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Chet Wesley
broadcast tape standards
on Mar 31, 2008 at 8:32:29 pm

I am trying to do some research for a freind. He is not involved in broadcast (and neither am I, though I am a video editor by profession), but he is involved in a project that may go to boradcast, and he is trying to figure out the most common broadcast format, both for SD and HD. I am trying to help him decide on a purchase.

My research so far suggests that there is not only one standard, but that the most common for SD are Digital Betacam, DVCPRO, and DVCAM, and for HD they are DVCProHD and HDCAM.

For those of you involved in broadcast, what do you most often use?

Thanks
CW


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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards
on Mar 31, 2008 at 11:53:28 pm

this is the answer to your question. You find what delivery format is required by the broadcaster you are delivering to, and buy (or rent) that VTR format. Why would you purchase a DVCPro VTR when the broadcaster will only accept a Digi Beta VTR. There are countless formats that are required by different TV stations - no one owns them all.

Bob Zelin



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Devin Crane
Re: broadcast tape standards
on Apr 1, 2008 at 2:32:03 pm

Although i have talked to only 1 person that didn't accept Beta SP and they are in the Cayman Islands. Of course you cannot purchase a Beta Sp deck new anymore, go figure. The day everyone has an HDCam Deck Sony will stop making it.

I will dance with joy once we send out our last Beta Tape



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Tom Matthies
Re: broadcast tape standards
on Apr 1, 2008 at 6:50:56 pm

In my neck of the woods up here, Beta SP is still the preferred delivery format for commercial content in SD. It's the closest thing to a universal format in this market. Everyone can tale a Beta tape.
Tom



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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards
on Apr 2, 2008 at 1:28:01 am

"everyone" used to be able to take a 1" VTR tape, because everyone owned 1" VTR's. Every ad agency in the US owned only 3/4" VTR's, long after other formats, including DVD were readily available. Gee - what happened to "universal" standard formats. Everyone of my clients owns at least one Beta VTR, but I can assure you that in 5 years, you won't even see Beta VTR's at any facility. So, what's the next "universal" format - if you know the answer to this question, you should buy a lottery ticket, because you are a lucky guy in the know.

Bob Zelin




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Del Holford
Re: broadcast tape standards
on Apr 2, 2008 at 12:54:06 pm

Just to stir the pot a little, South Carolina ETV still has at least one and possibly two of every format for broadcast. I'm not sure the VO-2850 would be considered broadcast but we have a working BVU-800 in our racks (VT13). SCETV still has working quad machines! They occasionally make dubs for us (just across the line in NC) and I've put other PBS members on to them. The reason they have the machines is because the state legislature requires they be able to play everything in their archive library, and that goes back a ways. It's been rumored they've had to machine some of their own replacement parts.

On the delivery side, I think full resolution Quick Time movies (like a 720x486 pixel commercial) are beginning to make an entry. As the technology continues to improve digital delivery on DVD-ROM or perhaps BluRay ROM or whatever improves those technologies will be one option for deliverables. I pulled a 720x486 QT off a website per their instructions and I was able to import that into smoke and finish a promo/spot for air from that. Looked a lot better than BetaSP, although I'm sure SCETV will keep one of those for years to come as well.
:-)

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org


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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 1:31:44 pm

DEL,
I want you shot and hung up as an example. How DARE you tell other PBS people that you still use Quad and 3/4" format ! Didn't you see "the gospel according to PBS", which is more important than God's own words, and makes mere independent producers shake in their boots ! Hey, I don't make this crap up, it's insane nuts at PBS and Discovery that come up with this crap, and then YOU come and confuse the hell out of us down here on earth with your nonsense reply. Someone is wrong, and SOMEONE must die ! Now Del, you and your boss, read this document, and you report back to the group.

SEE BELOW (so keep reading this post below )-
Bob Zelin


Dt: 9/13/07
To: PBS Producers
Fr: David Field, Director, PBS Program Packaging
Re: 2007 Technical Operating Specifications (TOS)

The newest version of the PBS Technical Operating Specifications (TOS)
is now available for download at
http://www.pbs.org/producers/redbook/. The TOS outlines the technical
guidelines for all PBS program submissions. Although these new
guidelines were effective September 1, 2007, PBS will offer a 120-day
grace period for producers who need extra time to adjust budgets and
workflows. Programs submitted after January 1, 2008, will be expected
to meet the new specifications.

Notable changes made in 2005 and continued in 2007 include:

• Elimination of VTR format types C, D2, D3, D5, SP, 3/4" &
HD-D5
• Elimination of SMPTE stereo leader
• Elimination of Actimates signal insertion
• Relaxation of vertical blanking to 480 lines (consistent
with DV and MPEG-2)
• Addition of HDCam
• Addition of language addressing lip-sync and dialog/music
ratio audio issues
• Phased expansion of audio dynamic range and requirement for
dialnorm measurement
• Emphasized requirement for audio channel 4
• An accompanying recommended practice with tips to help
producers remain in compliance with the specifications

Additional changes made in 2007 include:

• Dialog level change to -24 dBFS ±2 dB from -27 dBFS ±2 dB
• Dialnorm value changes from -27 to -24 for HD and from -27
to -31 for SD
• Expanded description of requirements for audio levels
• Change in VITC location
• Clarification of lip sync limits
• Updated Technical Evaluation form
• Changed "RGB" and "Red, Green, Blue" to "GBR" and "Green,
Blue, Red" to reflect current industry practice and style; because GBR
more closely follows the component designations of Y, Pb, Pr and Y,
Cb, Cr. This change does not affect performance




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Del Holford
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 5:57:36 pm

I edited "Ralna English: From My Heart" for PBS distribution (in a mere 70 hours one week). Ralna is a wonderful person and her producer was also great - organized and knew what she wanted. The folks in Arlington are enough to drive anyone crazy. They make cottage industries out of former PBS engineers starting their own companies to do tech evaluations for PBS. If anyone can decipher whatever it is they're saying in the Red Book and technical spec documents this week give me a call. Oh, forget that, it will change next week. And DIALNORM. Digital audio is supposed to go from -96 to 0 (nominally at 48K/24bit). So what's with tone at -20 and DIALNORM at -24 for HD? Give me a break! And why didn't they eliminate D1 from their acceptable list of VTRs?

I feel your pain Bob and I can't answer for those with superior intellect in Arlington. I just make sure my signals for SD are what I learned when I was operating the TR-70C: that cameras match, that black levels aren't crushed and white levels are hard clipped at 105. The color correctors built into smoke and fire are awesome and we actually use the waveform monitors in the edit suites.

We at Charlotte Public Television (the town that brought you UNC's win to put them in the final four and neighbor to Davidson in the north county) have a good relationship with the folks in Columbia, SC, so we do ask the occasional favor and I got to finish/conform a beautiful HD program on "Mansions and Chapels of the Low Country" in exchange for their signal strength van to do field measurements for our HD signal. Just because we're PBS members doesn't mean we understand all the edicts coming down from on high (Arlington being slightly more elevated than the swamps of DC). I mean plain old HD Cam for delivery rather than D5 HD?

On the other hand, if you find yourself with a reel of 2" quad tape and need a place to play it, the fine folks at SCETV in Columbia, SC can play it for you. The folks at Charlotte's CBS affiliate, WBTV, have used our BVU to dub news archives to DVC Pro, so if you need help playing an old 3/4" tape we'll help you. Maybe even Bob. :-}




Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org


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Tom Matthies
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 6:37:37 pm

Yea, I have a couple of Quad machines in storage yet, a pair of Ampex VPR250 D2's in the shop, a working BVU-950 in the rack, a single Sony 3100 is there too. Haven't needed to turn them on for a while but who knows??
Ah, but you still can't beat the sound of a Quad machine put into the play mode and the vacuum guides pull in and you get that sweet CLICK-WHINEZZZZZZ sound. Good times, good times.
You pups don't know what you're missing. We're so spoiled now...
Tom




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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 9:21:49 pm

If you come from Quad, having a BVU-200 3/4" VTR meant you were SPOILED ! With today's P2 flash disks, and media on drives - eeh - these damn kids are ALL spoiled. I think the specs (like PBS Red Book) are made to torture young people that never had to sweat.

Bob Zelin

ps - the Discovery specs are worse.



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Mark Suszko
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 10:21:43 pm

PBS standards are legendary for strictness. I would say they make a great standard to shoot for in general, but the interpretation of some of those standards has at times been a point of friction.

As to what a future standard format might look like, I don't think there will be one any more for aquisition. But for physical media distribution and a shelvable archive, I have high hopes for BluRay now that the wars are over. My logic runs like this:

The members of the Bluray consortium are even now beginning to flood the market with drives and (relatively cheap) stand-alone players and by next year, recorders as well. The Bluray media is already comparable in price to tape formats we're familiar with, and supplier competition to dominate the market is going to put pressure on those prices to drop further. Already any kind of DVD is way cheaper to store and to mail than a tape cassette like a betaSP or digital betacam, etc. If I'm one of the guys with the green eyeshades and you show me an HD tape deck that's $25k and a BluRay deck that's under $1k, and you tell me they both put out essentially the same HD picture, what do you think the purchase decision is going to be? BluRay dubber robots are already in the field and only cost three grand for a Bravo primera version that can kick out a hundred dubs in one or two hours, unattended. This is a very powerful concept. What I'm anxiously awating is for Apple to get it together and offer Bluray on FCP and burner drives for the mac, to catch up with Adobe. They just have to, or they are going to get left behind. I expect, no, I COUNT on an announcement by macworld or next NAB.

The result of this massive Blue invasion is, we'll have a base of compatible players out there in industry and the consumer's home and schools and festivals that can play one common HD format, from bedrooms to boardrooms to breakrooms to broadcast ops rooms. Alternatives like shipping removeable/returnable raid drive modules are non-starters, like old fashioned returnable glass milk bottle delivery, compared to the ultimate familiarity and simplicity of: "Put disk in slot, play video, put on shelf to store". No petabyte raids or sans to feed and tweak. Unless you WANT to feed it into one, of course, then keep the hard copy offsite as backup.

Virtual FTP type delivery is of course an even better deal, and a major wave of the future, IMO, but there will always be cases, particularly in smaller markets, prosumer, indie and industrial, where you need at some point to have the HD program in your hands in a self-archiving, self-shipping format. Blueray durability has been proven with very dramatic demos, (including a belt sander I'm told) we won't know about longevity for a while yet, but I don't think lasting ten years is too wild a bet to make.

By then perhaps a holographic format will have taken over, or quantum foam, or something equally exotic, I can't know. It could be as some producer/directors have claimed, that BluRay is the last physical format we'll see and everything will be virtual in the future. But old fashioned paper books and safety film stock are still with us, and will be for some time yet. Umatic was born about the same time as Sgt. Pepper was released, and some of those decks are still working today. We have one such old soldier creakily cranking out old archival footage from the 80's and 90's that we're dubbing over to SD DVD-R's right now. When those umatic tapes are all converted and shredded, we'll start on the one-inch reels. May take a year or two, we had a lot of tape. The nice thing is that as things get "flattened" to disk, we recover massive amounts of reclaimed shelf space in the library so we can hold more in less volume.

I don't pick Bluray for any reason except that the combination of an affordable home-user base of stand-alone players, as well as affordable updated drives for home and office computers, makes the potential number of playable places so large, it has the best chance of becoming the next "betaSP" of interchange and archival until those other brave new formats come and upset the applecart again. By which time I will be safely retired, I hope:-) Seriously though; on a cost basis, on a basis of widest possible compatibility both in consumer and industrial spheres, I dont see what else looks as good as BluRay right now. I don't say you need to shoot on it, but when you have to deliver on a hardware format, this looks very good to me as an HD "standard you can store", without anything more complicated than a shelf and a sharpie.



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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 2, 2008 at 10:58:07 pm

Mark -
I like your "future insites", but you obviously are not dealing with reality today, which is delivery to television networks, run by 60 year old men, that create stringent standards, and demand delivery on VTR's that cost $100,000. These are not your clients, and you "dream on" about Blu Ray delivery, and future ftp sites, where "everyone" can do it. This is not today, and this is not even 5 years from now.

WHY ? Because people want to MAKE MONEY. And when you say "I have HDCam quality - HDCam is not enough. You need full 4:4:4 SRW HD. And when you make this happen, it will STILL not be good enough - you will need 2K (and 4K) (and 8K) delivery, and these products will cost more than you have to pay for them, and you will not be allowed to "play in the game". And you will say "screw you - blu ray looks great, and this is what my friends want - screw broadcast - I'm going internet transmission with FIOS (for example).

In the mean time, in the REAL WORLD, WE want to make a living. Most stations STILL require Beta or Digi Beta Delivery, and the world is moving to TAPE BASED HD DELIVERY - weather that makes sense or not - the big players in LA DO NOT WANT A $1000 solution NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT IS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND that if the superior solution even costs $250,000,
THEY will pay it, just to keep you from "playing the game", and getting contracts to post "Law and Order" and "CSI". Why - becuase its BIG MONEY,and they want the money, and make sure that you dont' get it. "But it looks just as good" you say - well, there is plenty of HDV, P2, etc. that looks fantastic, but if you READ the PBS and Discovery delivery documents, THEY DONT WANT IT no matter how good it looks (even if their internal producers are using it for their own production).

The process of learing the BROADCAST BUSINESS is learing how to play the game, and how to "get away" with using reasonable priced equipment, while delivering what "they want"- no matter how rediculous it seems.

This whole post thread started because someone wanted to know about Beta - BETA is still the #1 delivery format, even if Sony got rid of it.

Sense has nothing to do with what is happening in real life.

Bob Zelin




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Mark Suszko
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 3, 2008 at 1:15:56 am

Bob, I have 22-plus years of broadcast TV experience, shooting, directing, editing, producing, and writing news, VNR's, commercials and PSA's as well as live and taped teleconferences. I don't have anything Emmy-worthy IMO but have often placed tops in more local broadcast spot competitions, back when I entered them. My little podunk shop is not even a blip to LA or New York, but we regularly feed live satellite interviews from our studios to the Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox and MSNBC, among others. Last week I sent off archival footage to Nightline (they requested BetacamSp though I could have sent them dcvpro25 or mpeg 2 on DVD) and to two other national shows produced out of New York and Chicago. They all still wanted betaSP too.

That's all just by way of introduction, so you know that you don't have to teach me how to suck eggs, as the old expression goes. I cut my teeth editing EIAJ reel to reel, machine to machine, with just a grease pencil, a stopwatch and a pot of coffee, I remember quad tape, and I now cut on Discreet and FCP. I think I still remember how to do a flange-back adjustment. My first camera used for work was so old it had tail fins (okay a heat sink, those TK's ran very hot, but still it was OLD. So old the serial number was in Roman Numerals) I used to hand-hold "Handy-Looky" 79's with no shoulder pad, the weight offset by a bandolier of lead-acid cells and a portable umatic deck on shoulder strap... and I knew how to adjust a Conrac so the bars looked right, without using a scope...(though I DO know how to read a scope and WFM). This week I'm authoring interactive DVD's, building Lightwave animated virtual sets, and testing codecs for web videos.

And I feel I am just beginning to learn this business.

I don't pretend to be smarter or more experienced than anyone else here, but I kind of took a slight offense at your all-caps castigation and verbal beat-down, which is how you came off just now. Some people come off crustier in text than they do in real life, and I want you to know I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here. But maybe you might want to widen your perspective a wee bit, now that I've presented my meager bona-fides as prelude to my opinions.

With half of my clients over the years being broadcast stations and cable company head-ends, I spent last summer polling my customers on their formats. They are all now accepting SD DVD's instead of tape, that only took three years since the previous survey results, and I'm down to making maybe three beta dubs per run of 50 spots. I made my last Type C 0ne-Inch spot reel dub sometime early last year.

Where I agree with you and the general consensus is, station management is first off about the dollar, all tech and operational decisions flow from that. If they could put a wheeled dolly on our one-inch I'm sure they'd sent it out as a field recorder, just because it's already paid for.:-)

Where I don't perfectly align with your perspective is in the area of what you're describing as management's deliberate creating of tech and economic barriers to entry from us "low-level" bottom-feeders. I think this case may be overstated. I don't know what Discovery Channel QC Engineer ran over your dog, but you should lighten up a little bit.

I also wanted to point out you kind of oversimplified your version of my argument regarding adopting BluRay decks over HD tape decks. I didn't imply or declare they were or would be the only way to go, at every level. I did say that they would make a lot of sense for prosumer and small-market broadcast and industrial/government/corporate. Because it works for those "lower levels" as well as consumers, using essentially the exact same platform, this has great potential to be adopted by default as an interchange/archival/physical distribution method that works at every level of the chain. Even by "high end" broadcast.

I predict news and commercial spots will be where this format makes the first broadcast inroads, due to economy. What Discovery and PBS eventually decide, I couldn't say. Except to point out that much of what Discovery and PBS shows can carry footage from cruddy old newsreels, kinescopes, and home movies, all bumped-up to a new final format. So content still allows us to forgive the format it comes on.

And as far as commercials, well, show me a single station manager that would tell an advertiser: "Oh, no, we can't Possibly take your ad buy money, your HD content commercials are on bluray and we only take tape, please take your business to the other channel across town or come back when you have it on HD tape." You can't and you know it. Just a way to say not all format decisions are technology based or standards-derived.

And that's about all I wanted to say about that.

Be well.




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Mike Healey
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 3, 2008 at 5:39:58 am

I've been doing a lot of national fulfillment work tagging spots and shipping them off to networks. The source material is coming as MOV files on DVD and spot delivery is BetaSP.

Recently, I've had two co-op management firms do away with sending out spots on Beta for their local stores to have tagged. They are uploading MOV files to an FTP server and we have to go fetch them. It's a pain in the butt having to download these 800MB MOV files and have edit* import them... but the quality is superior to Beta IMO. Not to mention no more tape sitting on the shelf or waiting for an overnight deilvery. I'm already seeing a major shift in the way spots are distributed.

We still distribute spots on BetaSP as well as DVCPro and MiniDV for smaller markets. And yes, we're starting to get more requests to FTP spots directly to stations and movie theaters.

With all this data up and down I think maybe it's time for me to rethink broadband and nail down something faster! LOL!

~Mike~

Mike Healey Productions, Inc.

Media Production | Logistics | Fulfillment

http://www.MikeHealeyProductions.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: broadcast tape standards (kill Del now !)
on Apr 3, 2008 at 8:28:40 pm

Hi Mark -
replies below as necessary -


I used to hand-hold "Handy-Looky" 79's with no shoulder pad

REPLY - top credibility right there, just for knowing this name !

But maybe you might want to widen your perspective a wee bit, now that I've presented my meager bona-fides as prelude to my opinions.

REPLY - Mark, I know very well that Beta (and Digi Beta) is still the #1 requested delivery format, and I was the first person to ever get AVID "online" (AVR26 and AVR27) on the air in NY at VH-1, and "fooled" HBO NY into accepting D2 on line masters when they were AVID masters dubbed composite onto a D2 rental VTR (Hi Reynold Rossi !). I am trying to stress the insanity of our business, and how one must learn to deal with the ever changing "delivery requirements" that become more and more stringent year after year. No matter what I tell my clients to get, it's never enough, there is always "the better, more expensive machine" that is required. I am just trying to force my stress upon this group (if I have to suffer, you have to suffer too).



Where I don't perfectly align with your perspective is in the area of what you're describing as management's deliberate creating of tech and economic barriers to entry from us "low-level" bottom-feeders. I think this case may be overstated. I don't know what Discovery Channel QC Engineer ran over your dog, but you should lighten up a little bit.

REPLY - I don't know how you can say this, if you have had to deal with "out of town" delivery requirements. Didn't you ever have tapes rejected because you didn't have access to a Dolby LM-100 meter, even thought your audio is 100% perfectly fine ? Didn't you ever have a producer "shudder in fear" because you weren't working at full 4:4:4, even though you know that you could deliver a Beta, with no fear of rejection ? I can't believe that you have been doing this for so long, and have never had tapes rejected for assorted technical reasons. Back before AVID, and todays standards, it was COMMON PRACTICE for larger houses and networks to reject linear masters (from 1", etc) for wide blanking, SCH errors, etc. And you would stand there, in front of a scope, looking for that ONE SCENE that was at 11.4 uSec, when everything else was at 10.8uSec - and you wind up saying WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE LOOKING AT THESE TAPES !!!!



I also wanted to point out you kind of oversimplified your version of my argument regarding adopting BluRay decks over HD tape decks. I didn't imply or declare they were or would be the only way to go, at every level. I did say that they would make a lot of sense for prosumer and small-market broadcast and industrial/government/corporate. Because it works for those "lower levels" as well as consumers, using essentially the exact same platform, this has great potential to be adopted by default as an interchange/archival/physical distribution method that works at every level of the chain. Even by "high end" broadcast.

REPLY - I don't disagree here at all. Mastering to Blu Ray is in the official Panasonic document on P2 workflow. Look Mark, most people are nice people, and most stations accept whatever you send them. I have been dealing with assorted stations (both cable and network) for many years, and most people are nice EVEN WHEN THERE ARE PROBLEMS. But there is this "crazy zone" (think WGBH Boston) that will torture you. And it is these few locations that make life miserable for everyone, because NOTHING is good enough. There are tons of HDW-F500's and HDW-M2000's in LA, but recently, many feel that you MUST master with a SRW-5500, or it's simply "not good enough" - WHY MARK - what do you do with these people ?


This started off as a simple post - "what should I deliver", and I tried to turn it into this insane rant, because in my opinion, it was more important to discuss the tyrany of the few, rather than the correct answer, which (as you stated) was "deliver a Beta VTR, and you will be fine".

Bob Zelin






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