The advent of file-based content storage has changed the face of cinematic editing. The technical aspects have become more versatile and far less time consuming than the old cut and splice editing method. The artistic portion of that task still requires more human attention but, it too, has benefited greatly from digital technology. Editing has advanced exponentially, thanks to automated quality control. For the generation of finished content, editing is a twofold task. First, is the detection and elimination of errors, obsolescence, and excess. Second, are (possible) rearrangements, additions, and then ensuring flow to help tie it all together. The artistry of editing comes in targeted elimination, linear shuffling, additions, creating minor changes to ensure flow and, of course, graphics. Automated quality control helps both the technical and artistic aspects of the editing task.
Quality Control is imperative; having a product rejected due to a bad frame or segment is costly in more ways than one. File-based content storage utilized in conjunction with digital automated quality control has greatly reduced the time requirements of the technical side of the editing task, freeing the editor to be able to spend more time on those technical decisions that require human involvement, such as creativity. The artistic side of editing is also hastened by well-organized files with accurate content, allowing the editor to start sooner and not having to redo anything unnecessarily due to poorly organized content, in addition to the ability to much more quickly execute the desired editing effect.
By setting the criteria for acceptance of the various facets of the base quality/parameters allowed for the content, such as automatically conducting a photosensitive epilepsy check or logging all errors found so that type of mistake can be reduced or eliminated altogether in the future, helps reduce overall editing time. Automated quality control removes those errors that match its preset parameters, as well as flagging and/or filing-away questionable finds for human editing appraisal. Additionally these software systems search for and find what they can be set to detect far quicker than we could hope to match, even checking multiple files at the same time.
Most AQC programs easily enable CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) compliance, looks for compression artifacts, ensures a uniform format, has at least some degree of transcoding ability, checks various segments for length, (while also checking typical format encoding), and close captioning… all can be checked, as well. Then, once the grunt work of editing is done, it’s time for the more entertaining/creative aspects of the job. Graphics and final tweaking are aided by a well-equipped AQC program.
Post-production operations, whether large or small, will have carefully budgeted time and money. The best AQC program possible in a studio’s budget
window can be an immense help in editing, meeting client’s specification, and fulfilling broadcasting standards. Keeping a lid on your time budget is an important parameter of maintaining a smooth workflow. Each job in the studio has its own specific flow that intertwines with all the other tasks at some level and forms the overall pulse or workflow of that broadcasting environment. A quality AQC program allows greater control of overall content, more effective archive manipulation, and use of onsite and/or cloud-based software. Smooth workflow in editing aids overall studio workflow. With today’s digitally enabled file based systems, editing and QC of content has become both more uniform and more flexible.
The Tektronix AQC program CERIFY neatly fills the niche. It performs content analysis for quality control of file based video that can be encoded at varying bit rates and ingested from a wide variety of sources such as SD/HD, VOD, and IPTV. This fully automated CERIFY helps QC teams meet quality and editing standards effectively. Test it out before you broadcast it out with CERIFY AQC. This effective solution can be operated by a single user or be utilized throughout your organization.
Its monitoring runs the gamut from Automated Audio Loudness Normalization, Audio Phase Mismatch, Audio Playtime, Aspect Ratio, AFD detection & change, Audio loss, Buffer Analysis, Black Frame Detection, Clipping, Cadence, Color Format, Chrominance, Correct PID, CableLabs VoD Compliance, Format, Frame Rate, Teletext, Synchronization across Timecode pairs, and Gamut, as well as a score of other things. Number of inputs is server hardware dependent, while outputs include: Web UI, API, E-mail, Action Scripts, PDF/XML/HTML reports. It also has a fistful of other features.
More AQC program examples can be found at a variety of companies, such as from Vidcheck, a leader in the QC field that’s being used by many of the big names in broadcasting. These solutions are easily scalable, easy to operate, and easy to integrate into the workflow. Vidcheck sports a potent quartet of QC programs. Vidchecker-post is a quality budget solution for smaller studios and post production houses, processing one file at a time. It runs at a lower QC volume than Vidchecker – its ‘big brother’ – but has many of its features. Vidchecker is the workhorse; it is nextgen AQC. Better than it was before – better, faster, stronger. Each licensure allows for the simultaneous in-depth checking of 4 files, ensuring quality content. Automatic correction of audio and video files is followed by automatic re-coding. Vidfixer is the next level, including even more correcting and transcoding power all in one product. Vidapps are AQC plugins for non-linear editing suites. It functions during edit prior to rendering.
Beyond its standard AQC function Vidcheck’s programs also include a better answer to video limits that are outside the operator’s set parameters of acceptance. Many video legalizers will simply clamp or trim peak values that fall outside their set of limits. The problem with this, of course, is that it can generate color artifacts by putting the squeeze onto picture contrast ranges; the colors become suffused and generate visual artifacts when re-encoded. Vidcheck’s answer to this is a patented set of algorithms that correctly interpret luma level (for black), chroma (for color errors), and RGB (to overcome gamut/legality issues). The algorithms help analyze the image being inspected and then it corrects to maintain the true image presented.
All these AQC programs, no matter how spiffy, need to be compatible with the other pertinent broadcasting software your studio is using, along with the operating systems; for startups, this basically requires picking all your initial software at once. Studios require computer brains and human brains working together to achieve optimal function. Software determines how your computers think. Typically, a major consideration for a start-up is cost – which is yet another limitation on initial software selection. Once these selections are made, your next software purchase begins the gradual process of piecemeal software enhancement and upgrades (always keeping compatibility in mind) until the studio’s optimum/ideal software is reached. While it’s true that partially compatible programs can sometimes be used together, is it truly worth the risks? If the decision is made to spin the dice and hope for the best then perhaps extra attention should be paid to the selection of the AQC program; ideally, selecting one that can best deal with the most common errors the mismatched software most commonly makes. After the operating system itself, the two most important program choices made will be for Editing and AQC.