Unified Quality Control Workflows: Part 3
In the 3rd and final part of his article on QC, Bruce Devlin concludes that by implementing a unified quality control system that integrates best-in-class automated processes with a human touch, we can achieve new levels of trust and confidence throughout the file creation and distribution processes. This in turn will lead to increased productivity and a significant reduction in the time and costs associated with re-works.
By Bruce Devlin, AmberFin, CTO
In the previous installment of our article on QC, we came to the conclusion that in order to achieve the best possible quality control for file-based media workflows, we need to take the QC central elements of car manufacture automation and integrate them within file-based media workflows to create Unified Quality Control. And this is exactly what we did when we at AmberFin developed iCR UQC, the world’s first Unified Quality Control solution for content ingest and transcoding operations. This unique approach to quality control combines multiple tools for baseband checks during tape ingest, file-based QC after ingest, and overall operator-controlled QC, including annotation and mark-up in one single unified timeline.
The unified timeline gives an accurate and easy to use display of potential issues of any kind such as simple video and audio problems, file wrapper abnormalities, artefact detection, PSE (Photo sensitive Epilepsy) Flash detection, loudness violations and potential content-related editorial issues. QC processes can be implemented at any point in the lifecycle of an asset, using the most appropriate technique. Easy to read reports and a range of graphic displays aid operators easily identify the source, nature and position of an error with a thumbnail of the frame where it occurred.
The addition of UQC to AmberFin’s iCR file-based content ingest and transcoding system means that users can create a high quality file-based HD/SD master, provide unique file conversion to multiple formats and implement appropriate levels of automated and manual quality control, all within a single unified software environment. New levels of trust and confidence in the file/media quality are introduced, freeing up staff to focus on other revenue-generating tasks.
When first launched at IBC 2011, AmberFin’s Unified QC approach featured the seamless integration of two industry-leading tools: Snell’s Hyperion and Digimetric’s Aurora so that all aspects of QC are now integrated within a single unified timeline to give users an instant and highly accurate visual display of potential quality issues throughout the ingest and transcoding process. Human readable reports with time code and thumbnail references can be created and exported, simplifying the decision-making process, while machine readable XML reports can be exported to DAM, MAM and automation systems.
Snell’s Hyperion provides real-time baseband QC on ingest and automatically checks for VTR playback issues and common audio and time code faults. This ensures that users do not spend valuable time capturing hours of material only to find out later that it was faulty. Digimetric’s Aurora provides file-based QC after ingest and checks for common file wrapper anomalies to prevent expensive mistakes. Aurora tools also automatically check for a variety of compliance violations, including container metadata and delivery metrics, thereby reducing the burden on operators.
At NAB 2012, we increased the number of third-party QC systems including vendors such as VidCheck (VidChecker), Tektronix (Cerify) and Metaglue (MXFixer). The provision of wider choice enables users to integrate UQC seamlessly within their existing workflows more easily. Also, the option of integrating multiple third-party systems within UQC empowers the user to compare and contrast measurements from the different systems, increasing overall confidence in the quality of their media files.
Also new at NAB 2012 and incorporating extensive customer feedback from existing UQC users, the latest version of UQC comes with metadata workflows and possesses additional logic which increases the system’s overall efficiency and enhances the user experience. The QC and segmentation workflows are integrated so that both timelines run in parallel on the same screen, which enables very fast and efficient operation, especially sending QC’d and segmented content to a cut and splice engine within iCR.
With this new version of UQC, the operator can perform tasks with two mouse clicks with no need to import or export EDLs. This leads to very fast and efficient workflows where QC is not a means in itself but makes the whole workflow better. These refinements lead to an enhanced user experience with higher levels of trust in media assets for facilities and their customers.
When transcoding files for delivery to a range of applications, AmberFin UQC implements QC before file ingest, after ingest and after transcoding. Once again, all this data is graphically represented on the GUI. UQC enables the operator to rapidly judge if there is a problem in the process of transcoding as well as in the file itself. The benefit of this process is that if the operator identifies a fault in the process of file transcoding, he/she knows what needs correcting in order to rectify the problem. AmberFin UQC can also detect problems in system configuration, as well as file quality. In this respect, it can self correct, saving time and cost downstream.
AmberFin UQC represents a complete implementation of Toyota’s process automation philosophy. It contributes to the process of waste reduction by never doing anything that’s not needed or wasteful; and never knowingly doing anything that it knows is wrong. The system’s elegant GUI adheres to the concept of Andon by displaying every element of the ingest and transcoding process. By combining this with the concept of Jidoka, AmberFin iCR can make the man-machine interface more efficient, resulting in less work requirements on the operator, more efficient work throughout the media facility and the work performed having a greater financial output.