Televison and Film Video Quality Control Process

Updated March 17, 2022 by Rick Recco

Rick Recco is the owner of L.A. Post, He started the company in 2007, and has over 31 years in the Broadcast Television, Film and Post Production Industries.


There are many aspects to the process of performing a Video & Audio Quality Control Report for a television program or Movie / Film. These are mostly the same whether the project is being done as a digital file, usually a self contained quicktime file, such as Pro Res 4:2:2 or 4:4:4:4 or if it exists as a broadcast tape format. Currently most work is done in the digital realm in either 4K (4096 X 2160,) UHD (3840 X 2160,) 2K (2048 X 1080,) or HD (1920 X 1980.) This is true of major distributors, & sales agents who are attemping to have your movie sold either domestically or Internationaly to a movie company, TV network, or Video on Demand services such as Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon, Hulu, or any number of other platforms. An approved QC report is what is required to get your show on air.

Mac Pro Computer UHD QC Suite, Monitor & waveform monitor
L.A. Post QC Suite

Once a filmmaker has secured a deal the entity involved will often issue a "spec sheet" or "deliverables list" this will include exactly how they want the master (final approved file) delivered in terms of video and audio specs. It will also include whatever additional formats they want the project sent to them on. Out first step is to obtain the spec sheet from the distributor or whomever the client is sending the project to, often different networks, stations, platforms, or broadcast facilities will require different things from the filmmaker or production company. We go over the spec sheet and make sure that everything that is asked for is present on the file, or tape, and is correct to the standards requested.

On some occasions the specifications provided to the filmmaker may be partial or incomplete. This is why we perform a 100% Broadcast QC. Which is a full evaluation of all technical apsects of the film or show. We will likely note issues that the distrubutor did not mention in their notes. These issues can be discussed with the company involved after the report is issued. In some instances the distributor or network may approve some issues "as is". In which case we can at the clients discretion amend the report as such. However if the client wants the project to be shown elsewhere these issues may come up again later in subsequent QC reports that other platforms or distribution companies may perform. This is why we strongly advise all issues that are marginal to worse to be fixed immediately. This is especially true when a show that has been approved for domestic viewing, with the intention of also be shown internationally. Most foriegn programming must undergo more rigid testing then here in the US and "approved" issues here, may not be acceptable internationally.

Spec Sheets & Deliverables Lists

Examples of spec sheet demands will be correct head format The correct bars, tones and slate are present in the right correct time code location. Using an editing program, usually Davinci Resolve, We begin The "QC" by making sure the bars are at the correct video levels, and the tones are at the correct audio levels, we also check to make sure that all the information on the slate is correct, complete, and matches the info on the tape and case labels. (If applicable) At this point we will run a spec check to make sure that the luminance, chrominance, and gamut levels are correct and in spec throughout program, With the help of the automated program Media Info we check other specifications such as Overall bit rate, mode & depth, scan type & color space. The equivalent audio specs are also checked and logged. A check is also made to assure that all text in the show is within the title safe area. During this check a line count is also performed to determine the aspect ratio of the program and make sure that it is correct and within spec. Vertical and horizontal blanking are checked throughout program.

Watching & Listening

After all specs are checked and logged a full viewing of the program is performed. Most projects we QC contain 3 separate sets of audio tracks. We do a full viewing & listening for each set of Audio tracks. (a Pass) The sets of audio track usually are

1.) Stereo Mix Track (full 2 channel stereo)

2.) Stereo M&E Track (2 channel mix of stereo music & effects, the dialogue is removed for the purpose of international dubbing)

3.) 5.1 Full Mix (6 channels total). Full Surround Mix

4.) 5.1 M&E Mix (6 channels total). Surround Mix of Music & Effects

So the Full QC usually requires 3-4 passes and had 10-16 tracks of audio total We do a full "Pass" for each set of audio tracks while watching video for each pass as well to ensure correct sync. There may be additional sets of audio tracks such as 5.1 M&E mix or split track audio, those would be considered extra passes.

The Report

A full report is filled out listing all specs and a full list of issues by time code. Each item/issue listed will have a severity rating based on a scale from 1-3.

1.) A rating of 1 is for minor & FYI issues.

2.) A 2 rating is minor to marginal and can be fixed by client if desired, but will not be necessary in order to achieve a Pass rating on report.

2+.) 2+ rating puts the program on hold, this is an issue that should be fixed if possible. When the program is put on hold it is the clients decision whether to fix these issues or accept as is, usually the client will consult with their distributor or network for final approval. If the filmmaker does not have distribution he can decide to approve any issues "as is" (Approved by Client) We recommend that all issues marked On hold, or Rejected be fixed as the movie will probably be QC'd again at some point by a network, or distributor, and possibly rejected for issues that were not fixed in the first place. This will cause filmmaker to have to do fixes anyway and may result in lost time, and scheduling for Distributors and possibly even legal action. Also if film or movie as subsequently been dubbed or converted for other deliverables those may all need to be re-done as well.

3.) A 3 rating makes the program rejected. This is an issue that must be fixed, and is not in compliance with spec sheets or industry standards. If a program is rejected or placed on hold we will provide suggestions for ways to fix the listed problems, and can often do the fixes for our clients (See Finishing Services Below).

Possible Issues: What We Are Looking For

Some of the video problems we would be looking for include, bad edits, digital hits, compression artfiacts, freeze frames, which may or may not be caused by conversion errors. We are also looking for excessive noise, frame blending, shifts in luminance or chroma, Titles out of safe area, incorrect horizontal or vertical blanking, incorrect line count, and many other possible issues. Some possible audio problems include, ticks, glitches in dialogue, dropouts, mutes, static, pops, incorrect channel assignments, incorrect peak, average & Loudness levels of dialogue and overall audio. Other things we look for are dialogue and effects sync, missing effects, extraneous effects or dialogue, and much more.

Consulting, Fix Check & Final Approval

After the QC Report is complete we will go over it with the client and discuss what issues should / must be fixed. If client performs fixes the project is then sent back to us for a fix check in which we go over all fixes to make sure everything is now correct, then issue a final approved Report.

We Provide "Finishing Services"

Among the myriad full post services we offer is "Finishing Services". In this case we do any and all fixes required to make the movie approved. We are able to fix most issues without any additional material such as additional video files or audio stems. Along with standard video and audio fixes we can create entire M&E (Music & Effects) tracks, and 5.1 mixes from scratch if necessary. When fixing and Finishing is complete we then re-export the final fixed file as a new self-contained quicktime which will become the Final "Master." Any subsequent dubbing, cloning or conversion will come from this original master. We specialize in working with first time filmmakers who may not know the complete post process, we offer free consulting on these issues to our clients

Please see our FAQ sheets for more information or contact us anytime if you have any additional questions about the QC Process.

Call us for more info 1-323-316-8298

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