European broadcasters are considering moving the main quality control (QC) process, including audio checking, to post-production facilities instead of the point of transmission. This was discussed at an EBU conference in Geneva during November and will be considered by national broadcasters and standards organisations. The Quality Control Workshop has been organised by the EBU Strategic Programme on QC, led by Andy Quested, head of technology at the BBC, Reinhard Knör of research institution IRT and Roman Meszmer from Austrian national broadcaster ORF. Among contributors to the Workshop were Jane Fielder, creative director of Red Bee Media, and Bruce Devlin, chief technology officer of QC program developer Amberfin. An EBU spokesman said that although there was nothing "specific" was discussed about audio QC, the checks defined by the Workshop do include sound parameters, such as active channels, channel IDs and loudness level. The spokesman added there have been some requests for a focus on audio and this might be included in a future event. Among the conclusions of the Workshop were that file-based QC is "the key". The sessions also produced a Top 20 of critical points to check during the QC, which have been collected on a series of cards (pictured) describing areas such as format. Among potential audio faults highlighted, in addition to loudness, were audio coding and clipping. In the UK the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) is looking at the recommendations as a possible part of its standards for the production and distribution of programmes. In a statement the DPP said it "hopes to achieve industry-wide collaboration with broadcasters and QC tool vendors, industry-wide standards for QC reporting, tests and terminology and best practice sharing among broadcasters" and aims to introduce relevant guidelines in 2013. Neil Hatton, chief executive of London post house Azimuth and the UK Screen representative on the DPP Technical Standards Committee, sees the proposals as a "good move" but warns, "We will have to be a little bit careful to see where the ultimate responsibility and liability lies, either with the post facilities or the broadcasters." tech.ebu.ch/groups/qc
Post-houses consider being the QC front end
Quality control tests in broadcast programmes are being streamlined and standardised by the EBU. The UK Digital Production Partnership is recommending that the bulk of testing and measurement be done by post houses. Consultant Neil Hatton discusses what this might mean for facilities and highlights the main areas of sound QC.