When the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) recognised quality control (QC) in file-based broadcast workflows as a key topic for the media industry back in 2010 it hit the nail on the head. “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:
Today’s multi-screen, multi-platform media world offers content owners and content aggregators a host of opportunities to develop significant new revenue streams. In many cases, the industry is discovering entirely new business models, adding more value to original high quality content.
With the evolution of file-based workflows this transformation or transcoding process has become more accessible. However, there remains the important issue of quality control – being certain that the quality of each media form is consistent and at a level that the content owner requires.
QC is a financial and business driver
QC is an important part of bringing content into broadcasters’ workflows and archives. Broadcasters industry-wide spend a large proportion of their revenue on acquiring content, but this content cannot be monetized by a broadcaster until it has successfully made it into the business’ workflow. Making QC a part of the ingest and transcoding process reduces the risk of poor quality content being included in the business’ content archive and consequently decreasing the value of that archive.
Is QC automation always more efficient?
The central purpose of any media facility is to capture and store content, re-purpose it according to market demand and then to distribute it across a range of platforms and channels to market. Underlying all these operations is a mission critical requirement – efficiency.
The panacea that media facilities strive for is to harness automation in ways that increase efficiency and profitability throughout the operation, and reducing pressure on staff to implement QC procedures whilst still enabling an appropriate human touch to ensure absolutely that the required quality is being achieved consistently across all forms of media output.
Automating QC lowers the cost of bringing content into the business. The trick is to get the right balance between QC automation and QC reliability so that whether ingesting content from tape or transcoding a file, the QC process gives the opportunity to identify problems in timely manner, thereby saving money.
QC has been available across media ingest operations for some time: the big challenge today is to offer Unified Quality Control (UQC) across all ingest and transcoding operations and to include that into a single operating timeline.
The EBU’s QC Programme
The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) Strategic Programme on Quality Control has achieved a great deal in providing a set of real-life requirements and experiences of QC applications. Through this it seeks to create recommendations for broadcasters implementing file-based QC in their facilities. Adopting the resulting EBU guidelines enables content owners to take a media file and pass it through numerous third-party QC standards and then to collate the results in a meaningful way.
The EBU has created a ‘Periodic Table’ of QC tests, which is a visual representation of the different tests that users might wish to implement. Just as users need a visual representation of the tests, they also need a visual representation of the test results, which is exactly whatAmberFin’s Unified Quality Control (UQC) platform provides.
To enable complete coverage of the EBU Periodic Table of QC tests a user will need more than one QC tool since some specialise in certain areas, but no one QC tool provides every test. AmberFin UQC enables users to select from a broad range of ‘best of breed’ QC systems that provide very specific capabilities and integrate them on a single platform. The results of all the tools are displayed on a single user interface and timeline.
Read about how you can automate QC in an AmberFin White Paper
QC is a key issue: one that broadcasters and media facilities of all types and size need to consider a priority. It can be as complex or as straightforward an issue as you wish to make it. At AmberFin, we have written a White Paper on this issue and I would encourage you to download it, read it and then consider your own QC strategy.