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BBC Ident Clock

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Terence Tay
BBC Ident Clock
on Sep 24, 2011 at 9:52:48 am

Hi all,

2 questions with regards to BBC's delivery specs which I hope someone can answer here:-

1) Stereo Line Up Tones
It states that stereo tracks must use EBU 1KHz Tones (left ident). I'm assuming this left ident means a silence of 250ms every 3 seconds on the left track?

2) Vision freeze / living hold
Before that, it states that all programmes must fade or cut to silence before intended point. In that case, why do we still need a vision freeze / living hold, unless the fade meant audio fade. Can we do a vision fade instead of freezing the vision?

3) Ident clock: This ident clock that they require seems to be not available on FCP or online. Do we have to do it ourselves?

The clock must provide a clear countdown of at least 20 seconds, including a hand moving in 1 sec steps (ie not smooth motion) around a circular clock face. Clocks with only digital countdown are not acceptable.

That means we need a 1 second hand ticking. Clockwise or anticlockwise (as in counting down, or counting forward to 12 like in news)?

4) BBC Specs: Any comments for those that have dealt with BBC before. Remember the PPMs and things like that. Are they one of the most stringent out there?


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Andrew Rendell
Re: BBC Ident Clock
on Sep 24, 2011 at 5:51:01 pm

Hi, one for me I think... ;-)

1) Yes, that's what it means

2) The fade does refer to the audio. The vision hold is so that they can extend the picture on the screen if, for example, they're doing a voice trail to the next item and it goes over the running time of your programme, without ever going to a black screen. So, no you can't fade the vision to black.

3) They're not fussy about you using their ident clock as long as it conforms to their requirements and the information is clear (I can't see a clock on their website at the moment - it has 30sec at the bottom, going clockwise round to 0sec at the top but cutting to black at -3sec on one side of the screen and space for you to type in the programme details on the other, I'll post a link when I find one). I usually master at a facility, so I tend to use whatever clock the facility has on their server at the time.

4) They're quite stringent on tech levels, so watch out for Black, White, Saturation and Gamut (if in any doubt play out through a legaliser, but try to avoid letting it clip anything substantial as that'll affect the subjective 1 to 5 assessment). Sound levels are very strictly nothing over PPM6 (0 level/PPM4 is -18dbfs in the UK).

I usually have my sound mixed by a dubbing mixer (you can expect a professional sound suite to have PPMs) but when I mix myself I use PPMulator via Audio Hijack Pro on the Mac to see my levels and that hasn't let me down yet.

A Harding PSE check is a very good thing to get done (speak to the facility of your choice about it and include the report when you deliver), but you can sometimes get away without one if there's nothing obviously flashing in your programme.

In my experience they're pretty hot on tech reviews but if you get a failure don't panic, phone the tech manager and talk to them (their name and phone number will be on the rejection slip if that happens), they're generally sympathetic if there's a legitimate reason for something being less than ideal. They might decide to accept after all if it's marginal (e.g., some poor quality archive or internet sourced material for which there isn't a better quality version available) or they might tell you what you need to do. If you're not technical it might be worth getting someone who is to make the call on your behalf - I've done that a few times for producers and production managers who aren't particularly confident about that.

I'd say their attitude is generally "firm but fair". TBH, Channel 4 and ITV can sometimes be more difficult than the BBC to deal with over technical stuff.


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Terence Tay
Re: BBC Ident Clock
on Sep 26, 2011 at 8:36:34 am

Thanks Andrew.

Your reply is clear and easy to understand.

I am currently on Hijack pro and PPM.

Did you remember the thread which an ex-BBC audio enginner says that as long as we keep the dialogue levels between 4-6 PPM (i'm hovering it around 5), we are safe? He also mentioned that those who studied the broadcast audio chain will understand that PPMs are calculated on a different level than dbFS and he has seen transient peaks at -6dbfs or higher.

I'm keeping within the good range of 4-6 PPM, never hitting 6 at all, but my dBFS and True Peak sometimes goes to -8, which according to this ex-BBC audio engineer, is perfectly fine.

I'm so tempted to run the audio one time through Soundtrack Pro to keep it to -10dbFS, just in case.

Any comments on the above?


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Andrew Rendell
Re: BBC Ident Clock
on Sep 24, 2011 at 6:50:55 pm

A regular clock is like this:
http://www.planetmov.com/Stock_Footage_Elements/Vt_Clock.html


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Andrew Rendell
Re: BBC Ident Clock
on Sep 24, 2011 at 6:58:08 pm

Oh and by the way, check which safe title area you're supposed to use. It's still sometimes 14:9 safe for the sake of SD transmission.


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Steve Mackay
Re: BBC Ident Clock
on Mar 28, 2013 at 1:41:17 pm

Hi There,

Where can I get a downloadable Clock Ident for Final Cut Pro which is 720x576 friendly?
Any Ideas?

Smart Cookie


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