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Compression for Broadcast.

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Daniel Tundis
Compression for Broadcast.
on Mar 8, 2013 at 6:28:15 pm


My production company is currently gearing up to begin shooting a rugged outdoor type reality show. I was curious to know how broadcast companys handle the XDcam format. I have herd that some companys are okay with the compression of this codec, while others are not. I am looking for any advice or literature featuring what kinds of compression are accepted and which ones will be best for broadcast.

The Camera:
Sony F3
Sony FS-100
Sony EX3
Canon 7D

The Canon 7D and GoPro(s) camera are going to be used for flavor and secondary work. Our top three camera will be the F3, FS100 and EX3.

These are all cameras we own in shop, so being able to use them on this kind of a low budget proposal process would really help us save some buck for other places in the production. We are thinking of shopping this finished piece to places like Discovery, PBS and the History Channel.

Thank you in advance,
Dan Tundis
Camera Operator and Editor.

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Michael McIntyre
Re: Compression for Broadcast.
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:26:10 pm

Hey Dan,

Sadly there's no 'catch-all' answer to deliverables. Each network has their own specs and QC. Regarding XDCam, we've only used this for acquisition. For broadcast, I've been asked to deliver ProRes, DVCPROHD and MPEG2 transport streams.

Many network codec 'white papers' and spec sheets are available online. Sorry I can't be of more help but there's no easy answer to what any given network will want.

Best of luck w/ the show!

- Michael McIntyre

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Craig Seeman
Re: Compression for Broadcast.
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:29:19 pm

[Daniel Tundis] "I have herd that some companys are okay with the compression of this codec, while others are not"

You answered your own question. Ask the broadcaster.
Also don't confuse acquisition with deliverables.
Broadcasters have different standards.
If you work for a broadcaster they'd be clear with you.
If you're pitching you've got more to worry about than codec. There's good reason why GoPros and DSLRs are used in some content creation. It's the appropriate camera. They aren't creating delivery codecs though. You have to meet that spec independent of camera.
I think you need to understand context and programing specs.

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Daniel Tundis
Re: Compression for Broadcast.
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:55:21 pm

Thank you both for your quick response.
I am finding that out station by station, I was looking for a format that will cover all bases.

Craig Seeman you seem to have the correct thought, I am more worried about the acquisition of media.

I am trying to ensure that any media we capture on this first outing could possible be incorporated into a later piece.

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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Compression for Broadcast.
on Mar 9, 2013 at 11:22:32 am

The 'format' that covers all bases is HDCAM SR, and none of the cameras you listed have codecs that pass broadcast grade (of the networks you mentioned), without the use of an external recorder (F3, EX3 only).

Of these two, the EX3 fails due to small sensor size. The only broadcast capable camera is the F3, with an external recorder. Take a look at the PMW-200. It might be within budget. Also, the Nikon D4/1DX/1DC (if you need DSLRs).

All said and done, broadcasters often ignore their own specifications, but it would be a mistake for an 'outsider' to assume it might benefit them somehow. Get your gear 'cleared' before you start.

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.

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