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Quality Control (QC) has always been close to our hearts. Media files must always be fit for purpose – when they are not they quickly become toxic and can be highly destructive within any file-based workflow:

The EBU shares our point of view- QC is key. “Broadcasters moving to file-based production facilities have to consider how to use automated Quality Control (QC) systems. Manual quality control is simply not adequate anymore and it does not scale,” so says the EBU.

The EBU recognized QC as an important topic for the media industry in 2010. In 2011 it started an EBU Strategic Program on Quality Control, with the aim to collect requirements, experiences and to create recommendations for broadcasters implementing file-based QC in their facilities.

So What is QC All About? 

In this blog, I questioned whether the broadcast industry really understands what Media Asset Management (MAM) systems are, and here too in QC, I fear that some vendors are muddying the waters. In Quality Control the big clue is in the word “control” and the role played by QC systems must not be confused with Test & Measurement (T&M) or Quality Assurance (QA) systems.

In short, QC requires careful T&M of media parameters as a starting point but then the user needs to analyze the T&M data in order to make decisions (control) before modifying processes and making other decisions to assure quality is maintained throughout a file-based workflow.

The Role of EBU in Bringing Stability to QC 

To do this consistently, we need all the technology vendors to measure and report on these measures in the same way. The EBU QC project has succeeded in defining a set of metrics that can be consistently measured and reported on. The full range of QC criteria has been presented by the EBU as a periodic table which would grace (and fill) any chemistry lab wall.

But the great standardization work does not stop there – within the UK-based Digital Production Partnership (DPP) much more work has been done to identify the optimum number of tests required to prove that a DPP compliant file is indeed, compliant.

The DPP’s aim is to take the completed EBU definitions & create a minimum set of tests & tolerance levels required to deliver a compliant DPP AS-11 file to UK Broadcasters. The timeline for implementation will depend on the outputs of the EBU group, but publication is likely to be during Spring this year.

Over time, the UK’s broadcasters will move away from performing a full QC check on all delivered programs, and rely on a spot check. A spot check, as opposed to full QC, is a technical video and audio check for every program at the start, mid-point, and end. It also includes checks on key metadata such as SOM, duration, identifiers etc.

Production companies will be required to deliver their compliant files along with a valid QC report, as has previously been the case with the PSE report.

Why Not Engage with the EBU Project Online? 

The important thing in all of this work is that the recommendations that are made are based on the largest collective point of view possible. The EBU really appreciate input from as many people and organizations as possible. If you are a broadcaster, an SI, or indeed a QC product provider then why not get involved – go to the EBU’s website and follow the instructions to provide your feedback to this important initiative.

Featured in: Broadcast | DPP | File-Based Workflows | Media Asset Management | Metadata |

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By Bruce Devlin

With 30 years in the industry, Bruce looks after Media Technology for Dalet. An engineer who designed antennas, ASICs, software, algorithms, systems and standards, Bruce is best known for being @MrMXF and you can get his book on Amazon.

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