audio data rate, audio bit depth, sampling rate & codec.
h. Is closed captioning present and decoding correctly
i. Does the program comply with all aspects of the deliverable spec sheet provided by the distributor or network? (Often a distributor or network will provide a “spec sheet” which has all the guidelines for exactly how they want the project, these 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 specs.)
The Third step is to Watch the entire program and note any/all problems that occur in program on QC report. We use a rating system from 1 to 3 to determine the severity of problem the ratings are as follows.
1. Minor Problem, no fix needed, Just calling attention to what is there.
2. Marginal. Problem should be fixed before air, if possible and time permitting.
2+. Marginal to Severe. Program is placed on hold for 2+. Fixes Recommended but client(s) to determine whether to fix.
3. Rejected. Project is not suitable for air, and must be fixed or redone.
Step 3. Check program for problems
a. Note film problems (dirt, splices, stretches, streaks, scratches, etc.)
b. Note instances of Video/ Audio levels that are out of spec. (Luminance, Chroma, Blanking, VITC 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 (motion lag, moire, crushed blacks, contaminated blacks, overexposed whites, telecine misfires, framing errors, converion errors, frame blending, pixel errors, and many other potential problems.)
f. Make sure that textless material covers all texted shots in program (if applicable)
Step 4. Complete report, with Pass, Fail, or Hold determination. If program fails or is placed on hold recommendations for how to fix.
Other types of QC
DRS QC: Used for film restoration. A complete (or as near complete as possible in the given amount of time) list of all film dirt. Used for DRS process (dirt removal) This process usually has a set time limit depending on how much DRS work client wants to do.
Dub / Tech QC: For shows that have already been QC’d and have now been dubbed, purpose to make sure that no new problems occurred in dubbing process. Run time is usually 1.5 times the length of 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 dialogue into other languages at a later time.) Often done as part of 100% QC if program contains Music and Effects Audio Tracks.
(usually takes 1.5 times run time)
Spot QC: Quick spec check, and Check program for 2-3 minutes at beginning middle, and end.