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Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?

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Al BergsteinCosts to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:18:22 am

We are putting together a budget for a production that is likely to eventually go to a cable or tv station. While likely insignificant, (my assumption) our budgeting person wants to take as many variables into account as possible. If we are asked to render out from FCP in ProRes to to some format and deliver on some kind of tape, what is the usually cost for that? A few hundred? A few hours? Is there any shop that specilizes in this kind of thing for broadcast, say in LA? I bring them a hard drive and they convert it to HDV? Or what else might broadcast be using these days?


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walter biscardiRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:39:36 am

[Al Bergstein] "? I bring them a hard drive and they convert it to HDV? Or what else might broadcast be using these days?"

I've never heard of any broadcaster accepting HDV other than maybe local news. Most broadcasters accept HDCAM for a tape delivery. There should be a slew of post houses in LA that will lay your project to tape.

Here we lay our shows to DVCPro HD and then send those tapes off to CaptionMax who create the HDCAM master as part of their closed captioning service.

If we don't need closed captioning, we send our masters down to CineFilm locally here in Atlanta for conversion to HDCAM.

Typical 30 minute HDCAM clone is around $250 including the tape stock.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Mark RaudonisRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 1:45:56 pm

In LA there's "alpha dogs .tv" which has something called the digital service station which is set up to do exactly what you're asking.

For budgeting purposes don't forget that most delivery contracts require many different versions: texted, texless, split trk audio, "clean" audio and "dirty" audio (bleeped). This is a much more time consuming task than just making dubs. Each version is a unique output.

My suggestion is to take whatever you were thinking and multiply it times FIVE!!!! Seriously. You'll thank me later.

Mark



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Al BergsteinRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:03:42 pm

No, I'll thank you both now! Thanks!

Alf


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Shane RossRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:18:12 pm

I too recommend Alpha Dogs for output.

NOTE!!

Due to the Tsunami in Japan, the factory that makes HDCAM and HDCAM SR tapes has been shut down. No new tapes are being made, so existing tapes are going for a premium. The price on them has just about doubled now. So keep that in mind.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Mark SuszkoRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:45:33 pm

Maybe a little off topic, but are you sure the stations need it on tape at all? Many stations now accept programming and spots via FTP upload, which can be much cheaper than mailing out tapes. There are various outfits that will handle FTP distribution on your behalf, from your supplied master. Pathfire and Dg-Fastchannel are just two of these, new ones pop up weekly.


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Craig SeemanRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:56:56 pm

ExtremeReach too.



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Bill DavisRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 11, 2011 at 12:14:40 am

Do NOT waste your time and effort going to tape unless a station SPECIFICALLY tells you they MUST have it.

Virtually NO serious operating stations require tape anymore. Even the smaller cable markets and local stations likely have inexpensive FCP or Avid stations in house producing content for air and NONE OF IT goes to tape before it gets served to the audience.

If you're distributing widely, you should have a media buyer involved (or you'll waste a LOT of money on ad rates that would be a lot lower if you have a knowledgable pro negotiate them) and that media buyer should know precisely what formats each station requires.

If you go through the stations directly, expect them to send you pages of cryptic "spot standards" that they'll tell you you must conform to to make the spots airable. But in the back rooms of their own operations NONE OF THEM are producing to these standards. They're almost always cutting their in-house stuff on the same FCP or Avid systems that we all use - and SOMEBODY on any station's in-house promo creation team knows the encodings you need to use to make your stuff airworthy.

I haven't delivered a physical tape to any broadcaster in at least nine months.

So be VERY cautious before you waste money going from digital to tape - only to force the broadcaster immediately transcode it from tape to digital in order to air it.

BIG waste of effort and time.

YMMV.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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walter biscardiRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 11, 2011 at 1:37:23 pm

[Bill Davis] "Virtually NO serious operating stations require tape anymore."

Really? That's why we have to ship out HDCAM Masters to meet network and station specs these days? I don't know. I always thought folks like PBS, Food Network and others we have shipped to are pretty serious operating stations, but then I could be wrong.


[Bill Davis] "So be VERY cautious before you waste money going from digital to tape - only to force the broadcaster immediately transcode it from tape to digital in order to air it."

I don't thing there are any networks left that broadcast from tape. They ingest the tape and then file the tape away in a library. But they are still requesting HDCAM tape from us.

I would much prefer to simply send them a digital file, but so far, we're not getting that as an option. There are a few out there that are starting to give us digital specs like NBC, but for the most part, it's still a tape world when it comes to delivery.

You MUST go by the technical specifications for each station, you cannot make a blanket statement like what you said above.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Richard HerdRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 13, 2011 at 6:14:06 pm

[walter biscardi] "[Bill Davis] "So be VERY cautious before you waste money going from digital to tape - only to force the broadcaster immediately transcode it from tape to digital in order to air it."

I don't thing there are any networks left that broadcast from tape. They ingest the tape and then file the tape away in a library. But they are still requesting HDCAM tape from us."


A good friend of mine just got a job doing that, in San Jose, CA. No kidding, from 8 PM to 4 AM he puts HDCAM tapes into a deck and then onto a server, which then sends to where they need to go, before the broadcast day begins.


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Emon LizagubRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:57:54 pm

I three recommend Alpha Dogs for this service. Fast turnaround and great service from these guys. And also, take into account the 5x the cost comment above, as I recently had this issue. We had only included 1 betacam tape into the costs, but ended up with 4 different outputs due to each networks demands, and had to recharge the client for the 3 extra outputs we never considered.


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Al BergsteinRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:25:23 pm

Thanks. Good input.

Alf


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Tyler GrutschRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 11, 2011 at 2:58:49 pm

I work as a directorproducer for one of the smallest NBC stations in the country (Helena, MT) and we just started to transition away from taking physical 'dub tapes'. FTP digital upload is our prefered format.


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Al BergsteinRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 11, 2011 at 3:36:13 pm

Thanks for that input.
bill, this is only for budgetary purposes. If we have to do them, at least we'll have it in the budget. Obviously, some channels still require them. But, you are right, likely we won't need to, but...

Alf


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 13, 2011 at 5:42:33 pm

Just echoing the "multiply it by five" rule: even if you're tapeless, you'll find that a lot of stations require things in different ways than others. We just finished a spot for the midwest, sent it to 3 broadcast stations and a cable network, and every single one of them needed something slightly different.

This is one of those things that the client never really knows (or cares) about, and you have to nail it.

----------------------------
PatrickOrtman, Inc.
Los Angeles Digital Agency and Video Production Company


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Bill DavisRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:09:38 am

I don't want anyone to think I'm denying that there are a LOT of stations still "requiring" tape.

I'm just saying that a LOT of them are doing that from INERTIA.

The sales folks pass along that "requirement" to the clients. The clients comply. And that tape gets delivered to someone in the shop who immediately transcodes it back from tape into the same kind of digital file where it started.

My overarching point is that NOBODY's sharing accurate information up and down the line.

This is because the broadcast industry is still built on a SILO mentality. Once upon a time, Engineering set the standards, that got to Sales, and that was the accepted STATION chain, overseen by station management who kicked butt if something didn't get done right. The Station Chain interfaced primarily through Media Buyers in the middle who coordinated what stations needed which formats controlled by the media buy. At the OTHER side of this transactional process - The media buyer coordinated with the Ad Agency, the Agency talked to the Production Team. And there was quality control and accountability built in along the whole chain of command.

Look out there today and what do you see?

The Station Chain is in RUINS. There is NO engineering staff. You're lucky if you have a minimum wage overnight guy feeding your costly antiquated tape into a digitizer. Much more likely the station will want YOU to be responsible for the upload yourself!

On the other side, you may or may NOT have an agency, that agency may or may not have a media buyer. It's just as likely that the "producer" responsible for EVERYTHING on the former Agency side is some youngster with FCP on a laptop.

There is NO chain. There is NO supervision.

And worse, virtually NO standards. I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but on my last few distributions, both the agency and I were informed that it didn't really matter whether we sent HD and SD formatted tapes because they were going to just take my HD file, upload it ONCE then electronically "pillar box" and auto feed it into the cable system to run as that station's SD cable feed! So our carefully prepared HD format spots WOULD BE cropped on some stations and there wasn't anything to be done about it because the whole split off the HD, SD cable signal was walled off from human intervention.

I've heard reports of systems showing the work in letterbox, pillarbox, and even SQUEEZED - all auto broadcast from the same 16x9 HD original.

And I shudder to imagine what my carefully created pictures looked like after getting bounced around the country on digital feeds and re-formatted, squished and codec's into submission.

That's the reality today.

So read the "instructions" and pay for those physical tapes if you like. But behind the scenes, I'm telling you that broadcast is devolving into a "least common denominator" industry. And it's so screwed up that very often nobody in the stations is left to tell anyone that the page of "delivery standards" that specify the type of tape must be submitted — are left over from before the engineering staff was all let go 8 months to a year ago. AND that the kid feeding the station promos into the SAME stream where you're work is going tomorrow is NOT using a tape stage anymore. So why should you?

That's what I've seen out there over the past year.

YMMV.

Good luck.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 14, 2011 at 5:00:40 pm

Bill clearly deals with some of the same stations I do :-)

Everything said is true, but I have found a few holdouts here and there- guys and gals who really care about making our work look as good as it can (including one guy who went out of his way to make sure our HD spot was NOT pillarboxed). These tend to be the "older dog" guys who came up through the ranks, back when there were ranks to come up through.

Just wanna salute the good guys who are still fighting the good fight.

----------------------------
PatrickOrtman, Inc.
Los Angeles Digital Agency and Video Production Company


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Eddie GonzalezRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 19, 2011 at 10:31:50 pm

if I want to output from Avid a final rendered master file to deliver via FTP to stations in USA (those that might accept a file instead of HDCAM-SR or D-5)...what should the specs of that file be?

1) which container (e.g. .MOV, .AVI, .???)
2) which frame rate 59.94 or which ?
3) which resolution (1080p, 720p, or other?)
4) what other specs for that file?
5) CODEC ?

Thanks,
Eddie


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Shane RossRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Jun 20, 2011 at 6:46:15 am

The answer to ALL those questions is...what they ask for. Different stations/networks have different specifications as to what they want. Give them what they want. And we don't know what they want.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Eric MoellerRe: Costs to deliver to TV stations on tape?
by on Aug 4, 2011 at 9:51:56 pm

I normally don't post anything on boards but I read the last post and couldn't resist. I work for Extreme Reach and as an online distribution service, we understand the divide between creative and broadcast operations and try to bridge it as best as possible - but it does ultimately come down to the broadcast ops team winning out because they are ultimately the one's broadcasting. However, our core business as an online distribution service is to know exactly what stations need - most of them DO accept electronic delivery and we deliver the files in the exact format they ask for, so there's no re-formatting involved. On top of that, we ask that post houses upload either AVID, Pro Res or MPEG FILES and then we take care of getting ALL of the stations what they need. No tape needed. No special hardware needed. Just your workstation and an internet connection. We take the guesswork out of it. I'm sorry if this now sounds like an ad itself but - there is a solution to this issue and it's Extreme Reach.”


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