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21/03/2014

T&M Merges Into QC (Pt. 2)

Inserting editing corrections for files that are rejected or recalled is an issue. Can it be solved soon?
"If you are referring to editor annotations or the production of a timeline of the QC events, that makes the automated QC results easy to take action on in the edit process or automatically in a workflow automation tool," said Carson.
"This already exists, but it is vendor-specific. Not all vendors have this, but in the case of Digimetrics, we support both manual editor interaction (via our Hydra Player annotation feature in the review bar, which allows the editor to jump to specific error locations, as well as modify or insert new events into the report) as well as the automated correction process - such as in our integration with Telestream Vantage, where the Aurora QC events can actually be defined as Vantage variables. These can then be used in a Vantage graph for automated decision making and correction by the Vantage toolset," he added.
Regarding the concept of eyeball reviews prior to submitting an AS-11 file to a broadcaster, Carson said: "This is definitely happening worldwide. We first saw this concept in limited capacity with specific broadcasters in the U.S. (Discovery and Turner), and I think it is a natural evolution with the capability of automated QC tools.
"The ability to define a test plan that is easily interchanged between the broadcaster/channel provider/MSO and the content originator/producer enables faster and trusted interchange, which means that the content populates on all possible distribution paths - linear, adaptive bit rate streaming, progressive download, etc. This makes both parties money quicker, which is really what automated quality control should be enabling," he added. "Rejections cost time, and delay profiting. Better decisions made with automated QC should always lead to higher profit possibilities on the part of the user."

The Interra takes on QC reporting
Penny Westlake is director of sales and channel management EU for Interra Systems Inc, and she has too has attended the EBU QC meetings chaired by Andy Quested.
On the question of T&M vanishing into QC, she said: "Many of the functions of traditional test and measurement are now included in QC systems, certainly in a file based world. The EBU and SMPTE have done a fantastic job, with a very difficult tightrope to walk. It is always possible to find new tests; the hard part is deciding which are necessary and reasonable across a very broad industry."
Does membership of the QC group help in terms of keeping pace with market requirements?
"The development of QC systems is highly detailed and very intensive work. Inevitably it takes some time to develop algorithms that are correct, to make sure that the reporting is friendly, and that the tests have been tried out on a suitable range of material before release into the wild," said Westlake. "Being members of the QC group enables us to work with some of the most expert people in the world."
With the DPP pushing the concept of eyeball reviews prior to submitting an AS-11 file to a broadcaster, is putting the responsibility back onto the producer to sign off what you see as common in the wider world?
"Many producers I know already like to eyeball their production before it goes anywhere, and many post houses are very proud, with good reason, of the technical standards they achieve before a piece of media leaves them," said Westlake. "Having a QC report adds known test levels to the output. If something untoward happens to a file subsequently, the point at which it happened can be verified more easily."
Interra is primarily known in the broadcast and postproduction world for its Baton QC verification products, and the Vega Media Analyzer product used by telcos and labs. It also has a new product called Orion, an enterprise class real-time content monitoring solution. Where does the company sit now?
"QC is becoming more automated, and the work of the EBU, SMPTE, and FIMS is contributing to the future possibilities. Currently we offer content correction for some elements of the QC process, and we expect there to be more automated correction to come," concluded Westlake.

The VidCheck take on traditional T&M
Simon Begent is sales director of Vidcheck, a third member of the EBU QC Group. On the subject of T&M moving into the extended QC process he said: "Traditional T&M using waveform monitors, PPM meters and other separate measurement instruments is going away. File-based QC systems provide a wide range of video and audio tests all run automatically and all in one pass. "It is a necessary progression for handling the explosion of the amount of content and the number different formats that now have to be delivered," he added.  
Has the EBU group identified all the tests that can feasibly be done?
"No list can ever cover all the tests that could be asked for or that could feasibly be done. If you ask 750 post-production houses and broadcasters for their requirements they will come up with 750 different sets of answers," said Begent.
"The list can be reduced by including only those most commonly requested but will never satisfy everyone. The DPP subset of the EBU list is a pragmatic approach to slimming the list to those that are the key requirements for broadcasters."
Has membership of the QC group helped identify new product requirements?
"The main influence on the development of our products is what our customers ask for. We also participate in a number of forums, and particularly groups like the DPP.
"It is making recommendations that will influence the QC requirements for all postproduction houses delivering to UK broadcasters," said Begent. "There are already signs of other countries following the DPP lead."
"The task of the EBU group is more difficult as the requirements across European broadcasters are more diverse with each having their own way of doing things. Getting agreement is more challenging. US broadcasters have their own ATSC recommendations and different regulations and requirements.
"The need to be able to do insert editing is not as important as it once was. Older QC systems just did test and reporting, so the only way of fixing problems was to go back into edit and start the process again. More recent second generation QC systems not only test but also can automatically correct problems eliminating or at least substantially reducing the need, time and expense of going back into edit," he added. "Correction of the majority of issues including video level errors (black levels, chroma, colour gamut) and audio (peak levels, loudness, dial norm), correcting the presence and length of colour bars and black sequences, encoding and format errors can now be done automatically as part of the QC process. File with errors in, and corrected file out."
Begent is a big fan of the DPP eyeball review. He said: "Is it very important that they are completed and signed off by the producer. Auto QC systems are very good at technically checking the integrity of the video and audio content and can check problems like bit rate and GOP structure that humans cannot, but they do not have the contextual perception that only humans can provide. Knowing for example if the red hue on a person’s skin is a technical error or an intentional part of the editorial production."

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