Are you making an Indie feature and planning on distribution? Quality Control and passing with your project. What do I need for my file to pass QC

Are you making an Indie feature and planning on distribution? Quality Control and passing with your project. What do I need for my file to pass QC
Did you ever wonder what QC really means and how it affects you and your project? To start with you film might look great but when the QC people at the distributor or network take a look things can change in an instant. The first thing you need to do when you are working on your project starting in preproduction and finishing in delivery is to make sure you get a set of specifications with as much detail as possible to assure you are capable and prepared to meet or exceed deliverable requirements. Even if you don’t know yet which company, if any, will pick up your project for distribution or for broadcast… you need to be aware of some of the principle issues. I’ve blogged before about specs and deliverables and you can find additional information here in my blogs at Stage32 and on Gearslutz.com. Let’s chat a moment about QC… When you deliver a project to a distributor or broadcast company your project will be check for a number of things entailing both Video and Audio. Here are some things you need to be ready to setup or include in your project delivery. SLATE: in the front of your project you need to provide a slate. A slate is simply a black data card with information concerning your file. It normally runs for about 10 seconds and starts exactly at 00:59:50:00. It includes data such as the project name, and associated information like the production company, or contact for questions. It includes the run time, First frame of action ( FFOA ) and Last frame of action ( LFOA ). It also includes the run time of the project ( normally starting at 01:00:00:00 ( the 1 hour mark ) A side note; if you are delivering in Reels you’ll start each reel at the hour mark. as in reel 1 starts at 01:00:00:00, reel 2 starts at 02:00:00:00, reel 3 starts at 03:00:00:00 and so forth. If you’re delivering as a single file you’ll start the FFOA at 01:00:00:00. there are other pieces of data added to the slate as well. The format of the file, the encoding data ( if any ), codex utilized for examle PRORES 4444 or BLACKMAGIC 10 Bit etc… then the bit depth of the picture the physical format ( Aspect ratio ) of the image 16×9, 1.78:1, 2.35:1 etc. You’ll also provide the frame rate and bit depth of the image and format such as 1080p… You’ll also provide the Two pop data. 2-pop you ask? The two-pop is a visual and audible marker for synchronization. The 2-pop and a tail pop if you provide one, will be a visual SINGLE frame of white, or color bars and a corresponding SINGLE frame of audio. Normally the audio is a 1 Khz tone set at -20db. The two pop is always at 00:59:58:00, 2 seconds before FFOA (start of picture) the tail pop is normally a few frames after the LFOA at the end of the file. The two pop tends to be something everyone wants… the tail pop is more of an optional item. You’ll also provide the audio data if you’ve imbedded audio in the file such as bit depth 24bit, 16, bit sample rate 48Khz, 96Khz, and the format of the audio tracks. LoRo – Left only Right only, LtRt – Left total Right total ( this is an LCRS encoded stereo file ) or any number of 5.1 formats and any encoding of the audio DTS, Dolby Digital, etc. Once the head is set up correctly… normally the SLATE, some black, the 2-pop some black we move into the project itself… FFOA until LFOA and then the tail pop.
Almost all distributors and broadcasters have QC and it starts with the above data and then moves into the project. Within the project QC will look for audio and video issues and conformance to deliverable requirements. In the audio side they will check for audio peaks, audio RMS or average levels, then dialogue levels and average. One of the tests is that your DIALOGUE reads out as an average -24 LEQm level ( LEQm is Db level of the DIALOGUE ONLY audio measured from the beginning of the project to the end of the project using a moving “window” of time. ) They will check for audio pops and clicks and other problems, They’ll check sync, they’ll check to see of every “lip flap” from an actor has dialogue and is properly sunk with picture. DOn’t worry if you are making an artistic decision, and you have a location that doesn’t have dialogue but you see the actor “speaking”… you are allowed some artistic license. They’ll check to assure any encoding is done accurately and properly and they’ll check for peak and to assure you have no digital “overs” ( you never want to hit -0 db on a digital project ) set a hard limiter for -2 or -3 db to be safe. they’ll check to make sure your audio tracks are labeled correctly and the panning is set correctly. On the Video side, they’ll check for Lifted blacks, Chroma peak, Luminance levels, Black levels, Video peaks, Video average level, Blanking and whether or not you’ve imbedded timecode and if so is it accurate. Once these are checked QCV will move on to things like DEAD PIXELS, BLACK FRAMES, FLASH FRAMES, INVERTED FRAMES, Noise on the image, dirt or other issues with the quality of the image. They’ll mark every single location that TEXT is visible. ( you’ll generally need to provide a TEXTLESS ( no text ) version of the project. If you have foreign dialogue in your project ( dialogue other than your native language ) QC will tag every location and require either subtitles or an explanation as to why they are not present. All of these things are JUST the actual file you deliver… so make sure you check these before you deliver… Because it start to cost a lot of money to fix things after the fact. The further into post and delivery the more expensive the repair… Also note that you’ll have to make sure all of this QC is done in hose or by a qualified lab PRIOR to delivery for ALL MEDIA delivered, since the distributor may charge you for rechecking material and any costs they incur in the process…. QC starts in Pre-Production… Check those cameras and make sure they don’t have any dead/stuck pixels and make sure your camera and sound team know what they are doing or it might cost you dearly on delivery or even get your project dropped for a deal. cheer geo