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Sinnymaker Seg
job tape
on Jan 27, 2008 at 11:41:01 pm

This is a pretty basic question but when stateside tv stations ask for a tape submission of your work what format are they looking for?

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Mark Suszko
Re: job tape
on Jan 28, 2008 at 4:11:09 am

Local TV stations will take whatever format you have for news if the footage is exclusive and hot, like a plane crash or some horrible thing. Though they do have everyday preferences, you can find out by calling the engineering or traffic departments at each station to ask what they prefer.

More common formats vary depending on the part of the country but the old grandad format that refuses to die, BetacamSP still works in many places, just because the Big Stick outside goes digital next year does not mean the amortized analog stuff in the plant all magically gets replaced right away. Stations tend to hold on to gear and formats until the very last possible second, in order to avoid costs.

DVCPro or DVCAM will work, consumer DV plays back in either of those two I just mentioned and they play back each other's Dv25 formats, so if that's, again, you know, something newsworthy that you shot, they'll break out the converter cables and transfer it.

HDV and ADHVC-XYZ formats, IMO have not made a huge penetration in anything but the very smallest cheapest stations yet: you'll likely have to bring a deck to play it out.

Surprisingly, many if not all stations now will take it on DVD, even if they don't advertise that.

Worst case, they'll play your DVD thru a 30-dollar Walmart special into their server or in-house system and then use it however they want. Better case; they'd rip the files instead of suffer more A/D conversion losses, but that depends on the size and budget of the market and how much time they want to spend diddling with mpeg file re-authoring. If you have the time to save the video as data on a data DVD, it would be nice to offer them the choice of either.

My sense of the market is that digibeta is kind of losing steam as expensive and harder to get and is more for commercials, movies, and actual pre-recorded programming on cable and broadcast networks than news.

An up and coming method is to forget format as it were, and subscribe to a service like the newsmarket or pathfire to take your video in any format and convert it to a pushed stream that goes to newsrooms and engineering rooms at the stations everywhere at once, for them to use or not as they see fit. Sort of like a turbo version of you tube but for broadcasters. These services charge the senders but provide the stations with free viewer stations and servers. I see a lot of VNR business going this way.

And you can still blast the nation coast to coast, live, using a satellite window: bought in 15-minute increments, the stations can pull down your message for under a grand. You have to first notify them with faxes, calls, and emails, so there's some organizing, scheduling and legwork involved. This method is very useful and popular if you have a celeb or a technical expert in high demand for a breaking story, to be interviewed by news stations over a large area: they take turns calling in questions to a central studio where your guy sits in front of a camera and takes the calls via earpiece. Your one person can do custom one on ones with many stations in just 15 to 30 minutes.

Choice of distribution channel is very dependent on your budget, what you wanna send, how long it is, when, and who to.
If your question is, "what format should I use if I want to work as a news stringer?" I think you should survey your market area and copy whatever they use.

"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"

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Michael Hancock
Re: job tape
on Jan 28, 2008 at 5:27:28 pm

If you're talking about sending them your Reel to land a job, send it on VHS unless they ask for a Beta or DVD. You'd be surprised how many news directors still don't have DVD players in the their office, and if your disc won't play for any reason at all--they'll toss it in the trash and call the next guy. VHS always plays, even though the quality stinks.


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