FTP spot delivery
Hey station people -
What's the general consensus on delivery of spots or promos via FTP? Are most stations these days equipped to take a file, tag it & then load it into the on-air playback system (assuming it's a server)?
My company is planning to offer some station groups HD promos via FTP, rather than incur the costs of additional satellite feed time. Is it reasonable to expect stations to have this ability, or is it still to early n the technology curve? Any particular system already in place at the majority of stations?
All input welcome.
I think this is a station-by-station type question. Some of the stations I work with are able to do this (I have actually gotten an email from one station in Indianapolis with requirements for doing ftp specifically), many will specify DG system for electronic delivery, while yet other stations specify tape.
I concur with "Perch"; even in the bigger markets, no one standard has yet emerged for FTP. You'll have to poll each customer station individually for a while yet. It would be great if SMPTE or NAB came out with some sort of advisory that harmonized everyone's choices and advanced a common standard.
DG- fastchannel and thenewsmarket.com are two systems I know about. Newsmarket does something I like, in that they take the file format question out of your hands for the most part: you send them whatever is good for you, tape, a sat feed, FTP, and they turn that around for you to fit what each of the stations can take. OTOH, that means you've put the compression of your product into someone else's hands, and a perfectionist may not like that. Also, Newsmarket doesn't make your feed available forever, I think it's something like 2 weeks, then you have to pay rent to keep it up longer. DG I think only sends it once, like a blast-fax or blast-email.
Our strategy for HD distribution of spot, for now, is to have a DVCPRo HD deck and tape but more than that, to get with BluRay for hard-copy delivery of HD spots for clients that don't or won't do FTP. Why I like this is that BD duplicators are way cheaper than HD tape decks, have plenty of room for spot work, the media is cheaper than tape and durable and easy to mail, makes its own stand-alone archive, and most of all, you have a spectrum of play-out options, from a PS-2 game system to a computer BD drive to stand-alone players, something to let everyone see it somehow from bedroom to boardroom to newsroom. I don't see hdv tape as being as viable for a physical format because the dubs are going to be real-time, one at a time, whereas disk dubbers can do many at a time and faster than real-time. For large runs it's no contest. For single-tape runs to one local channel, maybe you can use HDV tape and get away with it, I dunno.
FTP is the best way to go if they can take it, but I think BD is the thing I want for all the clients that can't FTP. Now if Apple could just get their butts in gear and add simple, reliable BD burning/authoring to FCP and DVDSP, I'd say I had the best Christmas ever.
I think I would have to say still too early.. I can give a little on the stations side of the coin. I would say market 75 and up are fully equipped for FTP spots in HD. below 75 is still a gamble. even in the larger markets the lesser stations in the market may not be equipped. It has been my experience the the FTP spots become a bigger problem for the stations at times. here's why.. the original method with sd spots across the satellite usually has the Master control department catching the feed and then your creative services Dept tags and bags the spot(for us it was a once a week task of anywhere from 2 to 15 spots) then it goes to traffic as a tape to return to master control with it's newly appointed in house code. in addition to our station, at times we were the "hub" for the market passing out dubs to the other 4-5 stations.
In the FTP scenario, the creative dept is brought it at the acquisition phase because they are the department with FTP software and knowledge on data files and stuff. then hope the file doesn't monopolize an editor for an hour downloading the spot. you will need to at some point put the spot through the editor and back to tape. My worry would be for a station that isn't really broadcasting HD but up-converting their signal. god only knows how your file will be treated when the station is trying to down-convert , put it to sd tape, the up convert the commercial again.
Needless to say I don't envy you, but i agree that a good standard needs to be agreed upon and i think it still might be early.
Thanks for the feedback.
My company (can't say who) is going to be delivering these spots to a station group (can't say which). We're trying to pin down the group tech guy as we speak. They should all be 720p. We'll either convert our HDV 1080i spots to 720p before posting them on a secure FTP site, or just put up the HDV and let them do the conversion.
Right now, we're fighting with synch when we do the conversion. The converted spots seem to be out by a couple of frames. Not sure why. Something flaky caused by the HDV source perhaps? All that long GOP compression gives me the creeps anyway. Maybe converting formats is too much to ask?
As always, all thoughts welcome. Especially from Mr. Grumpy - er, Mr. Zellin. ;-)