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John Grote, Jr.
Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Oct 28, 2011 at 3:39:07 pm

Good day all,

I am trying to find either on the FCC site or even somewhere else, what exactly are the HD Broadcast Specs for the Networks. The networks in question are ABC, CBS and NBC. I am being told by a local affiliate that I need to have my graphics in a 4x3 title safe. I just want to make sure that I have the correct information. Like I said this is for the big 3 and not cable.

Cheers,

John

J. Grote, Jr.


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John Grote, Jr.
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Oct 28, 2011 at 6:00:35 pm

I want to add to this because they sent me what they were using for standard;
The Digital TV Transition: Production Implications for Advertisers
An ANA White Paper from the Production Management Committee » June 2008
Well this paper was dated June 2008, 7 months prior to the Law going into effect.
OVERVIEW
Television broadcasting is entering a new era, and advertisers need to be prepared now.
• By law, on February 17, 2009, full-power television stations in the United States must
stop transmitting analog signals and begin broadcasting exclusively in a digital format.
• Networks likely will accept commercials in only one format. Advertisers will have to
choose to ship either a high-definition (HD) 16:9 or standard-definition (SD) 4:3 format. Some networks already have this requirement.
• The choice of formats will have financial and creative implications for advertisers.
The digital transition could be the biggest change in the industry since the transition from black-and-white to color television.
The following is intended to provide background and guidance to help advertisers make decisions that are necessary now.

Am I missing something or is this paper outdated by three years?

J. Grote, Jr.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Oct 28, 2011 at 7:49:08 pm

I'd get a copy of the current specs from one (or more) of those companies, that paper is still broadly true but I wouldn't rely on it.

Safe areas seem to vary from job to job. 4:3 safe is for those programmes where they do a 4:3 (standard def) transmission from a 16:9 programme by filling the frame vertically and cutting the edges off the picture, so it's the same in height but much narrower than the normal 16:9 safe area.

[In Europe some of our broadcasters do a half way compromise of losing some of the edges and having narrow black bars top and bottom, giving a 14:9 picture in a letterbox on the 4:3 transmission, so we have a 14:9 safe area as well, but I believe that's not allowed under the FCC regulations.]

My usual facility company (even when I cut on my own kit I use a facility for the final checks and playout) has a safe area overlay on their picture monitor and the first question they ask when I arrive is usually "what safe area do you need?" so they can give me the right one for that job.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Nov 2, 2011 at 1:46:08 pm

I get tired of saying this over and over again, but you have to contact the individual station that you are delivering to. ABC (who wants a D5 master at 720p with 8 channels of audio) is a different delivery spec from NBC or CBS, for example. Every station has a different delivery spec, and every station has a document on what they require. Is this a real pain in the butt to figure out what your delivery has to be - YOU BET IT IS - this is why there are places that just do conform work. It is part of your job to contact each and every station for this information, and YES, your client has to pay for all of this work. No one is doing 12 different types of deliverables for free.

Bob Zelin



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John Grote, Jr.
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Nov 2, 2011 at 5:24:36 pm

My point Bob is where are the industry standards that we all, at one time, had to know and love? As someone who creates and delivers the content and is paying to have it aired on these stations, I should not be beholden to 4 different set of specs, because the networks and stations can't seem to get their head out there behinds. This means 4 different versions for my clients to send out. Seems a little screwed up to me?

There was a Law that went into effect in 2009 about HD and almost 3 years later there is no one leading the charge for some sort of uniformity. Hell some are still asking for a Beta Sp dub as a back up. Yeah that really works when my client has spent a fair amount of money to produce the best ad possible for his budget.

J. Grote, Jr.


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Chris Walsh
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Nov 3, 2011 at 2:24:37 pm

Complete uniformity is unlikely to ever occur. The broadcast world keeps changing, even when stations capital expense budgets and engineering beliefs don't.

There is no incentive (budgetary or otherwise) to standardize. Much safer and easier to keep going with what has worked for them. So that means Beta SP for some "HD stations." Even if their newcasts and network feeds are HD, doesn't mean their ad traffic operations are.

It's actually gotten better than it was five years ago, when networks required separate SD and HD deliveries for spots. The big three also have different standards and practices, so I've delivered spots with different disclaimer for each network. It was not unusual to have 25 different format deliveries for a single ISCI code. You also have to find out what their delivery requirements are today, since they may have changed from last week. Or more likely the ad sales rep is still sending out last year's email delivery spec attachment. Find the operations contact for each delivery. Email, or better yet, get them on the phone. Sometimes the station's traffic person can tell what they really accept, even if it's not on the sheet.

As Bob was pointing out, it really is the nitty gritty work of post. Long after the client and creative directors are having sushi and cocktails, the traffic team will be wrangling the byzantine broadcast specs to deliver the masters for air.

Chris Walsh

http://www.musicfog.com
Silver Spring, MD
Final Cut & AVID MC5
Former Windows User and edit* lover


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John Grote, Jr.
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Nov 3, 2011 at 4:47:36 pm

Well the all the little guys and up to the bigger guys have had to conform to survive, so why haven't the stations? 5 years ago you could have delivered a show to Discovery on Digibeta and supplied them with a DA88. The next year it changed to IMX 8 tracks of audio to do away with the DA88. The year after that HDCam and then HDCam SR. That is for the network you are suppling a show to and then don't care how you get it there just get it to them in the format that they are "paying you to deliver in".

These network stations that I am delivering spots to are being paid by the company I work for to air these spots in the correct HD format. It is not my clients responsibility to make 4 different flavors to supply to the big 4 to be broadcast. Last time I checked, 2009 is when the switch over to HD happened. I have had to update/upgrade my skills to excel in this industry and my clients have had to spend money to upgrade their facilities to move into the HD world. Then why should I or anyone else for that matter, care that the stations need to spend money to upgrade and get their act together?

We used to have standards and I'm not sure why we shouldn't now still have them. Yes technology is ever changing, but National Geographic for example had to put a stop to having people shoot with the newest flavor of camera because the infrastructure isn't capable of supporting the new codecs and most of the times the codecs haven't even been written yet for them to work in any of the systems either AVID, FCP, Quantel, Media 100 or pick your poison.

Seems to me that at some point the stations need to take responsibility for what they should be airing. Stop making excuses for the sales guy, the traffic person or anyone else at the station. They, they need to do their damn job and know what the hell their station needs. That is complete an utter bullshit that they don't take responsibility. And a lot of people let them get away with that. Screw that, as a professional I work to had to do it right the first damn time. My clients pay a good amount of money to have what they produced aired correctly. It is not my problem that the people at the stations are incompetent.

All I'm saying is as the end supplier to the stations, they have some onus to get their acts together and stop putting the responsibility of 25 different versions on the supplier.

J. Grote, Jr.


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Chris Walsh
Re: Network HD Broadcast Delivery
on Nov 3, 2011 at 5:40:13 pm

I feel your pain, but I was just suggesting not to hold your breath waiting for stations to all conform. There are dozens of different legal and acceptable flavors of HD (plus media types). Beyond that, they have different requirements for bars, tone, slate, count-down, and sometimes audio levels.

The only good news (to me), has been that more and more stations accept file delivery instead of tape; either through DG/Fastchannel, servers, ftp sites, or direct file services like Yousendit. That way I don't have to go to a facility to layoff to tape when I don't have the budget.

I wasn't excusing the sales and ops staff -- they just have trouble keeping up sometimes with the "little tech details."

A client who has bought a lot of TV should be familiar with some of these issues. If not, just ask for delivery specs early on in the job, so at least you'll know whether your worst case scenario is 4 versions or 14. And you can plan/budget accordingly.

Chris Walsh

http://www.musicfog.com
Silver Spring, MD
Final Cut & AVID MC5
Former Windows User and edit* lover


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