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My first broadcast shoot! What settings?

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Vic Noseworthy
My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 4:00:55 pm

Hi, folks.
I usually shoot weddings and real estate videos, but just had a call to shoot a 30-sec TV spot. I use FCP7, and will be shooting with a Canon T3i. What specs should I be aware of for broadcast? I know there are broadcast-safe colors, for example, but I really don't know much about it.
Also, someone once told me that the finished piece needs to be converted to 'Sony XD' format for TV use. Is this correct?
ANY advice you can provide would be very much appreciated!
Thanks,
Vic


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Mark Suszko
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 4:56:21 pm

You can edit in many different formats, then output to the format the station requires. A common format to edit well in FCP is proRes 422. Before you start, however... call your client or the station and ask for the specifications they want for programs aired on their channel.

Assuming they want a file in xdcam format:

Convert the Canon footage to xdcam-HD before you begin the edit.

Under "easy setups" in FCP7, you will find one for Sony XDCAM-HD. Use that for your timeline and your output to tape.

In your video filters is a section called Color Correction. In that sub-section is a filter called "broadcast safe" . Select everything on your timeline and apply that filter to it. That's *supposed* to clamp the brightness and black levels to b within broadcast specs, but it isn't magic and it isn't perfect. To do that job better, you turn on the vector and waveform scopes, use the 3-way color corrector filter, and watch the scopes to see that you are actually within specs. Your "view" settings also have a setting called "range check", that warns you with a little colored checkmark or exclamation point if scenes are too bright or too saturated for TV... you should always have that turned on. Turn on overlays and turn on safe title, while you're setting the Viewer prefs. This guides you to keep graphics positioned in the proper part of the screen.


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Ernie Santella
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:02:04 pm

The better way to use the "Broadcast Safe" filter is to export the entire timeline, re-import as a single file and then add the filer. It works more accurately that way. There's been a lot of posts about doing it that way.

Ernie Santella
Santella Productions Inc.
http://www.santellaproductions.com


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Shane Ross
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:16:57 pm

First off...editing for broadcast is a whole new beast. If you are unfamiliar with delivering for broadcast, either hire an online/finisher to do this, or seek their help personally. Same goes with audio...hire a professional mixer, or get the help of one. Broadcast requires a lot of things to be done very specifically.

As for workflow...I advise against converting to XDCAM. YOu are delivering XDCAM, but it doesn't mean you need to edit in that format. Convert the footage to ProRes...edit that. Then under the FILE menu there is an EXPORT>SONY XDCAM option. This will export an XDCAM 422 MXF file...the type most broadcasters want when they say "we want XDCAM."



But you MUST get the delivery specs from the place you are delivering too. ANd you must adhere to them strictly. Don't know how? Hire someone who does. You might know how to drive a car, and even be a professional limo driver, or cab driver...but this doesn't mean you are ready for the Indy500.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:23:24 pm

Thanks, Shane! I'm a bit antsy, but eager to learn. I'm pretty sure the budget is small, so not sure about enlisting hired help. Your advice is appreciated, for sure!


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:25:16 pm

Thank you, Ernie! I'll bear that in mind, for sure.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:21:01 pm

Thanks so much, Mark. I have contacted the station, and they are sending me the specs. Your advice on workflow will definitely help! Much appreciated.
Vic


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:49:41 pm

Hi, again!
I've received the specs from the station, and it seems the audio specs are the most daunting (the video specs I believe I understand much better!). The audio specs are as follows:
Audio File Format:
Uncompressed, 8 channel audio, 24 bit @ 48kHz, BWF, mapped into an MXF generic container (as per SMPTE ST 382:2007 standard). All audio channels must be contained within 1 MXF (audio) track.
Channel allocation (Channel Stereo Program):
Track 1: Lo
Track 2: Ro
Track 3: U
Track 4: U
Track 5: U
Track 6: U
Track 7: DV
Track 8: DV

The audio specs are confusing. Any clarification would be appreciated!
Thanks so much,
Vic


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Mark Suszko
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:11:38 pm

The audio specs are confusing. Any clarification would be appreciated!

LOmeans Left Only. RO mens right only. They want 2-track stereo with independent left and right on the first two channels, each one a stereo pair but panned all the way to one side or the other.


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Shane Ross
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:12:58 pm

I've onlined dozens of shows...been onlining for years...seen specs from lots of networks. I've never seen audio specs like that. My audio mixer might know what those mean...I sure don't.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Mark Suszko
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:36:21 pm

U might mean "un-used" or "user-specific", stuff like music, foley FX, etc. ?

DV in this context of audio tracks doesn't immediately make any sense to me. But maybe they mean "Descriptive Video", i.e. a voice-over narrator describing what the visuals are, as an aid to the blind.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 17, 2014 at 3:09:53 pm

Thanks, Shane. Now I don't feel so dumb. I've learned so much over the past 4 years, since I got into doing digital video. But, it seems, the broadcasters are intent on making things daunting. I will persevere. Thanks again.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:32:04 pm

Contact the broadcaster(s). Request delivery specifications. If the spot airs only in one market, i.e. locally, the specs can vary quite a bit.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Ernie Santella
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:38:34 pm

Not to get on a rant, but I'm pretty tired of every station wanting different specs. It's insane. I deliver spots all the time to large and small markets and my latest insane conversation was this...

I was checking on Closed-Captioning requirements and they said, "Oh, it doesn't matter, our broadcast server won't show CC anyway". WTF?

So, yeah, if you're sending to a small market, 99% of the time, if it's in the right codec, they'll take it. Sad, but true.

Ernie Santella
Santella Productions Inc.
http://www.santellaproductions.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:29:40 pm

Vic, if you're not in a relationship, I'd like to introduce you to Esther, from just down the thread a ways....

Esther, Meet Vic.

The two of you should get along because you have something in common: you've been assigned projects you are anxious to do well, but clearly are not yet experienced in doing or qualified to do solo. The persons assigning you to this are inept and should not have thrown you into this situation without appropriate practice and training. What I predict is a lot of future drama because it is almost a certain bet you are going to have to do this job over a time or two before it passes the broadcast specs. Hopefully, before the deadline. And it's hardly your fault, since you don't know what the specs are, or how to align the project to them.

I know turning down work is anathema to many in our biz, but it's more honest and fair to say: "I don't now how to do this, but if you want to pay me to learn how to do it on your time, I'll do my best", Than to just say "Sure, no problem". Someone who is signing checks for all this is expecting a competent result for their money. They would be rightly upset that a "student driver" was piloting their broadcast baby, and flying it into a wall.


There is no shame in admitting when you don't know something,and asking for help. We're all here to help you, help each other, because nobody knows it All.

There Is a problem though with "fake it 'til you make it", and charging full price for it. That's not fair to the customer. I'm not saying you should do this for free, either. But you need to practice this stuff more before you get volunteered to do it when money is on the line. There is so much more to doing this job right than we can impart in a few short posts. The smarter play here is to hand off the project to a more experienced person, and shadow them thru the process, asking pesky questions at every step.

I wish you luck, I really do. And I'll help where I can. But you should not be in this position to start with, and for that I mostly blame whoever gave you the assignment and responsibility without the necessary support. I don't blame bad cooks at a burger joint: I blame their trainers.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 17, 2014 at 3:25:43 pm

Hey, Mark.
Thanks for your insight! FYI: I actually wasn't assigned this project; rather, I had a call with a request for a quote. So, it was up to me whether I felt I could deliver the product in the format necessary. The potential client was in a hurry for the final project, and given I am busy with other (non-broadcast) jobs, I decided to decline the work. I did anticipate having to do the job more than once in order to meet the specs, and that isn't something I have time to do right now.
Though, I will definitely be honing my skills/knowledge in the area of broadcast video/audio. Your input here is most helpful.
Having said that, I wonder about video specs, going forward. With everything (or, most everything) going online these days, how will that impact "broadcast specifications" in the future? I really like working to produce online video; specs are far more forgiving, allowing creators/producers more freedom to focus on content. I'm an artist at heart!
And, I agree with the issue of "faking it". It's not something I like to do. However, I think it's necessary to a degree (in any business!) as one gets started; online work is much more forgiving in many regards, and, hence, a little easier to "fake".
I will get there! I just need to go at my own pace. I don't like to do work I don't really understand, so until I have time to really wrap my head around the technical stuff, I'll ease into it, reading and learning on forums like this, and from folks like you.
On that note, thank you very much for your thoughts and advice!
Vic


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Mark Suszko
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:31:23 pm

Ernie, I think the corollary to your rule is: "If they paid a lot of money to the Sales department, making it work is Engineering's problem, not the client's" :-)


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Michael Gissing
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 10:38:28 pm

Apart from the obvious 1 = Left, 2 = Right fpr stereo, none of the other audio specs make any sense to me and I have mixed and delivered over 800 broadcast documentaries. I suspect the U and DV are placeholders for when they get to finish the document.

Typically for a TVC there is only a stereo mix so just ignore the rest and deliver stereo. The hard thing will be the actual specs of level & loudness which you will need a pro to mix to those specs.


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Tom Matthies
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 17, 2014 at 1:56:41 pm

Amen to the "Engineering's problem" comment. We run into this all of the time. If it's not right when we get it, it's our job to make it right and we've jumped through a LOT of hoops over the years to "fix" things that aren't right. It's amazing what kinds of stuff crosses our FTP site sent by people that, through no fault of their own, are just in over their heads. I like to refer to it as "they don't know what they don't know".
The worst thing is that there just aren't that many opportunities for people just entering the production business to learn things such as technical requirements or standards and practices. The solution is usually "what filter or plug-in do I use to fix this?" and the editor often has no clue as to what the filter is actually doing, if there even is one, or why there is a problem in the first place. It's not the fault of the newer editors at all. There just aren't a lot of ways to pick this stuff up anymore. Us "old guys" came up through the ranks, seeing an incredible amount of changes over the years. If we're sharp enough, we keep current on what's going on in the business. But it takes a lot of effort to do this. You do actually do need to pay attention is class. I started out editing by using Quad tape and doing machine to machine cuts on 2-inch tape. I still actively edit and engineer using today's technology. Everyday, in fact. It helps that I've always found this business fascinating over the years. It makes it easier to keep up, but it still takes a lot of time to go to trade shows, read press releases and white papers, sit down and actually learn to "drive" a new piece of gear, pick up tips and actually enjoy doing it.
The old saying, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it" kind of applies today. It's much easier than ever before to turn out a finished project. Every high school kid can do it these days and some of them manage to turn out some pretty incredible stuff. But there is still that underlying, invisible layer of "getting it right" from the technical standpoint and that's the stuff that isn't getting taught in schools and isn't getting picked on the job the way it was in the past. It still applies just as it did in the past. To make up for this lack of basic technical knowledge are those of us old guys that can fix things and also try to pass that knowledge down the line whenever possible. It's working for now but years down the line...who knows.

E=MC2+/-2db


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Dave LaRonde
Re: My first broadcast shoot! What settings?
on Apr 16, 2014 at 10:36:56 pm

Y'know, Ernie, most stations get their national spots by downloading them off a server, or subswcribing to a spot distribution service. I bet if you gave stations spots in the same specs as they already use for their national stuff, you'd be okay.

But yeah, local delivery specs can be pretty darn lax. And inconsistent.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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