Ghosts From The Past – Failing QC

QC-FAIL Those of you who have done my two day Guerilla Film Makers Masterclas will know I spend a great deal of time on sales and distribution. We face many problems making low budget films, and some bad ones manifest in the final sales.

One thing that many film makers don’t fully understand is that you will be dealing with your film for decades after it is completed. One such instance has just reared its head with a feature film I made in the nineties. I don’t want to say what film, and I don’t want to say which Broadcaster, but the film went through Quality Control and just failed it.

What does that mean? They bought the film, checked the master tape and rejected it on technical grounds. So we have no deal now unless we CAN supply a master tape that they find acceptable.

You can click HERE to see this QC report sheet (I have edited this so it’s not recognisable from the original, but the content remains intact). You will see the film fails on a number of points… And this is a film made and mastered over a decade ago, AFTER it has been screened by many other broadcasters around the world (and I am making this available so others can see just how rigorous technical sales specs can be).

Most of the things that it fails on are creative choices (the guys who QC are not at all creative it seems)… Such as…(my notes are in BOLD)

On the soundtrack…

Extraneous voice 10:15:29:00 (also on M/E so probably for effect?)
Similar effects cancel in mono in places (phase reversal) e.g. 10:35:00:00, 10:51:50:00.
Background sounds 10:57:00:00 (also on M/e so effects?). 
Rubbery sync (brief) 10:59:05:00 (I can’t see this for the life of me!)
Phase reversal on music possibly for effect 11:12:02:00.
Distortion 11:13:51:00 (this is a distorted scream that we kept for the performance form the actor. The ADR version was just rubbish in comparison)

In the picture…

Dubbed vision glitch (1 field) 10:11:15:07 (yes this is a problem and we will fix)
Grainy pictures throughout, slight softness and grain artefacts on movement e.g. 10:37:56:00.

OK so what does this all mean? Almost all of the sound problems are in fact creative choices. As are the picture problems too – though the grain is to do with shooting Super 16mm (IT’S FILM DAMN IT!).  The only fixable thing is the Dubbed vision glitch (1 field) 10:11:15:07 (so this is a glitch on one half of a frame, so that one 50th of a second of the whole film has a technical problem!)

The real dilemma I have now is how to get them to agree to accept this tape, or I could be forced to re-master the whole film (we will fix the glitch of course)! I really don’t want to re-master the film though, going back to the final mix and re-telecineing the picture from the negative. What a pain. This is a great illustration though of the technical problems that hit Indie film makers in sales and distribution. And over a decade later too!

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

One Response to Ghosts From The Past – Failing QC

  1. Alex May March 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    QC now goes through a computer that measures the rate of flashing (for those who suffer epilepsy) and all sorts of other parameters. It then prints out a report. Supervised by humans it can produce results that don’t match the reality of the situation.

    Reminds me of when the BBC showed 2001: A Space Odyssey. They ‘letterboxed’ to not chop off the sides, but to avoid ‘confusing’ viewers (their words) they filled in the black top and bottom bands with stars ONLY when the spaceship was travelling. The rest of the time the bands remained black. Howls of protests followed. So… don’t put up with any rubbish from the engineers, they really don’t connect with the creative side of things!

    CHRIS – Great Post Alex. Yes I am saying its all creative and seeing what they come back with. I remember that 2001 screening. I was only a kid then but remember thinking, ‘What on earth is that all about’? Bumb dumb dumb!

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