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"Tapeless" HD format and delivery

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Mike Healey"Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 29, 2008 at 4:58:25 pm

Hey gang! I'm about to migrate to full HD on the post side. As I make the transition, many clients and agency types have the same questions I have... What "tapeless" delivery method(s) is/are the most popular with stations in your markets? Most non-broadcast facilities and cable MSO's will take uncompressed AVI and MOV files. My main concern is what do we need to offer the broadcasters that do have the capability of importing and airing local HD content. What about exporting HD spots directly to Blu-Ray for distribution?

We're dealing with :30 spots here so there's no long format file exporting going on that would require the purchase of an actual HDCAM or D-5 deck.

In addition to format, what are you charging clients for fulfillment and distribution? Are those of you who are doing spot work charging a fixed rate like $XY for a BetaSP dub or charging based on time to export and burn?

Thanks for your input!

~Mike~

Mike Healey Productions, Inc.

Media Production | Logistics | Fulfillment

http://www.MikeHealeyProductions.com


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Todd TerryRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 29, 2008 at 6:06:35 pm

Hi Mike....

I can't address the HD deliverability question for spots, because we have not had to deal with that yet (although I know it is coming any day now, so I will look forward to other answers you get)....

However, I can tell you what we do as far as charging for standard-def dubs...

About 95% of our work is broadcast commercials, with delivery on BetacamSP. Typically, we will make a commercial spot and the order will include a few dubs, something in the neighborhood of 5-15 dubs. We charge a flat rate of $25 a pop for these. We do not charge suite time for making them, because the actual dubbing time for a :30 is pretty inconsequential.

Here is another bit of legalize that we do: Clients' invoices list this charge as Dubbing Service, not as actual dubs, and all of our tape labels include a tiny fine-print line that says "This videotape remains the property of Fantastic Plastic and must be returned upon request." Of course we never ask for them back... yet about once a year we do receive a big box of tapes from an out-of-state television station full of our old spots. We finally called them and told them that they can just recycle them or dispose of them.

We do this for the obvious reason: so we don't have to charge sales tax on the dub. We are not selling them the tape, we are selling the service of production. One of my colleagues in my city who does charge sales tax on dubs warned us that we would be bit for doing it this way, that it would not be deemed legal, and that we would end up having to charge sales tax... and perhaps pay back taxes on uncollected sales tax from years past. However, we did go through city, county, and state audits a couple of years ago... and in each case the auditor agreed with our system, that we were not required to charge sales tax unless we were actually selling the tape, and they agreeded that we were not (they did, however, stick us for a fair little bit of back taxes on a few zillion bucks worth of equipment bought from out of state vendors through the years.... damn you B&H Photo!).

Keep in mind that the tax laws in your city/county/state may vary... we did it this way under the advice of our CPA.




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Steve WargoRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 30, 2008 at 1:49:59 am

We went through the tax thing ten years ago and you are right on the money. The tape itself is a delivery medium only. If the recipient took your cassette and used it for playback, like they did many years ago, you would be delivering a piece of "tangible property" but all you are delivering is the image and the sound.

There is a company that does digital distribution: DG Fastchannel. They can help you get started.




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Mike HealeyRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 30, 2008 at 2:13:03 am

Thanks!

I have the tax issue in check. The issue I'm addressing here is a "Tapeless" HD delivery format of :30 spots on CD/DVD or Blu-Ray. We don't require the services of DG FastChannel and the like. We already get content from them to tag here and distribute.

We're in the business of taking those national taggable spots and doing the fulfillment and logistics on this end. We're talking about several national spots that are made available for regional markets. We tag 'n bag them for local broadcast and distribute to stations for the client. Some markets may need 1-2 dubs where other markets may need up to 10 or more dubs depending on the media buy in each market. Each spot is unique b/c each has a specific tag, ie. 1234 Market St., Sometown, USA Call 555-1212

Once the spots are tagged they have to be "dubbed" here and distrubuted to stations in each market. Not an issue with tape based SD delivery. With clients now going HD in many larger markets we serve, the need is there for HD fulfillment out our door. With so many stations accepting so many different formats we're trying to nail down the most popular delivery formats and give them only a few options when ordering their customizable spots. We don't want to get in a situation where the clients are wanting us to be able to offer every single HD tape and data delivery method to stations across the country. That would be costly for them and us at this point. Not to mention the web ordering logistics. Many clients who place the orders for taggable spots will have no idea what HD format their local broadcast station will accept or if they even accept HD content for local insertion.

I hope this clears up my point ansd what we're trying to accomplish.

Thanks!

~Mike~


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Mark SuszkoRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 30, 2008 at 2:44:57 pm

Well, I am a big proponent of using BluRay for this, wherever you're not using an FTP type internet relay process. The dubber/printers are cheap and fast, much better than tape, and the Blu disk can stand alone on a shelf as an archive if they don't want to tie up hard drive space. The media is priced at about what we're paying now for betaSp tape stock, but I think it will keep going down in price.

The fact that you're getting mass deployment of the format in consumer hands means that with Blu-capable drives for computers and stand-alone players, you have an end-to-end HD solution that can go from board room to rec room to news room. I think that in the next ten years this is the closest thing we'll have (and may never have again afterwards) to the old betaSp as a "standard" interchange format. The rest of the market space will remain completely fractured with too many competing formats, IMO.

But Blu is a format you can use to inexpensively distribute HD for things like wedding/events production, commercial production, indie film or industrial production, legal/forensic, etc. that has a chance of being "universally" playable, and doesn't rely on internet and hard drives. Sending out spots on Blu Ray, the station needs less than five hundred bucks to make that happen for them, using either a computer BD reading drive to ingest into their in-house play-out system, or a consumer type player, patched into their systems. Compare that to the cost of an HD tape deck, which may or may not be able to play ebery HD format, and the accountants will say Blu makes the most sense.

The only fly in my soup is that you can't burn Blu natively in FCP/ DVDSP yet; if you want to do it today, you have to go buy Encore for your FCP suite, which is patently ridiculous. Apple should be ashamed at this. I am fervently praying Apple and Sony get their (bleep) together in the next year and get that BluRay functionality happening natively in FCP and DVDSP.

But I don't think the rest of the market is going to wait for them to catch up. This is a huge advantage for Adobe and Sony Vegas.



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Tim KolbRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jun 30, 2008 at 4:46:30 pm

Luckily I have some contacts in the digital server manufacturing arena as I actually had to call the manufacturer to see what my local station was outputting because their engineering dept. couldn't tell me...

sigh

Smaller markets will likely remain behind the times in being able to accept digital file delivery. Many of them are using playout systems with components from various manufacturers and few smaller market stations will be moving to HD...they will only be going digital and any local origination will be uprez'd to HD on playout...

National distribution will be a nightmare for the time being...

I have to take HD spots, send them to Beta SP 4:3 letterbox...then the TV station re-digitizes (their system can't add the cue codes to a digital transcoded clip on ingest), and they play it out and pillarbox it (still letterboxed) from SD to HD.

...I might as well shoot the next spot on my RAZR...




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

CPO, Digieffects


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Steve WargoRe: "Tapeless" HD format and delivery
by on Jul 1, 2008 at 4:37:09 am

[Tim Kolb] ".I might as well shoot the next spot on my RAZR."

Can we do that?



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Steve WargoOne more time, Michael...
by on Jul 1, 2008 at 4:35:52 am

DG Fastchannel

http://www.dgfastchannel.com/

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Mike HealeyRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 1, 2008 at 5:15:46 am

Tim/Mark - I feel you guys are spot on with regards to HD spot fulfillment/distribution. Once the bean counters get involved I feel (and hope) they see the benefits of Blu-Ray. I spent most of the day talking with corporate folks in many markets we distribute content to. Seems most of them are scratching their heads wondering the same thing. I heard complaints all morning about national clients wanting to send HD spots when the stations don't even have HD playback capability. Not to mention a way to ingest it. Master control ops in many mid size and even larger markets I spoke with are not gearded up to accept HD content unless it's pulled off the bird and they send it back out.

Steve, with all due resect, I'm afraid you're missing the point. Dub houses don't fool with 3-4 dubs in mid size markets. I've been down that road with them (and others) a long time ago when I was still producing spots for national cable MSO's who required nationwide distibution of spot reels. We're not talking about producing a generic spot for them to dub out to a host of local markets to customize. We get content from folks like them and WE turn around and turnkey the tagging and fulfillment. I appreciate your input as it relates to bulk distribution and quantity but we're in a different situation on a market specific basis that requires each station get a specific "NLE Master" if you will, rather than a "dub" and then insert it in their market. We're basicially on a one to one basis and customize spots for each market. It wouldn't make any sense to use a dub house to do 1:1 or even 1:3 fulfillment. Especially when you consider most of the media buys in these markets are being done via one or two broadcast stations and via cable and/or interconnects.

Again, I mean no disrespect but we've been down this road in the past way before HD formats were a distribution issue and broadcasters just took BetaSP and life was groovy! = )

Forgive me for being blunt but I seemed to have absorbed a lot of frustration from the engineers and master control folks I spoke with today. ha! All the confusion and uncertainty surrounding HD formats and delivery seems to be a lot bigger issue than I thought. Now, we have to try to package all this together and present the findings to the client... The corporate types who just want their spots to be produced and distributed on HD because someone got them all hot and bothered over it and they don't have a clue what they're getting themselves (and the rest of us) into! urgh....

Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to my kids trying to get through to clients. If anyone has an "HD 101" one sheet suitable for client enlightenment, please.....name your price!!!! LOL!

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to rant! ha!

~Mike~


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Michael HendrixRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 1, 2008 at 4:29:02 pm

Mike, your findings are right on. As someone who works in a televison station in a top 30 market I see your problem first hand. Right now, stations are struggling just to air HD.

The variables are to great, not just on tape format, but add the 720p vs. 1080i factor and it makes your head spin.

The way I think it will shake out is the tapeless route. The big push in television is to go tapeless... acquiring, airing and archiving.

Right now we are working on running FlipFactory so that anything edited or that goes through our edit rooms (I am talking commercials) will be exported to a folder in which the software will flip it to the format for air. So the next step I see, is accepting a file from the outside, posting it for the flip factory to flip, and going to air.

Time frame.... who knows... I do think tape is nudging closer and closer to being dead. Especially with tapeless acquisition (P2, Red, etc) being accepted more and more.

Personally, I can't wait until stations will accept data files for air. When that happens, the era of video player/recorder will be 'antique'.



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Mike HealeyRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 3:33:54 am

Michael - Are you using traffic Manager with Flip Factory? Just curious. I did some reading online and Traffic manager sounds wonderful.

As far as tape as a HD delivery option for spot work I just can't see boutiques, post houses and broadcasters trying to justify the expense. Folks I've been talking with are trying to go the same route as us and provide content in the digital domain.

I received a memo from COX corporate this week stating that they will no longer accept spots on tape after Oct. this year PERIOD! They've been using a popular online content delivery site and are going exclusive in just a few months. So, I guess it won't make a difference which decks you have in the rack. You better be able to provide tapeless spots. 90% of my agency client base places media buys with Cox and other major MSO's thoughout the US who will soon be heading in the same direction... Cox is not accepting spots in HD... YET... but I'm told that's coming.

All this brings up yet another issue... What's the standard "dub fee" going to be for digital :30 spots? Most post houses and stations in this region charge a set fee per BetaSP or DV Cam dub. Regardless of the line item and sales tax issues, it's a service that generates revenue and the client pays a fee. I don't know about the rest of you but for us, laying down bars/tone and a :30 spot takes a lot less time going to "tape" then encoding, burning, printing and duplicating a CD/DVD...

~M~

Mike Healey Productions, Inc.

Media Production | Logistics | Fulfillment

http://www.MikeHealeyProductions.com


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Tim KolbRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 2:12:35 pm

The key with all of this becoming really useful will be to publish the file format that each station is using in their playout server so it can be direct transcoded and delivered to that format.

The issue, even with delivering as "digital" is what format? If you deliver a distribution-quality file (highly compressed) and it's not what the venue uses, it gets transcoded and loses quality.



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

CPO, Digieffects


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Michael HendrixRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 4:53:01 pm

Mike, I am not sure what they are us for Traffic although I don't think it is Traffic Manager. Flip Factory is up and running, it is just not integrated with our traffic system so we are not operational.

Interesting memo from COX as I work for a Cox Station. I haven't heard anything about not accepting dubs but I do know that we get a lot of stuff from DG systems.

I still think accepting spots in HD will not be soon as not all Cox stations are HD capable. We have only run a few promos HD internally so still working on that. The sad thing is, in the commercial world, we have been shooting and editing HD for 3 years. I could spit out a HD spot right now from Avid, master control just can't handle it yet.

Todd, I agree with the format deal. I think H.264 will win out as I sit in capital meetings and see alot of new H.264 encoders and decoders showing up for purchase. I think that format will also provide us with a good file delivery as a HD spot encoded in H.264 is very managable.

The key is for the manufacturers to adopt this format and make their systems compatible. I know little to nothing about play-to-air servers so I don't know what options their are but as history has shown, manufacturers tend to stray into their own formats to make their systems proprietary.





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Mike HealeyRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 5:13:37 pm

Michael - Here's a little peak at the sign-up page.

http://spotxpress.coxmedia.com

Here's an except from the memo I received from Cox:

Good Afternoon to All,

We are very excited to introduce Spot Express to our clients. As time progresses, we find innovative methods to improve the way we do business. SpotXPress is a “tapeless” delivery system that allows you to upload your advertising spots online through the SpotXPress website, electronically delivering your content to Cox Media.

Many of you have already begun using it with other companies in other markets and may be familiar with the procedures. It is very easy to use and will be the only form of delivery accepted after Oct 31, 2008. You will find 3 attachments that will explain in detail login procedures, how to use the program as well as the benefits it provides.

Some of the great benefits will be no additional cost for tapes or shipping, decreased time required to get your spot on air and eliminates loss of quality from dubbing.


They have it set up nice. Just register, select your region or multi-region in our case, enter contact info, location where spot needs to be sent, spot info, upload, make any comments and click submit. It gives you a confirmation dialog as well as an e-mail to confirm receipt and successful upload. It also allows us to contact the AE on the account and let them know the spot was uploaded. It's pretty slick!

It looks like the site is administered in house but I was told by one of my other cable contacts that it's third party and they brand it accordingly for each cable MSO. Haven't been able to confirm that yet.

If more and more MSO's and broadcast "groups" would go this direction it sure would make life easy on the distibution end!

Cheers!

~Mike~

Mike Healey Productions, Inc.

Media Production | Logistics | Fulfillment

http://www.MikeHealeyProductions.com


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Michael HendrixRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 5:24:22 pm

Ah, I see, this is for the Cox Cable operation. I work for a ABC affiliate which is under another arm of the vast, Cox Empire.



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Mike HealeyRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 2, 2008 at 5:41:35 pm

Sorry Michael! I guess I should have been specific and said Cox Media. My bad! I just take for granted that folks know Cox as the cable MSO while others know it as the "mother ship." I get tunnel vision at times and forget who owns who and who it effects. HA!

~M~


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Tom SnyderRe: HD & SD digital spot delivery.
by on May 19, 2009 at 10:43:50 am


I'm happy to report that we're doing exactly what you folks are talking about and hoping for.

RapidTransmit.com began TV spot delivery in Feb 09 at prices below the cost of shipping. using H.264 files. We're growing so fast we can barely keep up.

Check us out. RapidTransmit.com

Tom Snyder
President
tsnyder@rapidtransmit.com
954-990-0794



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Steve WargoRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Jul 4, 2008 at 5:15:23 am

[Michael Hendrix] "Personally, I can't wait until stations will accept data files for air. When that happens, the era of video player/recorder will be 'antique'."

On spots and other temporary media, yes. On long form programing, maybe some day but it's a long way off.


There is a phrase that just rattles around in my head: "Hmmm, where did I put that file?"




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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neil cageRe: One more time, Michael...
by on Oct 27, 2009 at 7:52:22 pm

apple pros res file format, accepted by major broadcasters, i send it using digi delivery system, ftp is old school, insecure, and unreliable!


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