Hello, wise and knowledgeable Adobe community. I used to work as an engineer in broadcast TV back in the day, about 20 years ago. Back then, we handled mostly beta and 3/4 inch analog videotape, though a digital cart machine was installed in my later years. When we would receive tapes from production houses or bring down programs from satellite, everything had bars and tone at the head and each clip had a title slate and countdown. This was so we could align the machines to output the correct color and audio levels.
Now, I produce videos for a governent agency and everything is digital. We've begun producing pieces for release to local news outlets and when I do I'm sure to put all of the normal alignment features at the head of the file and properly slate all content. However, I noticed that media submitted for broadcast from the Governor's press office has none of these features and simply begins right at the video. I questioned my methods, but I also noticed that what they labled as "high resolution television quality" was very pixelated and not HD at all, so I began to question theirs instead.
Since I haven't worked at a TV station in quite a while, my question is: do broadcast media outlets still expect bars, tone, and slates to be included with video files, even if they're digital? I know that when I worked in recording studios, the analog tape machines needed alignment, but the digital machines that soon came on the scene did not. What's the proper way to format a digital video package intended for release to broadcast television outlets?
I want to make sure I'm not dating myself with old methodology, so any insight would be appreciated.
...my question is: do broadcast media outlets still expect bars, tone, and slates to be included with video files, even if they're digital?
Bars & tone, no.
Slates w/ISCI code, yes.
(DG Systems / Extreme Reach)
The encoding and time layout requirements
vary depending on the media distributor.
In the eight years I have been producing and delivering broadcast media
I have never submitted a digital ad with bars & tone.
DG requires 1 sec. black, 5 sec. slate, 2 sec. black, ad, 2 sec black.
Extreme Reach requires 5 sec. slate, 2 sec. black, ad.
The best bet is get the spec sheet from the media distributor.
...media submitted for broadcast from the Governor's press office
Which State's Governor?
It varies... I have done that too.
The official broadcast media distributors are much more strict.
I prefer it that way... they have QC in place based on
their specs, and distributing directly to stations or directly
to cable providers can be hit and miss on format, QC, security etc.
Especially if you are distributing to multiple outlets in multiple markets.
One local station... meh.
Well, the stuff we're doing is being made available via download to pretty much any media outlet in the State that wants to pick it up. Having not been in a TV engineering section in so long, I just have no idea how this material gets handled on that end these days. When I was in it, we used the tone and bars to set audio levels and correct the color, if necessary. The countdown was there to set up pre-roll. Now that everything is digital, I have no idea what the "tape op" needs. I'd also guess many stations are still using tape here and there, so I wonder if I shouldn't keep all of the alignment features as a matter of best practice.
Anyway, just curious to hear what everyone else is doing and I appreciate the responses. Maybe my best bet is to contact a couple of the local stations and ask the question, eh?
Joe, I'm afraid I'm going to have to opt out of the quiz. It probably wouldn't do any harm, but it certainly won't do me any good. I assure you, my work is not at all sexy or political. It's just public service information. Couldn't be more vanilla, I'm afraid.
There is no pre-roll required for cueing tapes any more.
For the most part, there are no more 'tape ops' setting up cart machines.
Instead, 99.999% of network affiliates have a digital media server.
Some smaller stations in podunk markets do still require tape,
but they are very few and far between.
The media distributor manages those dubs from digital file to tape,
and delivers the appropriate formats to the stations in question.
All of the information regarding who needs what tape format is
provided to them by the ad agency in charge of placing the media buy.
Another advantage broadcast media distributors provide is explicit
documentation of delivery and station receipt to the placing agency.
No one is left wondering about whether the ad is properly formatted,
or whether it has been delivered on time to the broadcaster's server.
All I as the producer / editor need to do is upload a single,
properly formatted digital file to the media distributor.
If all you are doing is posting press releases for someone
to either download or ignore, then you can do whatever you
feel most comfortable with.
That sounds about right. When I left the last station I worked for back in 1998, we had just installed a digital LMS (tape based) and had only recently begun using e-mail. The pace of technology since has made me a relative geezer at 44! Thank god I still look so damn good.
Anyway, your last description is accurate - we're just posting the files and alerting news outlets via a press release. No buyers, media managers, or placing agencies, so I guess I'll format for the lowest common denominator. God bless anyone still dubbing to 1" or cueing Beta decks.
You've been very helpful, guys. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. Many thanks!