We could use some help and hand holding.
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit serving wounded warriors and want to send out PSA's to TV stations to raise public awareness of the plight of wounded vets.
A video producer is creating the content for us but we need to learn about and handle duplication and distribution. We don't even know what format most stations use. It would also be good to learn about where to find some used or donated duplication equipment.
Mostly, we don't know what we're doing and could use some guidance.
On behalf of the best and bravest, thanks!
Mark Draper, Ph.D.
most stations still use Sony Betacam for delivery. For a PSA, most stations will still accept Sony Beta, even if their delivery requirements are different (like DVCPro), and will accomodate you.
Your video producer surely has Beta capability if he is a professional producer. If your producer is creating everything in DV format, many stations will have issue airing this, no matter what tape format you deliver to them. So in my opionion, if your video producer has access to a Beta VTR to master the project, you are ok.
If you are a non profit, and can provide a "tax write off" to an existing duplication facility, and can supply the tape stock, most companies would be happy to do a "one pass" for you for your cause.
This is my smart ass answer -
Harris Broadcast is the #1 contractor that supplies the military and is awarded government contracts. May I suggest that you contact Harris Broadcast
and ask them how you can get your PSA duplicated, since they get multi billion dollar contracts from the military to do all of this video work. I don't see why they should not be willing to help you in your noble cause.
We're looking at this differently in my shop. For Standard Def dubs, we used to ship everything betaSp, one-inch spot reels, and Umatic 3/4 inch, according to station preference... and we still get the odd occasional order for a betaSp dub, but after a phone survey of stations that have always taken our PSA product, we have gone to shipping out DVD-R's instead. WAY cheaper for postage as well as the media itself, and faster/better/cheaper dubs using DVD duplication machines/printers like the Bravo Primera Pro. BetaSP decks are no longer being made, stations are phasing them out as they become too expensive or difficult to maintain. Dvd blanks are a fraction the cost of Beta tape, the postage is much lower too. And it takes up much less space for blank media as well as the infrastructure. Dubs can be made by unskilled help because there is no analog signal chain to monitor and tweak, we're just burning the same disk image over and over.
DVD content can be ripped/copied losslessly onto playout servers, or, even if played out of a consumer player, they will not show the same kinds of drop-outs as cantankerous old analog tape gear produces, so you tend to get a cleaner product even thru the analog signal chain. All the way around, DVD has more plusses going for it than betaSp dubs, IMO
But even DVD's are not the perfect or only answer.
There are an increasing number of FTP services that will let you upload programs and PSA's directly to the TV stations' own playout servers, losslessly. You upload it once to the service, all the subscribing stations get it fed to them automatically in a formet they can already use. You get back a readout of who took the feed for tracking purposes, nice to know.
For major market stations, I think this is the wave of the future, already being used in the present. I think our distribution of spots will all be via DVD-R, and an FTP service or BluRay disk for HD, depending what the station prefers. Google up services like Pathfire or TheNEwsmarket for more info.
An eye opening response. Many thanks. I know this industry is in rapid flux and I appreciate the update.
A small addendum, I already discussed this offline with the Doc, but thought other folks consulting this thread in his position could also use the tip, and here it is:
Pretty much every state has it's own Association of Broadcasters. Sort of an in-state version of NAB. I'll speak about my own state of Illinois but I figure most of the other states do things the same general way.
The Illinois Broadcasters Association likes to help out charity causes, and sometimes will take a PSA project under their wing and sponsor it's statewide distribution in extra-good time slots. It is like getting a good statewide paid ad placement in all of the state's major markets for nothing. Typically I see them done for subjects like highway safety campaigns, medical charities like the Red Cross, maybe for disaster relief. I don't know their criteria.
I do know they have certain rules for such pro-bono distributions and they include such things as, you can't be doing any paid placements of the same spot/campaign while the IBA is airing the spots for you for free. That's obvious when you think about it. They'll also want a voice tag and a lower third or logo bug super on the spot that identifies the spot as "brought to you by the Illinois Broadcasters Association and this station" or words to that effect. They also do the same thing for radio spots, and if you're smart, you leveraged or adapted an audio-only version of your spot to play on the radio while the TV campaign is going.
They have limits, they have rules. I don't know all of them. Go to the source to get all the facts, find your own state's version of a broadcaster's association and see if they are able and willing to help you.
The second tip I offer is, most states have a government media department like the one I work in. Sometimes state agencies and constitutional offices find it economical and prudent to piggy-back on an existing PSA campaign that is in line with some program or policy they are advancing. In such a case, the state might chip in the dubbing and distribution of your spot in exchange for adding in some of their own content and etc..... particularly for education, public health or safety or law enforcement campaigns, you should look into finding such synergies with a PSA you make that serves that area of interest.
Those are excellent suggestions. Hopefully many readers will take heed.
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org
Great thread and I concur with Mark's comments re FTP uploads being the way of the future. Just read a very interesting article yesterday on this very dilemma. I hope it's OK to post the link & some excerpts here:
Stations Need to Focus on Local HD Ads
"In some markets, advertisers are forced to deliver the same spot to different stations on Sony's analog Betacam or digital Betacam or HDCAM, or on Panasonic's standard-definition DVC Pro or on D5. While Sony's 1080i HDCAM appears to be the emerging winner in the HD tape format wars, who cares? Tape itself appears headed for extinction, as manufacturers promote solid state storage solutions."
"Dubbing and delivery costs your clients money, especially those that need to update their spots. And just like stations, ad agencies and production companies are reluctant to blow $75K on a single-format HD tape machine that's already half-obsolete."
"This is especially irksome because trafficking tapes is already a pointless ritual. Most stations have been running commercials off their video file servers for years. Even stations not ready to broadcast in HD, can import a commercial from digital data, whether delivered electronically or on a DVD."