Major digital service providers, known as Select Partners, process videos through a rigorous quality check before making the product available for sale and/or viewing. Failure to comply with these rules could mean rejection from Select Partners such as iTunes, VEVO, Microsoft, and other digital broadcasters. For this reason, the following rules have been outlined and elaborated. The rules are subject to change without prior notice.
Attributes are added to the asset management system’s Quality Check Notes (QC Notes) during registration. This enables the system to mange “gates” or “flags” upon ordering the video for delivery to a partner. Depending on the partner, and other factors in the downstream ordering system, a given attribute may block some orders. To be absolutely sure a video can be ordered trouble free, it should be cleared of all the below attributes, if possible.
QUALITY RELATED ATTRIBUTE (SPQ)
This section covers the overall technical and quality check process applied to all video ingested by Global Media Production. While some overall quality issues may not impact assignment of the Select Partner Quality (SPQ) compliance attribute in AOMA, other quality issues considered “gross errors” will define the withholding of the SPQ attribute. Categories of these “gross errors” are described below.
Video Errors: Glitches, Compression Artifacts, Dropouts, Telecine Issues, Macroblocking (pixelation), Incorrect Aspect Ratio, Inactive Pixels (figures 1 through 4)
Often during encoding, one or more frames may be become corrupt. This can be in the form of an obvious distortion, or a subtle color artifact. It is important to quality control the asset before sending it for supply chain registration.
Glitched frames (figures 5 & 6), compression artifacts, macroblocking and telecine issues such as “ghosted frames” are known to cause major delays in getting making videos available to Select Partners due to the time it takes to re-source the asset.
The aspect ratio (figures 7 & 8) of the video must be correct such that known objects appear as intended, for example, round objects are truly round and not ovals. Notice the stretched moon in the example shown below left. If this issue stems from a creative decision, such as in “stretched versions”, it must be made known before delivery to a Select Partner.
Inactive pixel (figure 9) errors are often a conform issue when using footage from multiple cameras or due to older broadcast technology “overscan” issues, or mattes used for letterboxing. The asset system’s conversion architecture automatically crops inactive pixels before delivery. However, it is important to make sure the active pixel area stays consistent throughout the video. Shifting or resizing the active pixel area makes it difficult to crop or in some cases forces the system to crop too much out of a particular scene, potentially ruining the desired look (i.e. cutting off the head of the artist). If this type of border error is visible on the video file throughout the entire program during the post-registration lock down procedure it will be considered non-compliant.
Further, creative graphics inside or straddling in the black letterbox content and/or graphics may not be acceptable to select partners. This applies only to black pixel style letterbox content (figure 10), any color other than black is acceptable (figure 11). Please contact your Account Management representative for specific details on partner requirements.
Compressed or “lossy” video assets: H264, aac audio or video etc.
Select Partners request that delivered assets be natively high quality. Compressed formats or up-ressed assets can result in poor quality transcodes on AOMA output and at the partner. Any non-compliant assets received as such will not have the SPQ attribute applied in system QC Notes. For more info on lossy formats, see Addendum Lossy Formats.
Audio Levels: Audio levels should be at, but not peaking over, 0 dbfs for mastered audio programs. This rule may exclude interviews or in camera recoding programs. If audio levels are deemed too low they may be adjusted up to between -3 to -1 dbfs max peak, and the engineer will advise on the request ticket.
Audio Errors: Audible edits, audio overs, audio dropouts, distortion, mono audio, phase imaging
In the layback stage of the final edit completion, audio issues may have been overlooked. Audio issues with the source file like digital overs (square wave on the audio timeline, often sounding like distortion), digital pops (rapid, percussive peaks audible in the file playback) and audio dropouts (lack of visual audio waveform on the audio timeline, often sounds like a “hiccup” or stutter in the audio playback) are considered gross errors. Audio issues can also include distortion or digital noise. Peak distortion will be flagged on the request ticket as a QC error for approval or replacement.
Mono audio is not acceptable unless the content was produced before 1986 or in the event of EPK single microphone interview type footage where stereo sound is not available. For more details, see Addendum Mono Audio.
A/V sync issues are when the image and sound do not properly align. This type of issue will cause a video product to be rejected.
CONTENT REALTED ATTRIBUTES
This section covers creative content related attributes that impact deliveries to some select partners. As part of the QC process, Global Media Production flags these issues with the specified attribute as noted below. Some of these content related attributes may cause a delay or halt in the delivery process via the current ordering system due to partner requirements. Below are definitions for these specific attributes based on select partner requirements and specifications.
Lower Thirds (figure 12), defined here as traditional broadcast on-screen graphics (aka MTV-style credits) containing Artist, Title, Director or Label credits, etc. overlaid on the video content usually in the lower thirds area of the active screen are not acceptable for select partners. For deliveries to DSPs this type of product data should be provided as metadata delivered with the video as per the partner specifications to be incorporated into the DSPs’ site/player where available. This type of text is difficult to encode and the small text appears distorted or will not resolve legibly on some players and/or devices like the iPod, for example. A short form video should be requested as a “clean feed” or “textless” version for AOMA ingestion. However, the use of creative title cards and other types of lower thirds graphics are allowed as this is a creative decision during the production of the video and is part of the final product (figure 13). See the following comparative examples.
Creative bordering (figures 14 & 15), including pillar bars and creative bordering, may be subject to rejection if this type of bordering utilizes black pixels only as part of the creative decision. The Creative Border attribute will be applied if the pillar box and/or creative border utilizing black pixels only is visible on the file throughout the entire length of the total program.
A widescreen video with pillar bars/ curtains is not acceptable, as this creates a “box within a box” effect on players and devices (i.e. it does not fill the entire device screen, see Figure 14, following). Pillar box and creative bordering with BLACK pixels only will have the attribute applied, if the creative bordering or pillar box is any color other than black, it is considered a creative decision and the colored border should be viewable (i.e. not cropped) in the output file for a select partner (figure 15). If this effect is only present in a few scenes, it will not be subject to this attribute.
Some creative bordering styles, such as “film gate look”, also known as vignetting, used to simulate a vintage camera look (figures 16 & 17) are subject to rejection by select partners. Please contact your account management representative for specific details on partner requirements.
Cross Marketing and Up-sell (figures 18, 19, 20 & 21) material such as bumper cards, dead cards in the active feature content are not accepted by select partners. This includes but is not limited to any logos and/or graphics that attempt to direct a consumer to a website or advertise indirectly related products or services, as well as promotional trailers for films, videos, or albums. This includes logos, “bugs” and bumper card content (but not limited to) the below examples.
URL (figures 22 & 23) addresses in the active feature content are not accepted at select partners. This includes (but not limited to) the following examples:
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Official/Unofficial Band Pages, Video Production Companies, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify,
or any other known broadcaster or partner.
Release Date (figures 24 & 25) information in the active feature content is not accepted at select partners. This includes (but not limited to) the following:
Album date(s), In-Store date(s), Download date(s), Premier date(s) within a suggested time frame such as “forthcoming” “soon” “now” or a recognized event or range such as “this summer” “this holiday season”.
Some select partners may not accept Pseudo Videos (figures 26 & 27). A pseudo video is currently defined as a video comprised of a static still image or graphic that only uses fades or cuts as a means of transition. It cannot zoom, pan, pan-scan or include any animated or motion graphic elements. Please contact your account management representative for specific details on partner requirements.